Twin Cities theater artist Hector Chavarria, the Big Gay Mexican, gives an exclusive interview about his upcoming project as well as his inspirations and why he creates art. Support his work by following him on social media and then by purchasing a ticket and experiencing his upcoming show at Intermedia Arts as part of 20% Theatre's Q-STAGE: New Works Series.
Hector, wearer of many hats, what is your current role in the arts?
I am a performance artist, singer, playwright, and fashionista; I try to do it all.
Why do you do art?
I do art because art is my biggest passion. It is the one thing that truly allows me to be myself. I also do art in hopes that my work inspires others and makes them think outside of the box.
How have your life experiences influenced the projects that you choose?
Well, I started creating my Big Gay Mexican persona almost two years ago because I realized that a person such as me was not being represented positively in the media. There is so much fat-shaming, homophobia, and racism flooding the Internet, primarily in social media, that I felt it was high time I took a stand and try to spread some positivity around. I also use my life experiences in my art to shed some light on issues that aren’t really talked about such as discrimination within the queer community and sexual assault done to male victims.
I went to school for acting and I can honestly say I had a great education. I learned how to move and present myself on stage. What my education program did not teach me was the harsh reality of the theater industry. I wasn’t taught the hardship of being a bigger built, flamboyant actor of color. When I started auditioning is when I realized I wasn’t going to make it in this industry as an actor.
As a singer I keep my skills fresh by singing every day. I sing in my apartment when I’m alone; sometimes I add some dancing to it. A year ago I started taking ballet lessons because I never had the chance as a child but as an adult I now have the option. My goal is not to become a ballet dancer, but it has helped me with my movement in performance. I go see theater and performance art constantly. I like to know who other artists are out there.
Are there any arts organizations or venues in the Twin Cities that inspire you?
Open Eye Figure Theatre is huge inspiration of mine. They produce some of the most intricate work. They use various art forms such as music, dance, and puppetry and create fascinating work! Mixed Blood Theater Company is another theater I respect for their choices of plays dealing with issues of race and sexuality.
Can you tell me about a recent arts collaboration that went well? What made it so successful?
In February, I was asked to be part of a cabaret at Patrick’s Cabaret. Scott Artley, the execute director, had asked me to submit a proposal for a cabaret titled, “My Horrifying Love Life,” which dealt with the struggles of dating and relationships. Around the time Scott had contacted me, I was already working on a piece, just for fun, about my relationships with men. It almost felt like it was fate that I was to perform this piece that I was already working on. What I love about Patrick’s Cabaret is that it collects a group of artists who may or may not know each other to create pieces in various art forms, all possessing a specific theme. I was truly honored to be part of the Horrifying Love Life group.
How do you promote your artwork and creative projects?
I use social media primarily. Another passion of mine is creating photo art. I may be kind of narcissistic when it comes to my selfie count, but what I like to do with my selfies is I like to add a bit of flair to them by using different filters and Photoshop applications and turning pictures of myself into what I think are works of art. Word of mouth is also the best way to promote, so I try to go to as many theater events as I can and not only do I get to meet amazing people, but I also get to inform them on my work and upcoming events.
The Big Gay Mexican Show is the current project I am working on. This work is part of 20% Theatre's 2016 Q-Stage: New Work Series. I have been working on The BGM Show since November. Through comedy, song, and dance I present stories from my past that have paved the way to becoming the person who I am today. Life hasn’t been easy for the BGM but he is ready to present his story with class, sass, and merriment!
Can you describe the show in three words?
BIG, Gay and Mexican.
How has the rehearsal process been so far? What has inspired you? What has challenged you?
Rehearsals are going great!! My two actors, Jennifer Buckhout and Donn Saylor, are a dream come true. They have been the inspiration for my characters in my show. I did the unconventional thing of casting actors before I knew what they were going to be playing. It all came together once I knew who I was working with. Their characters came to life in my head and then on paper, and then Jen and Donn brought them to reality. It has been magical. The biggest challenge was finding a rehearsal space. Currently we are rehearsing in a space in Uptown that was provided to us by 20% Theatre Company, so we got lucky. We also do a lot of rehearsals in my lovely living room, which is my primary rehearsal space. My living room has been the birthplace for most of my previous pieces.
Ticket Information for Q-STage: New Work Series
20% Theater Presents:
Q-STAGE: New Works Series
May 13 - 22, 2016 at Intermedia Arts
SET "A" ft. Hector Chavarria & JamieAnn Meyers:
May 13 at 730pm - opening night party
May 14 at 730pm - post-show discussion
May 15 at 2pm
"THE BIG GAY MEXICAN SHOW"
Created by & starring Hector Chavarria
Directed by Stacy Schultz
Also featuring Donn Saylor and Jennifer Buckhout
Throughout his life, he was told he would never make it as a performer. Now, The Big Gay Mexican has finally got his chance at his own show! He sings, he dances, and he is ready to entertain! However, the questions still remains, does he have what it takes to become a success? Is America ready to allow a Big Gay Mexican become a star?
"FIRST PERSON: A LIFE IN TRANSITION"
Created by & starring JamieAnn Meyers
Directed by Shalee Coleman
Also featuring Zealot Hamm, Erica Fields, Beckett Love, and Suzi Love and Pearl Noonan
Each of us has a different story, and "FIRST PERSON" is one transwoman's unvarnished truth. It's the story of her life-long transition, a life that's being lived "halfway up, halfway down," in-between, and her claiming CHANGE as her identity.
WARNING: Adult language & content, nudity
SET "B" ft. A.P. Looze & Gender Tender
May 20 at 730pm - opening night party
May 21 at 730pm - post-show discussion
May 22 at 2pm
More info on Set B available on the 20% Theatre website.
More Ways to Engage:
Send comments or questions to Hector on Twitter at @BigGayMexican.
Follow Twenty Percent Theatre on Twitter at @20PercentTC and on Facebook.
And shout out the venue @intermedia_arts on Twitter, too.
2822 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408