Kissing Che Act 1 by Augusto Federico Amador

Kissing Che is the first play in Amador's Latin-American Dictator Trilogy series. It was developed through the Public Theater in NYC and was presented at the Public Theater Spotlight Series, Blank Theater, Celebration Theater and Skylight Theater and recently at A Contemporary Theater/Latino Theater Projects in Seattle.  Kissing Che was named in HowlRound’s, “101 Plays by The New Americans, or on Latinidad”, and is a finalist for the Queer Plays From Around The World festival at Arcola Theatre in London, England. We are proud to present this work in the Lounge.

kissing che.jpg

In memory of my tio Ismael

Prologue

1959: Castro overthrows Batista and takes control of Cuba.
In the late 1960's, because of "revolutionary social hygiene".
Thousands of homosexuals were systematically rounded up and forced
into hard labor in camps known as “Unidades Militares de Ayuda a
la Producción”. Those that didn't die were continually harassed
and prosecuted for the rest of their lives.
1980, Cuba: Fidel Castro opens the port of Mariel, causing a mass
exodus of up to 125,000 Cuban political dissidents and criminals
to flee to Florida, USA
2011, Cuba: Sex change operations are covered for every Cuban
citizen under the Cuban National health care system.

Cast list
Reina: Latina. 50's to play 60 years old. Speaks with an
elegant Spanish accent with a Cuban dialect. Physically, he must
be handsome with the echoes of a youthful beauty that one can
imagine made him a gorgeous female impersonator.
Though he can be very flamboyant he is very well grounded in his
“womanhood”. Once a beautiful drag queen diva, (“I turned kings
into queens. I made straight men gay. And they loved me for
it!”) his health is rapidly deteriorating and he now looks at the
demons of his past through the glasses of a Blanche DuBois. His
open sexuality confronts Tamika's true repressed sexual identity.
Tamika: She is a 45 year old, African-American nurse. Despite
leading an unfulfilled life and unhappy marriage, she has a
compassionate heart and cares after her patients with a love she
doesn't experience with her husband Derek, whom she married 15
years prior because she got knocked up only to give birth to a
stillborn infant 7 months later.
Her inner-beauty confronts Reina's inner demons of his past.
Derek: (50's) African American male. Blue-collar worker. Married
for 15 years to Tamika. He is an everyday man working an
everyday work week. He is completely content with his ritualistic
marriage with Tamika. Knowing full well that the other option is
loneliness.
Derek also doubles as a dangerous CUBAN OFFICER Also 50's.
Mirabella: (20's) Latino male. Very “pretty”. Could easily be
seen as a gorgeous “woman”. Naïve. A dreamer who believes in
finding a straight man whom he could love deeply. Reina's best friend. Has a haunting quality.
Also doubles as the role of the ghost of Che Guevara Latino male,
20's.
Cuban Showgirl (21 years old): Gorgeous Cuban showgirl.
Also doubles as the HEAD NURSE also Latina late 20's. She is a
no nonsense woman. Sharp wit and takes no bullshit from Reina.
Total actors: 5
Total characters: 8

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ACT ONE
Scene One

(Spotlight on a gorgeous Cuban Woman in her early twenties.
She is dressed as a 1950's Havana show-girl and alluringly
sings the Cuban love ballad, “Besame Mucho”.
The SPOTLIGHT WIDENS to REVEAL that she is singing to a MAN
dressed in green army fatigues and wearing a beret seated in
a chair with his BACK to the audience. Though we can’t see
the details of his face, we notice that he has a long unkempt
beard.
The Cuban Woman shifts her hips seductively, teasing the man
ever so closely. She leans into him, her lips inches from
his.

He reaches out his hand and just as he’s about to caress her-
SPOTLIGHT to BLACK.)

Scene Two
(1984, Miami, Fla. It’s been four years since the Mariel
Boatlift from Cuba. “Careless Whisper” by Wham! was a hit
song. “The Cosby Show” was the highest rated show on TV.
Nuclear annihilation appeared to be on the horizon. “It’s
morning in America”: It’s the time for voting for Ronald
Reagan and bumping lines of cocaine.
LIGHTS UP on a plainly furnished but immaculate living room
of the Ponce De Leon Convalescent Home. On a small TV,
President Reagan’s inaugural speech is heard.
REINA, 60, who speaks with a Cuban accent and has a very
flamboyant and dramatic flair, sits at a TV dinner table, in
front of a plate of liver. He stares at it with a severe
grimace.
Finally, he picks up a knife and fork and cuts into it. He
lifts the piece of liver to his mouth. But his hands shake
so much, that the liver falls off the fork and back onto the
plate.

REINA
(muttering)
Puta madre...

It takes him a few moments before he can regain his
composure. Beginning again, and with great concentration he
stabs the fork into the piece of liver loudly.
Methodically, he raises it to his mouth and shoves it in...
The metallic taste causes his face to sour. His jaws clench
tight. He tries to swallow but his gag reflex is too much
and he spits the liver out with a fury.
Suddenly, he swipes the plate of liver off the table and it
crashes loudly onto the floor.
Offstage we hear loud concerned voices.
A moment later, the HEAD NURSE enters. She is a blonde woman
and speaks with a slight Floridian drawl.

HEAD NURSE
(loud and fed up)
Now what is all the fuss in here
about?!

(She looks around to see the mess on the floor. She turns an
angry eye to Reina who ignores her presence.)

HEAD NURSE
(shutting off the TV)
Explain yourself, Mr. Dominguez?

(Reina doesn’t respond.)

HEAD NURSE
Don’t make me ask again.

REINA
(with soft disgust)
Yo no quiero higado.

HEAD NURSE
(folding her arms)
In Miami, we speak English, Mr.
Dominguez.

REINA
(loudly protesting)
I don’t like liver. The taste of
blood reminds of that cabron,
Castro!

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                       We serve you liver for a reason.

(Reina gets up.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                            No lo quiero. This food isn’t fit for a peasant.

(He begins to walk off.)

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                         Don’t you turn your back on me!

REINA
(fighting)
I was not supposed to end here. No
aqui!...
(dreamy; dramatic)
It was supposed to end differently.
Gloriosamente. In a villa, on the
coast in Ibiza. Or in a mansion in
Beverly Hills with a large swimming
pool filled with beautiful cabana
boys...

HEAD NURSE
(cold)
You done?

REINA
(dissing)
With you? Si.
(He begins to limp off.)

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                         Where do you think you’re hobbling
off to? I’m not finished with you,
Mr. Dominguez!

(Reina ignores her.)

HEAD NURSE
Mr. Dominguez?!

REINA
(stopping and turning
around)
First of all, mamita...
Please address me as, “Reina” or
“Mi Angel de las rosas”. “Ms.
Dominguez” if you must!

HEAD NURSE
(final)
Mister Dominguez!

REINA                                                                                                                                                            And second of all, darling: I don’t hobble. I sashay.

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                              I swear, if I hear just one more complaint from-

REINA                                                                                                                                                 (dramatically indignant)
Oh, please! They have been
touching me with their eyes for
months. Ravaging me really. I
should be the one complaining!

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                         Stop molesting the male nurses!

REINA                                                                                                                                                            Jesus, I’d have better luck trying
to teach a goat how to do the Conga
than for anyone to listen to what I have to-

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                              This is your last warning, you
hear? The next time, your backside
will be huggin’ the pavement. We
clear?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Ay, you are such a drama queen.

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                          Well, you finally got something
right! I am the queen!
(pointing a finger at him)
The last time, hear?

REINA
(submissive)
I’ll be a a good girl.

(TAMIKA enters.)

TAMIKA
(relieved)
Oh, there you are.

HEAD NURSE
Where have you been?

TAMIKA
With Mrs. Wilkins.

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                       And?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              She won't eat. She hasn't eaten all
day.

HEAD NURSE
(sigh of exasperation)                                                                                                                                       Fine. Just tell her-

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Yes maam. I told her like you told
me to, that St. Francis don't like
a quitter, but she says she don't
care what he thinks, on account of
that she's not a Catholic no more.

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                           Shoot, I swear that woman changes
religions more times than I change
my panties. Okay. I'll handle
Mrs. Wilkins. In the meantime you can make
yourself familiar with Mister
Dominguez.

(The Head Nurse exits. Silence.)

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Hi, I’m-

REINA                                                                                                                                                             You’re new here.

TAMIKA
It shows that bad, huh?

(Tamika cleans up the broken plate and liver.)

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                       Goodness. It’s like a hurricane
passed through here.

(Beat.)

REINA
(sniffing at the air)
The smell of this place...I don’t
know how you get used to it.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              It’s not so terrible, really.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             During the revolución I smelled
death. But in here, it smells like
bread that is slowly becoming
moldy...

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                            Huh? To me this place smells more
like Pine-sol.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              In here, mami...Death is turning me
into a hustler. Hustling a man is
one thing. But to hustle God?
(shaking his head)
Coño...Always trying to hustle God
for another jodido second, another
jodido minute, another jodido hour,
another jodido day, jodido week,
jodido month. Another...
(he exhales deeply)
But if a hustler is good?

HEAD NURSE (CONT'D)                                                                                                                                        Really good, tú sabes? God will
give him immortality...Do you
believe that?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             No.

REINA
(playfully)
Mierda, neither do I. But every
girl has got to have a dream.

TAMIKA
(amused)
Well I suppose so. I suppose so...

(She goes to straighten up the rest of the room. Reina
studies her.)

REINA
Do you have an esposo?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                            A what?

REINA
Are you married?

TAMIKA
Oh, yes. Yes, I am.

REINA                                                                                                                                                          It’s good to have a big strong man
to hold you in his arms, no?

TAMIKA
(amused)
Can’t argue with you there.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Is it a fairy tale marriage?

TAMIKA
Fairy tale?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Are you living happily ever after?

TAMIKA
(friendly)
Boy, you sure ask a lot of
questions?

REINA
(proud)
I like to know who’s taking care of
me.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             Well, I guess that makes sense.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Sabes, I just realized that you
never introduced yourself to me.

TAMIKA
I’m Tamika.

REINA
(easy sarcasm)
Tamika? Sounds like a dessert, no?
Tapioca. Tamika. Tamika.
Tapioca.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             I was named after my great
grandmother.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             And so do you have any little
Tamika's or Tamiko's at home to
suckle from your breasts?

TAMIKA
(embarrassed)
I’m sorry?

REINA
(looking her
over)
Si, si, si. You have good, big
hips. A Cubana’s hips. Good hips
for spitting out the niños.

TAMIKA
(going back to cleaning)
Well, I don’t have any.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Mi mama-
(making the sign of the cross)
-may that gran puta still be
burning in hell, told me that I
could never be a real woman, nunca-                                                                                                                                        Because, “A woman is only a woman,
when she knows what its like to
have a fetus punching around inside
her big, fat belly.”...

TAMIKA
(trying to change the
subject)
So, so do you like it here?

REINA
(ignoring her)
Claro que no, I could never bear
children, myself. For you see, my
womb?-

TAMIKA
(nervously ignoring him)
Because I think this is a very nice place-

REINA                                                                                                                                                              -Has turned into a tomb. Or is it
your womb that has turned into a
tomb?

TAMIKA
(shocked)
What did you say?

REINA
(unrelenting)
Or does your husband's hands turn
to stone every time he tries to
touch you?

TAMIKA
(bothered)
I don’t believe that’s any of your
business.

REINA
(sadly shaking
her head)
Oh, I know, mija. Yo se...yo se,
what happens to the woman when her
husband no longer wants to make the
fuki-fuki with her.

TAMIKA
(taken aback)
Excuse me?

REINA

Does she become a tortillera?
A lesbian?

 

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              You don’t-You don’t have no right
to talk to me like this.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             Does she find a new man? Or even
better, does she become religious
and fall in love with Jesus?
Desiring only to wash men's feet...

TAMIKA
(upset)
Why are you saying this? Why?

REINA                                                                                                                                                            Because isn’t it obvious, mija?
(beat; dramatic)
I was one such woman!

(Tamika and Reina stare at each other. Tears stream down
Tamika’s face. The Head Nurse re-enters.)

HEAD NURSE
(oblivious)
Well, it’s official: Mrs. Wilkins
is now a Protestant.
(noticing Tamika)
What's wrong with you?

TAMIKA
(wiping away her
tears)
Oh, it’s nothing.

HEAD NURSE
(turning angrily
to Reina)
You!

REINA
(innocently)
Who? Me?

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                       Yeah, I'm talking to you Chiquita
Banana.
(gestures to
Tamika)
He responsible for this?

TAMIKA
It’s nothing.

HEAD NURSE
(glaring at Reina)
Nothing, huh?...
(to Tamika; angry)
Baggage?

TAMIKA
I'm sorry?

HEAD NURSE
Baggage? Do you have any?
(clarifying)
Emotional problems, girl?

TAMIKA
(off-guard)
Oh no, ma'am.

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                            You sure now?

TAMIKA
Yes, ma'am.

HEAD NURSE                                                                                                                                                       'Cause I ain't got no time to baby
sit any nurses now.

TAMIKA
It won't happen again.

HEAD NURSE
Good. Now follow me.

(The Head Nurse leads Tamika offstage. Tamika glances back
to see Reina staring at her.)

scene three

Time: 1964
Place: Havana, Cuba
(Reina, 30 years old, sits at a table. His face is bruised
and bloodied. He wears an expensive red evening gown that is
torn and dirtied. Note that the same actor will be
portraying the role of the younger Reina.
A CUBAN OFFICER, early 50’s, stands opposite of him. He
wipes the sweat from his mustache with a handkerchief as he
glares at Reina.
He leans over the table and slides a blank piece of paper and
pen to him.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                              What are you expecting me to do
with this?

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                        Alleviate your guilt with it.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Of what guilt are you professing
that I have?

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                            Write down exactly where and who
you have been associating yourself
with. And the revolución will
decide what crimes you are guilty
of.

(The officer steps to the side of Reina.)

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                             You have been charged with, “Public
flaunting of your homosexual
condition”. How do you explain
that?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              I was just being myself?
(Silence. The officer leans in close.)

OFFICER
You’re shivering.

REINA
(dramatically)
Oh you know, how a man in uniform
can have an affect on a woman?

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                              I have studied many of you
maricones very well. Your vices.
Your immorality. I mean, in the
end, you are all imperialists.
Corruptores. Claro. But it is you
travestidos that intrigue me the
most. Your identity lost somewhere
between chico and chica...Ah,
pobrecita...

(He slides his hand along Reina’s cheek.)

OFFICER

...I would guess correctly, that
you are the, “taker”? Sí?

REINA
(fanning himself)
That is not the language one should
use around a lady.

OFFICER
(backing off; amused)
Una mujer, are you?

REINA                                                                                                                                                             Claro. I am just not at my best right now.

(The officer grins, he goes into a sack and pulls out a
blonde wig.)

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                             I believe this is what you meant, no?

(The officer laughs and tosses it to Reina.)

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                             What are you waiting for? Put it
on. Allow me to witness this
transformación?
(Reina smiles nervously.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Whatever you wish, corazón.

(Reina turns his back to the audience as he adjusts the wig.
Finished, he turns around.)

OFFICER
(studying)
Que linda?...And as simple as that,
you are a woman. Maravillosa...

(The Officer steps to Reina.)
REINA
Call me...“Reina”.

(The Officer violently grabs the back of Reina’s head and
slams it down on the table holding him there. Still in his
female persona, Reina, pleads with him.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                           Esperete, corazón! There are other
ways of doing this. There are other ways-

OFFICER                                                                                                                                                             (putting his finger across
Reina’s lips)
Ssshhhhhhh!...

(Beat; With his free hand the Officer unzips his pants.)

OFFICER
Call me, mi papito...
(Lights slowly to black.)

scene four

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(We hear the sounds of a TV sitcom playing. DEREK, Tamika’s
husband, an African-American man, 50’s, sits on the couch,
his eyes glued to the TV which is represented by a simple
wooden frame. He is the everyday man, numbed by an everyday
work week.)

TAMIKA (Offstage)
(calling out)
Hey baby?!

(He belts out a laugh at the TV.)

DEREK
(calling off)
Yeah, in here!

(He lights up a weed pipe. Derek chuckles at the TV. She
enters. They kiss each other.)

DEREK
So, how’s the job?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Hard. Then again, what else was I
expecting, right?

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              Well, I’m not saying we couldn’t use the extra money, baby-

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              I’m not quitting.

DEREK                                                                                                                                                             Wasn’t saying you should.

TAMIKA
You inferred it.

DEREK
(RE: “inferred”)
Guess I know I stepped in it when
you start using the “big words”.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             Let’s not start this evening off
arguing.

DEREK
We’re not arguing.

TAMIKA
(avoiding)
Okay.

(Tense moment. Derek goes back to watch TV. Tamika sits
down on the couch and takes off her shoes.)

TAMIKA
Geez am I beat...

DEREK
(beat; warming up)
Want me to rub your shoulders?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              It’s my feet that’s really killing me.

DEREK
(playfully declining)
I don’t do feet. And I don’t do
windows.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Please?

DEREK
(warmly)
Alright. Anything for my
hardworking baby.

(She leans back on the couch and he starts to massage her
feet.)

TAMIKA
(easy)
Ouch, not so hard.

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              Sorry. It’s been awhile.

(Rubbing.)

TAMIKA
A little more gentle.

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              Alright, alright. I’m just gettin’
warmed up.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Get into the arches some more.

(Derek massages her arches.)

DEREK
(proud)
Now I got it. Bet you’re feeling
you’re in heaven right about now,
right?

TAMIKA
(bearing it)
Not what I’d call it.

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              You kiddin? You used to melt like
margarine when I’d rub your feet.

TAMIKA
Well it’s-ouch!

DEREK
Just relax into it.

(He tries again. It’s not working. She pulls her feet away
and sits up.)

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Actually, I’m feeling much better.

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              Come on, now? Let me have another shot?

TAMIKA
(gracious)
I’m fine. Thanks though.

DEREK
(indignant)
Alright.

(He goes back to the TV, lighting up his weed.)

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              Oh hey?...got word that Sean and
his woman are splittin’ up.

TAMIKA
(stunned)
They’re getting divorced?

DEREK                                                                                                                                                              What’s his woman’s name again?

TAMIKA
(astonished)
...Lorraine.

DEREK
Yeah, that’s her.

DEREK
(shaking his head)
Moved to California. Never could
understand why you both was such
good friends, no how.

TAMIKA
How you hear about it?

DEREK                                                                                                                                                             Eddie...I gotta say...she was one
fine lookin’, woman...Too fine
lookin for his ass, anyway.

TAMIKA
(softly)
You thought she was beautiful?

DEREK                                                                                                                                                            Probably got tired of all his
Muslim speechifying. Mohammed this
and Farrakhan that. No pork. No
bourbon. No wonder she took it on
the arches?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             They were together for ten years....

DEREK                                                                                                                                                             You ever keep in touch with her?

TAMIKA
(shaking her head)
...No.

DEREK (CONT'D)                                                                                                                                                        Ain’t no wonder why she left him.
Ain’t that right baby?...

TAMIKA
(staring off)
No...Ain’t no wonder at all...

scene five
(Lights up on the convalescent home. Tamika tends to a
sleeping INVALID in a wheelchair. Reina sits on the couch
pretending to read a magazine.)

TAMIKA
(to invalid)
Must be having real good dreams
when you sleep so much eh, Mr.
Porcher?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              He can't hear you, tu sabes? You
might as well be talking to a
mummy.

TAMIKA
(to Reina)
I don't believe you've been invited
into our conversation.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Fine! And just in case you were
wondering...I'm not interested in
being friends either.

TAMIKA
(to invalid)
Friends? Did you hear that Mr.
Porcher? I don't think Mr.
Dominguez even has any of those?

REINA                                                                                                                                                             I have muchos amigos. Muchos y muchos amigos!

TAMIKA
(to invalid; rubbing it
in)
I bet you have more friends than
him? Don’t you Mr. Porcher?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Honey, you'd have to go back to the
time of the Pharaohs to find his
last living amigo.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              You really dislike the other
patients, don’t you?

REINA                                                                                                                                                           They have a word for them. It’s
called "ugly."
(wagging his finger)
And I no like the uglies, mija.
No senorita. No feas for me.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                       Everybody's 'fraid of bein’
forgotten, Mr. Dominguez.

REINA
(very prideful)
I’ll never be forgotten. Nunca,
nunca...

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Unforgettable? That’s what you
are, huh?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Famosa! I used to be muy famosa!

TAMIKA
‘Scuse me?

REINA
I was famous, darling.

TAMIKA
(skeptical)
Uh-huh.
(She crosses the room.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                             What that primitive noise suppose
to mean?

TAMIKA
(w/attitude)
“Uh-huh" means "Uh-huh".

(Reina suddenly moans in pain. Tamika goes to attend him.)

TAMIKA
Are you okay?

(Reina shakes his head defiantly.)

REINA
I’m fine.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Not from where I’m standing

REINA
I said I’m fine!

(Tamika notices Reina hasn’t taken his medication that sits
at the table.)

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             I see you haven’t been taking your
meds.

REINA                                                                                                                                                              You know what I miss most about not
being sick? Sueños...

(Tamika ignores him and attends to her patient.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                               Cubanos are great dreamers. The
trick is, no letting Castro find
out what you dream about.
(lost in his thoughts)
My grandfather...Teofilo, the great
moreno singer of Guajira music and
the favorite son of Changó used to
say, “it’s our African blood
chasing around in our heads that
makes us dream so much.”

TAMIKA
And why’s that?

REINA                                                                                                                                                             You never rest until you go back to
the way it was.
(beat)
I don’t dream so much no more.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             Come to think of it...Neither do I...

(Silence.)

REINA
About the other day?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             I don’t want to talk about it.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             I’m sorry, Tamika. I no mean any
of it!

TAMIKA
(curt)
I said forget it.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             I can be such a ferocious kitty-cat
sometimes. Let’s make, how do you
gringos say? A “fresh beginning?”

TAMIKA
(aside)
Fresh start?
(cold shoulder)
I don’t think that’s possible.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             I can be a loyal friend. Please
forgive me?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              I don’t know if that’s possible.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             Of course you can, mija. Is that
no what your church teaches?

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                             Shoot. I don’t think even Jesus
has enough Jesus in him to forgive
what you said to me.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             I promise I’ll be the kindest
friend you ever had...Cross my
breasts and hope to die.

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                              Why would I want to be friends with
you?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              Us girls have to stick together.

TAMIKA
(dismissing)
We do, huh?

REINA                                                                                                                                                              I’ll even protect you from that
mean nurse!

(Silence. Tamika suddenly looks around and then leans into
Reina as if confessing a secret.)

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                            She is kinda mean, don’t you think?

REINA
(crossing herself)
Like the el diablo himself.

(They both share a light moment.)

TAMIKA
(beat)
Alright, I’ll think about it.

(Reina falls over herself in appreciation.)

REINA                                                                                                                                                             Really?! Oh, gracias, corazon!
Gracias! You no regret it!

TAMIKA
(charmed)
I said I’ll think about it, Reina!

(A handsome MALE NURSE enters. Reina is instantly taken with
the Male Nurse and never takes his eyes off him.
Tamika notices that Reina’s eyes are drunk with lust.

TAMIKA
What are you doing?

The Male Nurse pushes the other patient out of the room and
exits. Reina watches after him.)

REINA
(beat)
Abelando used to come into my
aunt’s bar in the evenings...so
many hard muscles from working all
those days in the fields. He would
stare at her with those eyes.
Those ojos hermosos...I was only
eight years old but I could already
see that she was the one
responsible for the bulge that was
happening in his pants...I would
stand next to him with the smell of
his African sweat...mixed with the
dirt from the fields, his rum
soaked breathe from his beautiful
mouth...

TAMIKA
Lust is a sin.

REINA                                                                                                                                                             But that’s what makes it feel so
good, corazón!

TAMIKA                                                                                                                                                            It goes against God, if you ask me.

REINA
(toying with her)
Tell me, Tamika?...Does my maricón
ways bother you?

TAMIKA

I don’t have a problem with you
being gay. If that’s what you’re
asking?

 

REINA

Claro que, si! What’s not to like?

 

TAMIKA

We all make our choices in this
life.

 

REINA

You think I’m going to hell don’t
you?

TAMIKA

It’s not what I think that counts.

REINA

Ah...
(pointing upwards)

You meaning the big jefe up in the
clouds?

 

TAMIKA

It’s all in the scripture. Clear
as daylight.

REINA

Ay! Sounds like your god has a big
stick up his culo?!

TAMIKA
(shocked)
Excuse me?

REINA

I no mean in a good way, either!

 

TAMIKA

Okay, this conversation is over.

 

REINA
What I say?

TAMIKA
You know exactly what!

REINA

Lo siento, mi amor. I was just
moving your funny bone.

TAMIKA

Don’t be fooling around about my
Lord, you hear?

REINA

Si, si, I hear, I hear. Tell you
what? I’ll make it up to you by
sharing some gossip.

TAMIKA
Not interested.

REINA

Are you sure? It’s very caliente.

 

TAMIKA
It is, huh?

REINA

Did you know that here is a
celebrity gracing this mausoleum?

 

TAMIKA
(intrigued)
A celebrity? I knew Mr. Greene
from room 15C was in the Lone

Ranger once but I never knew-

REINA

I was talking about me!

(Sauntering the stage)

REINA

Night after night, men threw lust
and roses at my feet...I was Cuba’s
last famous drag queen!

 

(Moving around the room like a seductress.)

 

REINA (CONT’D)
...When I was on that stage?
Dressed in my silk stockings that
showed off my statuesque legs...A
brassiere that cupped my ample
breasts...
(tracing his finger down
his thigh)
A dress slit down the side allowing
for a peek at the black garter belt
hugging my thigh...Ruby red
lipstick that brought out the
fullness of my lips. And finally,
I wore a variety of wigs:
Straight, jet black hair if they
had a thirst for the erotic, far
east. Curly, blonde if they were
in the mood for something
more...American.
(beat)
When I was on that stage, they all
wanted me: Judges, doctors,
millionaires and garbage men. The
sane and the insane. Married men?
Especially...All I had to do was
open the door and they came
stampeding in through like cattle.
(beat)
I turned Kings into Queens.
And they begged me for it! They
adored me for it!

(Reina sits down exhausted. He wipes the sweat off his
face.)

What I miss most were the stares of
men...Men, whom if you would prick,
would bleed semen...

TAMIKA
(taken in)
Oh my...

 

REINA
(suddenly very inspired)
Bueno! Enough talking!
(Walking excitedly around the room.)

 

REINA

In case you want to bring the
romance back into your marriage?

Have some foreplay before the
foreplay? Or even if you want
another man to desire you? Lesson
numero uno: Know how to move your
nalgas.

kc10.jpg

read Act

TAMIKA
Beg your pardon?

REINA

Your culo! Your ass! Coño! Don’t
you no speak English?

 

(Reina steps over to a radio and turns it on. He quickly
dials through different channels, stopping at the sounds of
salsa music.)

 

REINA

Sí, that’s the shit, baby.

(Reina does a continuous dance move. He moves and shakes
like a pro.)

 

TAMIKA
(amazed)
Lord, what are you doing?

 

REINA

Living, baby. Living...Now your
turn.

 

TAMIKA

No way, José. My body don’t move
like that.

REINA
(still moving)
Desire starts with the hips. Mira,
it’s always easy for a naturally
beautiful woman to seduce a man.
Why? Because beauty is for men
without imagination. But?...But if
you can make a man imagine?!...
Aye! He will eat from a dog’s bowl
if you told him to. Now try.

 

TAMIKA

I don’t want to have men eat from a
dog’s bowl!
REINA
(pulling her to him)
I said, try! Shake your peso
maker!

 

(Tamika takes a clumsy try at a dance move.)

 

REINA

Baby? This ain’t the Hula-Hoop.

 

TAMIKA

See, I told you. I just ain’t-

REINA

Put your nalgas into it. Like
this...And then like that...

 

(He dances, she follows, getting a bit better. Finally, she
finally starts to get the hang of it.)

 

REINA
(clapping loudly)
You got it, baby! Fuerte! Fuerte!
(The salsa music’s rhythm starts to hit stride!)

 

TAMIKA
I’m doing it!

 

(They keep dancing faster and faster as the music tempo is
really cooking. Suddenly, Reina is hit with a coughing
attack. She eases him back onto the couch and shuts off the
radio.)

 

TAMIKA

Enough for you, Reina of the
rhumba.

 

REINA
(resisting)
Coño. I’m going to bring out the
inner diva in you, even if it kills
me.

 

(He coughs some more.)

TAMIKA
Sit, Reina.

 

(Reina lets Tamika help him to a chair.)

 

REINA

No worry. A little morphine and
I’ll be as good as a Spring
chicken.

 

TAMIKA
You outta your mind.

 

REINA

Or maybe some cocaína. But only
just a little.

TAMIKA
-And your senses.

REINA

Dios mío. What I wouldn’t do for
some rum. Good Cubano rum...

 

TAMIKA
(spirit soaring)
God, that was great! It made me

feel so...so-

REINA

Desirable?

 

HEAD NURSE (OFFSTAGE)

Tamika?! Tamika?!

TAMIKA
(anxious)
Oh, shoot, it’s my boss.

 

HEAD NURSE (OFFSTAGE)

Tamika?!

 

TAMIKA

And it sounds like she’s in gangsta
mode. We’ll talk later.
(Tamika rushes off stage in a panic.)

 

scene six

(The lights come up on Tamika’s living room. Derek sleeps
soundly on the couch as the TV blares loudly.
Tamika enters wearing a bathrobe and carrying a portable
cassette player. She sets it down and turns off the TV.)

 

TAMIKA
(gently shaking Derek)
Baby? Baby?

DEREK
(groggy)
Damn. What time is it?

TAMIKA
Nine-thirty.

DEREK

Tsk. Then what you wakin me up
for, baby?

 

(He grabs the remote and turns the TV back on.)

 

TAMIKA
(shyly)
I thought...maybe you might be more
comfortable, you know...in bed?

 

DEREK

Shoot, Tamika-

(Tamika opens her robe and awkwardly lets it drop to the

floor, revealing a sexy negligee.)

 

DEREK
(beat)
Ah, I’m too tired for that, baby.
I’m sorry. It’s been a helluva
day...

(He fires up his pipe.)

DEREK
A helluva day...

 

(She hits play on the portable cassette player and the song,
“Besame Mucho” starts playing.)

 

DEREK
(RE: music)
What in the hell is that?

TAMIKA
(swaying)
Mood music.

DEREK

Why you movin around funny like
that?

 

TAMIKA
(sensually)
Like what, baby?

DEREK

You gonna get sea sick rocking side
to side like that.

(She seductively waves him over with her index finger.)

 

TAMIKA
Come here, big boy.

(Derek steps over to the cassette player and shuts it off.)

 

TAMIKA
(hurt)
What you do that for?

(He plops back onto the couch.)

DEREK

Baby, I told you before, I’m tired.
I worked three twelve-hour days in
a row.

 

TAMIKA

I’ve worked four...It’s just that’s
it been awhile since, since we
shared company?

DEREK
(exhaling)
Alright, baby. I’m sorry. You’re
right. You’re right.
(he kisses her)
I’ll be up to bed in a few minutes.

(He turns on the TV.)

 

 

 

TAMIKA
(noticing his lack of
enthusiasm)
Okay, baby.

 

(She picks up her robe and begins to walk away. She stops
and turns to see Derek watching TV. Suddenly angered, she
steps to him, grabs the remote and turns off the TV.)

 

DEREK
What you do that for?

TAMIKA
I wanna talk.

DEREK
I was watching TV.

TAMIKA

I want to talk about James.
(Surprised, Derek remains quiet.)

 

DEREK
You what?

 

TAMIKA
You married me.

DEREK

Yes, I married you. We got
married.

 

TAMIKA

Because it was the right thing to
do.

 

DEREK
That’s right.

TAMIKA

Because it was the responsible
thing to do.

DEREK

Yes, we did the responsible
thing...

 

 

TAMIKA
Because you loved me?

DEREK

We did what good Christian people
should do.

 

TAMIKA
We loved each other.
(He gets up and walks away.)

DEREK

Why you rehashing all this now?

 

TAMIKA

‘Cause sometimes life needs to be
rehashed.
DEREK

(avoiding)
We already talked this out a long
time ago.

 

TAMIKA
I need to be reminded.

DEREK

It ain’t nobody’s fault what
happened.

 

TAMIKA

Remember what you said after I had
the hysterectomy?

(Derek doesn’t respond.)

TAMIKA

You said, “I guess we ain’t very
lucky.”

 

DEREK

I also told you it don’t matter to
me.

 

TAMIKA

Tell me that again, Derek?

 

 

DEREK

What’s the point of asking these
questions, anyhow?!

TAMIKA
I haveta know.

DEREK

Now?! Now you gotta an itch to
know?

 

TAMIKA

I gotta hear it from you that you
woulda married me, pregnant or not?

 

DEREK

All this Monday morning
quarterbacking!

TAMIKA

I can’t-I can’t keep going through
this routine.

DEREK
What routine?

TAMIKA
This. This routine.

DEREK

We been doing this for years now.
After this long it ain’t a routine.
It’s life.

TAMIKA
Things need to change.

DEREK

Or what?

(Tamika doesn’t answer.)

DEREK

Or what, Tamika?...Let’s drop this
all before we say some unfortunate
things.

TAMIKA
I wanna talk this out.

DEREK

You wanna hear me tell you how much
better our life mighta been if we
got divorced at that time?

 

TAMIKA

No.

 

DEREK

How much the both of us regret not
having the guts to start over then?
You wanna talk about all that now?
After all that time been passed by?

 

TAMIKA

No.

 

DEREK

What chance we got starting over
out there now, huh?! Me, with my
pot belly and hair falling out?

 

TAMIKA

I want to hear you tell me that you
love me.


(He steps to her and takes her in his arms.)

 

DEREK
(tenderly)
I love you...We’ll just keep doing
what we been doing, baby. No use
thinkin, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
Look, we’ll try harder in making it
work.

 

(She nods and holds him tight.)

DEREK

And yeah, so you know? Know again?
...I would have married you,
Tamika. Pregnant or not.
Understood?
(He kisses her.)

 

scene seven
Time: 1965; a year after the last flashback.
Place: Havana, Cuba
(We hear the sounds of a packed bar: Music beneath people
laughing and having a good time. Reina, dressed in a men’s
suit, stands with a drink in his hand. Mirabella, aka
Pablito, dressed fashionably in men’s clothes enters. He
looks around and sees Reina.)

MIRABELLA

Jesus. I’m so sorry I’m late,
Reina.

 

REINA

You‘re just lucky I have the
patience of a saint.

MIRABELLA
(overly-apologetic)
Yo sé, yo sé...I’m impossible.
(They kiss each other on the cheek.)

MIRABELLA

Oh, please don’t be cross with me.
So? Que bola?

REINA

Did you see that army of “Carmens”
when you walked into the club?

 

MIRABELLA

Ay, and such ugly “Miranda”
impersonators too. They look like
a pack of burros with fruit on
their heads.

REINA

Relax, corazón. Those putas are
beneath you.

 

MIRABELLA

I can’t help it. They are all so
jealous of you!

REINA

Let those peasants have their dirt.
Last night, after my show, Gabriela
started snapping at me. Could you
believe it?

 

MIRABELLA

Coño, is that puta still not over
it?

 

REINA

Says I stole her gringo cowboy.
“My own little John Wayne”, she
calls him.

 

MIRABELLA
(agreeing)
Mmmm-mmm.

REINA

To tell you the truth I can’t get
rid of him. But, that’s a gringo
for you: Always wanting to conquer
someone or something.

MIRABELLA

Mmmm-mmm.
(looking offstage)
Oh. Speaking of which, here comes
Gabriela now...

 

(They both look offstage as if addressing Gabriela.)

 

REINA
(to Gabriela; indignant)
What’s that you barking out of your
snout?...Well, honey? Maybe if you

stopped prancing around in a mini-
skirt you might be able to keep a

man...Sí, I see those legs!
Unfortunately they are more suited
to holding up a Steinway piano than
enticing an hombre!

MIRABELLA
Mmmm-mmm. Tell it, chica!

 

REINA
(to Gabriela)
Ahora, keep walking and take your
gorilla trainer with you.

MIRABELLA
(laughing)
That tongue of yours, chica...So do
you mind telling me why you
insisted we come here dressed like
this?

 

REINA

I have to tell you something.

 

MIRABELLA

I mean, it feels so unnatural
dressing as a man. It’s so, so...

 

REINA
Masculine?

 

MIRABELLA
(correcting)
Boring. Like being at a costume
ball without a costume.

 

REINA
Get used to it.
(looking him over)
Though I have to say I love how
that guayabera looks on you.

 

MIRABELLA

Get used to it? Used to what?
(suddenly switching to
guayabera)
Do you really love it? I was going
for something Mexicano. Dime, does
it bring out my inner Anthony
Quinn?

 

REINA
(with dread)
The Marica sisters got picked up
last night outside Joey Guapa’s.

 

MIRABELLA
(dismissing)
Well, those chicas never met a
pinga they didn’t want to stroke.

REINA

I mean, by the policia.

MIRABELLA

Claro que sí! The policía pretend
to arrest them and then drive them
to the countryside where the Marica
sisters let them have their way
with them. It’s a game they been
playing for years now. You know
that?

 

REINA
(serious)
It wasn’t that kind of arrest...

 

(Reina steps away.)

 

MIRABELLA
(concerned)
Cariño?...What’s the matter?

 

REINA

This is just the beginning.

 

MIRABELLA

What is?

 

REINA

Soon it will be a bad time to be a
maricón.

 

MIRABELLA

How can you say that? I mean, look
around, Reina.

REINA

I’m talking about persecution.

 

(Mirabella looks at Reina very seriously for a long moment.)

 

MIRABELLA
(laughing it off)
Oh, por favor...

REINA
Will you listen to me?

MIRABELLA

Who is going to do this, tell me
that?

REINA
The party.

 

MIRABELLA
(getting upset)
Quién? Fidel would never allow such
a thing. La revolución would never
allow such a thing. Nunca.
Besides, I hear from the other
chicas, that his brother, Raul, is
big ganso himself.

(Reina grabs Mirabella.)

 

REINA
(lowering his voice)
Who do you think is behind it,
estúpida?

 

(Beat. Mirabella becomes very nervous.)

 

MIRABELLA

You shouldn’t say such things...

 

REINA
What if it is true?

MIRABELLA
(glancing around)
Ssssh. That’s treason to say such
mierda. To even think it will get
you shot.

REINA

I know this to be happening.

 

MIRABELLA

From who? Forget it I don’t want
to know.

 

REINA

An admirer. Judge Jerez...Have I
ever misled you?

MIRABELLA

No.

 

REINA

Have I not taught you everything?

 

MIRABELLA

Yes, I have learned from a maestro.

 

REINA

Cuidate. Things are changing for
the worse.

 

MIRABELLA
What are we going to do?

 

REINA

For now, we keep a low profile.

 

MIRABELLA
(indignant)
Low profile? Me? Hmmm! Chica,
that’s like asking Marilyn Monroe
to stop looking so fabulosa.

 

REINA
(grabbing Mirabella)
You have to trust me on this!

 

MIRABELLA
You’re scaring me, Reina.

 

REINA
Do you trust me?

MIRABELLA
Claro. You know I do...

 

REINA

Don’t worry. I’ll keep us safe.

 

MIRABELLA
I love you, Reina.

REINA

I love you too. Con todo mi
corazón...

(Blackout.)

 

Scene Eight
(SPOTLIGHT on Reina sitting in a bathtub as Tamika gives him
a sponge bath.)

 

TAMIKA
So, who’s Mirabella?

REINA

Where you hear that name?

 

TAMIKA

You repeated that name over and
over in your sleep.

REINA
I no remember.

TAMIKA

I figure maybe it was the town where
you were from?

REINA
I no remember.

TAMIKA

Oh...So how’s the water? Not too
caliente?

REINA
(suddenly cheerful)
If a man was bathing me it would be
just right.

TAMIKA

I guess I’m going to have to do.

 

REINA

The men nurses are scared of me.
Like I am contagious.

TAMIKA

I suppose you’ve had sex with lots
of men, huh?

REINA
(worried)
My doctor has been asking me a lot
of questions about my sex life.

TAMIKA
(comforting)
You relax now. Soon enough, you’ll
be as right as rain.

 

REINA

Tu sabes? Mi papa was a great lover
of women. I get that power from
him.

 

TAMIKA

He was real womanizer, huh?

 

REINA

Sí. Until he gave mama
syphilis. Jodido! You should seen
her chase him through the streets
with her machete.

TAMIKA
For real?!

REINA

He suffered from diabetes so his
feet were always swollen. He
didn’t make it very far before he
tripped over himself, fell into the
street and got run over by a bus.

 

TAMIKA
(shaking her head sadly)
Lord what a shame.

REINA

...mama never married again.

 

TAMIKA

She still loved him, huh?

 

REINA
(shaking his head)
She got too fat. But men still
wanted her...

TAMIKA

So then how come she never re-
married?

 

REINA

In our barrio, most men were poor.
And every hombre knew that they
could not afford to support this
woman with the insatiable appetite
of a goat.
(beat)
I think that’s why she ate so much.
So, the men would finally let her
be a widow...

 

TAMIKA
(shaking her head sadly)
That’s so romantic. Still loving
your daddy after all that.

 

REINA

She was born from the tears of
Yemayá. Cursed from the moment she
was pulled from the womb.

 

TAMIKA
You were very close.

REINA

Until I was nine when mama caught
me wearing women’s clothes. She
got so scared that I was turning
into a maricón that she took me to
a priest, praying that the Holy
Ghost would chase the gay out of
me.

 

TAMIKA

Well, we know how that worked out.

 

REINA

The priests could no understand how
Jesus could walk on water but can
no make a gay man straight? Mama
finally get so desperate, she takes
me to a priestess of la Ocha and
gives me this potion to drink
called, “Gay be gone.”

TAMIKA
No go, huh?

REINA

Chica! It made me even more gay!

 

(They share a moment in laughter.)

REINA (CONT’D)
Had it, mama take me to see a

prostituta with these huge worn-
down tetas! But I jump out of the

window and run for my life. My
pinga swinging in the wind...

 

TAMIKA
(amused)
You are scandalous, Reina!

 

REINA

And you? What scandalous things
you have to tell me?

TAMIKA
(giggling)
Me?! I’ve never been the type of
girl that men wanted to do
scandalous things with.

 

REINA

Morena, please! They must have!

 

TAMIKA
(shaking her head)
Momma’d tell me, “Lord knows
Tamika, you got plenty of inner
beauty, little girl. But it’s a
darn shame none of that ever showed
up on the outside. Darn shame.”

 

REINA
Well, fuck her.

TAMIKA
(besides herself)
Reina?! That’s my mother!

 

REINA

Then fuck her even more!
You proved her wrong. You have a
man, sí?

TAMIKA

Yes, Derek. We met in the most
romantic of ways.

REINA

Tell me?

 

TAMIKA

It was at Friday night bingo at my
church.

 

REINA
(rolling his eyes)
You one chica loca, alright!

 

TAMIKA
You shush, now!
(going back to that old
feeling)

I’m looking over my Bingo card and
I glance up and see this man is
giving me the eye. He’s got a mushy
nose and crooked hairline but no
question about it: He’s shooting
me a smile. At the end of the night
he walks up to me and asks if I
want to grab some coffee and maybe
some pie?

REINA
(sarcastic)
You’re kidding?

TAMIKA
(nostalgic)
He was a real go getter...Two
months later we were married.

 

REINA
He knock you up, eh?

TAMIKA
(blushing)
What?

 

REINA
You Jezebel!

TAMIKA

He was so charming, I couldn’t
resist.

 

REINA

And how old your baby now?

 

TAMIKA

What? He’s not with us.

 

REINA
I no understand?...

 

(Silence.)

 

REINA
(realizing)
Oh...

 

TAMIKA

God’s taking good care of him, I’m
sure.

 

REINA

And you never had another?

 

(Tamika doesn’t respond.)

 

REINA

What kind of hombre is that man of
yours that he no give you many new
babies?

 

TAMIKA

It wasn’t his fault, Reina.

 

(Silence.)

 

TAMIKA

Besides, who wants to have a child
when the Ruskies could nuke us to
smithereens any day now, right?...

 

(Reina takes her hand and affectionately kisses it.)

 

REINA
(beat)
Ay...What heartbroken women are we,
eh corazón?

Lights slowly to back

 

scene nine
Time: 1965; flashback
Place : Havana, Cuba
(Spotlight up on black stage. We hear the sounds of hooting
and hollering. Long, ear piercing whistling are combined
with taunts of, “Hola, maracón!/Oy, faggot. Suck my pinga!”
A moment after, Reina (31 years old) falls into the spotlight
as if he was violently thrown. He struggles to one knee.
His face bruised and dress stained with blood and in tatters.
The unseen voices become louder and more violent.
Suddenly, Reina gets up defiantly and confronts the unseen
voices.)

 

REINA
(calling out violently)
You think you can destroy me! You
can’t! That’s right! You hear me,
putos?!...Come here and I’ll show
what a maricón I can really be !

(Reina takes a wild swing at the voices but spins around and
falls to the floor. We hear wild laughter and ear piercing
whistles!
Spotlight on D.S.R. The same revolutionary man we saw in the
opening scene stands staring at Reina, who lies motionless on
the floor. He calls out to Reina. His voice is sweet and
compassionate almost singing to him.)

 

CHE
Reiiiiiinaaaaa?!
Reiinnnnaaaaaaaa?!
Reiiiiiiiinnnaaaaaaaaaaaa!

(Reina doesn’t move. Spotlight slowly to black.)

 

End of Act One

 

 

REINA

You think I’m going to hell don’t
you?

 

TAMIKA

It’s not what I think that counts.

 

REINA

Ah...
(pointing upwards)

You meaning the big jefe up in the
clouds?

 

TAMIKA

It’s all in the scripture. Clear
as daylight.

REINA

Ay! Sounds like your god has a big
stick up his culo?!

TAMIKA
(shocked)
Excuse me?

REINA

I no mean in a good way, either!

 

TAMIKA

Okay, this conversation is over.

 

REINA
What I say?

TAMIKA
You know exactly what!

REINA

Lo siento, mi amor. I was just
moving your funny bone.

TAMIKA

Don’t be fooling around about my
Lord, you hear?

REINA

Si, si, I hear, I hear. Tell you
what? I’ll make it up to you by
sharing some gossip.

TAMIKA
Not interested.

REINA

Are you sure? It’s very caliente.

 

TAMIKA
It is, huh?

REINA

Did you know that here is a
celebrity gracing this mausoleum?

 

TAMIKA
(intrigued)
A celebrity? I knew Mr. Greene
from room 15C was in the Lone

Ranger once but I never knew-

REINA

I was talking about me!

(Sauntering the stage)

REINA

Night after night, men threw lust
and roses at my feet...I was Cuba’s
last famous drag queen!

 

(Moving around the room like a seductress.)

 

REINA (CONT’D)
...When I was on that stage?
Dressed in my silk stockings that
showed off my statuesque legs...A
brassiere that cupped my ample
breasts...
(tracing his finger down
his thigh)
A dress slit down the side allowing
for a peek at the black garter belt
hugging my thigh...Ruby red
lipstick that brought out the
fullness of my lips. And finally,
I wore a variety of wigs:
Straight, jet black hair if they
had a thirst for the erotic, far
east. Curly, blonde if they were
in the mood for something
more...American.
(beat)
When I was on that stage, they all
wanted me: Judges, doctors,
millionaires and garbage men. The
sane and the insane. Married men?
Especially...All I had to do was
open the door and they came
stampeding in through like cattle.
(beat)
I turned Kings into Queens.
And they begged me for it! They
adored me for it!

(Reina sits down exhausted. He wipes the sweat off his
face.)

What I miss most were the stares of
men...Men, whom if you would prick,
would bleed semen...

TAMIKA
(taken in)
Oh my...

 

REINA
(suddenly very inspired)
Bueno! Enough talking!
(Walking excitedly around the room.)

 

REINA

In case you want to bring the
romance back into your marriage?

Have some foreplay before the
foreplay? Or even if you want
another man to desire you? Lesson
numero uno: Know how to move your
nalgas.

 

TAMIKA
Beg your pardon?

REINA

Your culo! Your ass! Coño! Don’t
you no speak English?

 

(Reina steps over to a radio and turns it on. He quickly
dials through different channels, stopping at the sounds of
salsa music.)

 

REINA

Sí, that’s the shit, baby.

(Reina does a continuous dance move. He moves and shakes
like a pro.)

 

TAMIKA
(amazed)
Lord, what are you doing?

 

REINA

Living, baby. Living...Now your
turn.

 

TAMIKA

No way, José. My body don’t move
like that.

REINA
(still moving)
Desire starts with the hips. Mira,
it’s always easy for a naturally
beautiful woman to seduce a man.
Why? Because beauty is for men
without imagination. But?...But if
you can make a man imagine?!...
Aye! He will eat from a dog’s bowl
if you told him to. Now try.

 

TAMIKA

I don’t want to have men eat from a
dog’s bowl!
REINA
(pulling her to him)
I said, try! Shake your peso
maker!

 

(Tamika takes a clumsy try at a dance move.)

 

REINA

Baby? This ain’t the Hula-Hoop.

 

TAMIKA

See, I told you. I just ain’t-

REINA

Put your nalgas into it. Like
this...And then like that...

 

(He dances, she follows, getting a bit better. Finally, she
finally starts to get the hang of it.)

 

REINA
(clapping loudly)
You got it, baby! Fuerte! Fuerte!
(The salsa music’s rhythm starts to hit stride!)

 

TAMIKA
I’m doing it!

 

(They keep dancing faster and faster as the music tempo is
really cooking. Suddenly, Reina is hit with a coughing
attack. She eases him back onto the couch and shuts off the
radio.)

 

TAMIKA

Enough for you, Reina of the
rhumba.

 

REINA
(resisting)
Coño. I’m going to bring out the
inner diva in you, even if it kills
me.

 

(He coughs some more.)

TAMIKA
Sit, Reina.

 

(Reina lets Tamika help him to a chair.)

 

REINA

No worry. A little morphine and
I’ll be as good as a Spring
chicken.

 

TAMIKA
You outta your mind.

 

REINA

Or maybe some cocaína. But only
just a little.

TAMIKA
-And your senses.

REINA

Dios mío. What I wouldn’t do for
some rum. Good Cubano rum...

 

TAMIKA
(spirit soaring)
God, that was great! It made me

feel so...so-

REINA

Desirable?

 

HEAD NURSE (OFFSTAGE)

Tamika?! Tamika?!

TAMIKA
(anxious)
Oh, shoot, it’s my boss.

 

HEAD NURSE (OFFSTAGE)

Tamika?!

 

TAMIKA

And it sounds like she’s in gangsta
mode. We’ll talk later.
(Tamika rushes off stage in a panic.)

 

scene six

(The lights come up on Tamika’s living room. Derek sleeps
soundly on the couch as the TV blares loudly.
Tamika enters wearing a bathrobe and carrying a portable
cassette player. She sets it down and turns off the TV.)

 

TAMIKA
(gently shaking Derek)
Baby? Baby?

DEREK
(groggy)
Damn. What time is it?

TAMIKA
Nine-thirty.

DEREK

Tsk. Then what you wakin me up
for, baby?

 

(He grabs the remote and turns the TV back on.)

 

TAMIKA
(shyly)
I thought...maybe you might be more
comfortable, you know...in bed?

 

DEREK

Shoot, Tamika-

(Tamika opens her robe and awkwardly lets it drop to the

floor, revealing a sexy negligee.)

 

DEREK
(beat)
Ah, I’m too tired for that, baby.
I’m sorry. It’s been a helluva
day...

(He fires up his pipe.)

DEREK
A helluva day...

 

(She hits play on the portable cassette player and the song,
“Besame Mucho” starts playing.)

 

DEREK
(RE: music)
What in the hell is that?

TAMIKA
(swaying)
Mood music.

DEREK

Why you movin around funny like
that?

 

TAMIKA
(sensually)
Like what, baby?

DEREK

You gonna get sea sick rocking side
to side like that.

(She seductively waves him over with her index finger.)

 

TAMIKA
Come here, big boy.

(Derek steps over to the cassette player and shuts it off.)

 

TAMIKA
(hurt)
What you do that for?

(He plops back onto the couch.)

DEREK

Baby, I told you before, I’m tired.
I worked three twelve-hour days in
a row.

 

TAMIKA

I’ve worked four...It’s just that’s
it been awhile since, since we
shared company?

DEREK
(exhaling)
Alright, baby. I’m sorry. You’re
right. You’re right.
(he kisses her)
I’ll be up to bed in a few minutes.

(He turns on the TV.)

 

 

 

TAMIKA
(noticing his lack of
enthusiasm)
Okay, baby.

 

(She picks up her robe and begins to walk away. She stops
and turns to see Derek watching TV. Suddenly angered, she
steps to him, grabs the remote and turns off the TV.)

 

DEREK
What you do that for?

TAMIKA
I wanna talk.

DEREK
I was watching TV.

TAMIKA

I want to talk about James.
(Surprised, Derek remains quiet.)

 

DEREK
You what?

 

TAMIKA
You married me.

DEREK

Yes, I married you. We got
married.

 

TAMIKA

Because it was the right thing to
do.

 

DEREK
That’s right.

TAMIKA

Because it was the responsible
thing to do.

DEREK

Yes, we did the responsible
thing...

 

 

TAMIKA
Because you loved me?

DEREK

We did what good Christian people
should do.

 

TAMIKA
We loved each other.
(He gets up and walks away.)

DEREK

Why you rehashing all this now?

 

TAMIKA

‘Cause sometimes life needs to be
rehashed.
DEREK

(avoiding)
We already talked this out a long
time ago.

 

TAMIKA
I need to be reminded.

DEREK

It ain’t nobody’s fault what
happened.

 

TAMIKA

Remember what you said after I had
the hysterectomy?

(Derek doesn’t respond.)

TAMIKA

You said, “I guess we ain’t very
lucky.”

 

DEREK

I also told you it don’t matter to
me.

 

TAMIKA

Tell me that again, Derek?

 

 

DEREK

What’s the point of asking these
questions, anyhow?!

TAMIKA
I haveta know.

DEREK

Now?! Now you gotta an itch to
know?

 

TAMIKA

I gotta hear it from you that you
woulda married me, pregnant or not?

 

DEREK

All this Monday morning
quarterbacking!

TAMIKA

I can’t-I can’t keep going through
this routine.

DEREK
What routine?

TAMIKA
This. This routine.

DEREK

We been doing this for years now.
After this long it ain’t a routine.
It’s life.

TAMIKA
Things need to change.

DEREK

Or what?

(Tamika doesn’t answer.)

DEREK

Or what, Tamika?...Let’s drop this
all before we say some unfortunate
things.

TAMIKA
I wanna talk this out.

DEREK

You wanna hear me tell you how much
better our life mighta been if we
got divorced at that time?

 

TAMIKA

No.

 

DEREK

How much the both of us regret not
having the guts to start over then?
You wanna talk about all that now?
After all that time been passed by?

 

TAMIKA

No.

 

DEREK

What chance we got starting over
out there now, huh?! Me, with my
pot belly and hair falling out?

 

TAMIKA

I want to hear you tell me that you
love me.


(He steps to her and takes her in his arms.)

 

DEREK
(tenderly)
I love you...We’ll just keep doing
what we been doing, baby. No use
thinkin, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
Look, we’ll try harder in making it
work.

 

(She nods and holds him tight.)

DEREK

And yeah, so you know? Know again?
...I would have married you,
Tamika. Pregnant or not.
Understood?
(He kisses her.)

 

scene seven
Time: 1965; a year after the last flashback.
Place: Havana, Cuba
(We hear the sounds of a packed bar: Music beneath people
laughing and having a good time. Reina, dressed in a men’s
suit, stands with a drink in his hand. Mirabella, aka
Pablito, dressed fashionably in men’s clothes enters. He
looks around and sees Reina.)

MIRABELLA

Jesus. I’m so sorry I’m late,
Reina.

 

REINA

You‘re just lucky I have the
patience of a saint.

MIRABELLA
(overly-apologetic)
Yo sé, yo sé...I’m impossible.
(They kiss each other on the cheek.)

MIRABELLA

Oh, please don’t be cross with me.
So? Que bola?

REINA

Did you see that army of “Carmens”
when you walked into the club?

 

MIRABELLA

Ay, and such ugly “Miranda”
impersonators too. They look like
a pack of burros with fruit on
their heads.

REINA

Relax, corazón. Those putas are
beneath you.

 

MIRABELLA

I can’t help it. They are all so
jealous of you!

REINA

Let those peasants have their dirt.
Last night, after my show, Gabriela
started snapping at me. Could you
believe it?

 

MIRABELLA

Coño, is that puta still not over
it?

 

REINA

Says I stole her gringo cowboy.
“My own little John Wayne”, she
calls him.

 

MIRABELLA
(agreeing)
Mmmm-mmm.

REINA

To tell you the truth I can’t get
rid of him. But, that’s a gringo
for you: Always wanting to conquer
someone or something.

MIRABELLA

Mmmm-mmm.
(looking offstage)
Oh. Speaking of which, here comes
Gabriela now...

 

(They both look offstage as if addressing Gabriela.)

 

REINA
(to Gabriela; indignant)
What’s that you barking out of your
snout?...Well, honey? Maybe if you

stopped prancing around in a mini-
skirt you might be able to keep a

man...Sí, I see those legs!
Unfortunately they are more suited
to holding up a Steinway piano than
enticing an hombre!

MIRABELLA
Mmmm-mmm. Tell it, chica!

 

REINA
(to Gabriela)
Ahora, keep walking and take your
gorilla trainer with you.

MIRABELLA
(laughing)
That tongue of yours, chica...So do
you mind telling me why you
insisted we come here dressed like
this?

 

REINA

I have to tell you something.

 

MIRABELLA

I mean, it feels so unnatural
dressing as a man. It’s so, so...

 

REINA
Masculine?

 

MIRABELLA
(correcting)
Boring. Like being at a costume
ball without a costume.

 

REINA
Get used to it.
(looking him over)
Though I have to say I love how
that guayabera looks on you.

 

MIRABELLA

Get used to it? Used to what?
(suddenly switching to
guayabera)
Do you really love it? I was going
for something Mexicano. Dime, does
it bring out my inner Anthony
Quinn?

 

REINA
(with dread)
The Marica sisters got picked up
last night outside Joey Guapa’s.

 

MIRABELLA
(dismissing)
Well, those chicas never met a
pinga they didn’t want to stroke.

REINA

I mean, by the policia.

MIRABELLA

Claro que sí! The policía pretend
to arrest them and then drive them
to the countryside where the Marica
sisters let them have their way
with them. It’s a game they been
playing for years now. You know
that?

 

REINA
(serious)
It wasn’t that kind of arrest...

 

(Reina steps away.)

 

MIRABELLA
(concerned)
Cariño?...What’s the matter?

 

REINA

This is just the beginning.

 

MIRABELLA

What is?

 

REINA

Soon it will be a bad time to be a
maricón.

 

MIRABELLA

How can you say that? I mean, look
around, Reina.

REINA

I’m talking about persecution.

 

(Mirabella looks at Reina very seriously for a long moment.)

 

MIRABELLA
(laughing it off)
Oh, por favor...

REINA
Will you listen to me?

MIRABELLA

Who is going to do this, tell me
that?

REINA
The party.

 

MIRABELLA
(getting upset)
Quién? Fidel would never allow such
a thing. La revolución would never
allow such a thing. Nunca.
Besides, I hear from the other
chicas, that his brother, Raul, is
big ganso himself.

(Reina grabs Mirabella.)

 

REINA
(lowering his voice)
Who do you think is behind it,
estúpida?

 

(Beat. Mirabella becomes very nervous.)

 

MIRABELLA

You shouldn’t say such things...

 

REINA
What if it is true?

MIRABELLA
(glancing around)
Ssssh. That’s treason to say such
mierda. To even think it will get
you shot.

REINA

I know this to be happening.

 

MIRABELLA

From who? Forget it I don’t want
to know.

 

REINA

An admirer. Judge Jerez...Have I
ever misled you?

MIRABELLA

No.

 

REINA

Have I not taught you everything?

 

MIRABELLA

Yes, I have learned from a maestro.

 

REINA

Cuidate. Things are changing for
the worse.

 

MIRABELLA
What are we going to do?

 

REINA

For now, we keep a low profile.

 

MIRABELLA
(indignant)
Low profile? Me? Hmmm! Chica,
that’s like asking Marilyn Monroe
to stop looking so fabulosa.

 

REINA
(grabbing Mirabella)
You have to trust me on this!

 

MIRABELLA
You’re scaring me, Reina.

 

REINA
Do you trust me?

MIRABELLA
Claro. You know I do...

 

REINA

Don’t worry. I’ll keep us safe.

 

MIRABELLA
I love you, Reina.

REINA

I love you too. Con todo mi
corazón...

(Blackout.)

 

Scene Eight
(SPOTLIGHT on Reina sitting in a bathtub as Tamika gives him
a sponge bath.)

 

TAMIKA
So, who’s Mirabella?

REINA

Where you hear that name?

 

TAMIKA

You repeated that name over and
over in your sleep.

REINA
I no remember.

TAMIKA

I figure maybe it was the town where
you were from?

REINA
I no remember.

TAMIKA

Oh...So how’s the water? Not too
caliente?

REINA
(suddenly cheerful)
If a man was bathing me it would be
just right.

TAMIKA

I guess I’m going to have to do.

 

REINA

The men nurses are scared of me.
Like I am contagious.

TAMIKA

I suppose you’ve had sex with lots
of men, huh?

REINA
(worried)
My doctor has been asking me a lot
of questions about my sex life.

TAMIKA
(comforting)
You relax now. Soon enough, you’ll
be as right as rain.

 

REINA

Tu sabes? Mi papa was a great lover
of women. I get that power from
him.

 

TAMIKA

He was real womanizer, huh?

 

REINA

Sí. Until he gave mama
syphilis. Jodido! You should seen
her chase him through the streets
with her machete.

TAMIKA
For real?!

REINA

He suffered from diabetes so his
feet were always swollen. He
didn’t make it very far before he
tripped over himself, fell into the
street and got run over by a bus.

 

TAMIKA
(shaking her head sadly)
Lord what a shame.

REINA

...mama never married again.

 

TAMIKA

She still loved him, huh?

 

REINA
(shaking his head)
She got too fat. But men still
wanted her...

TAMIKA

So then how come she never re-
married?

 

REINA

In our barrio, most men were poor.
And every hombre knew that they
could not afford to support this
woman with the insatiable appetite
of a goat.
(beat)
I think that’s why she ate so much.
So, the men would finally let her
be a widow...

 

TAMIKA
(shaking her head sadly)
That’s so romantic. Still loving
your daddy after all that.

 

REINA

She was born from the tears of
Yemayá. Cursed from the moment she
was pulled from the womb.

 

TAMIKA
You were very close.

REINA

Until I was nine when mama caught
me wearing women’s clothes. She
got so scared that I was turning
into a maricón that she took me to
a priest, praying that the Holy
Ghost would chase the gay out of
me.

 

TAMIKA

Well, we know how that worked out.

 

REINA

The priests could no understand how
Jesus could walk on water but can
no make a gay man straight? Mama
finally get so desperate, she takes
me to a priestess of la Ocha and
gives me this potion to drink
called, “Gay be gone.”

TAMIKA
No go, huh?

REINA

Chica! It made me even more gay!

 

(They share a moment in laughter.)

REINA (CONT’D)
Had it, mama take me to see a

prostituta with these huge worn-
down tetas! But I jump out of the

window and run for my life. My
pinga swinging in the wind...

 

TAMIKA
(amused)
You are scandalous, Reina!

 

REINA

And you? What scandalous things
you have to tell me?

TAMIKA
(giggling)
Me?! I’ve never been the type of
girl that men wanted to do
scandalous things with.

 

REINA

Morena, please! They must have!

 

TAMIKA
(shaking her head)
Momma’d tell me, “Lord knows
Tamika, you got plenty of inner
beauty, little girl. But it’s a
darn shame none of that ever showed
up on the outside. Darn shame.”

 

REINA
Well, fuck her.

TAMIKA
(besides herself)
Reina?! That’s my mother!

 

REINA

Then fuck her even more!
You proved her wrong. You have a
man, sí?

TAMIKA

Yes, Derek. We met in the most
romantic of ways.

REINA

Tell me?

 

TAMIKA

It was at Friday night bingo at my
church.

 

REINA
(rolling his eyes)
You one chica loca, alright!

 

TAMIKA
You shush, now!
(going back to that old
feeling)

I’m looking over my Bingo card and
I glance up and see this man is
giving me the eye. He’s got a mushy
nose and crooked hairline but no
question about it: He’s shooting
me a smile. At the end of the night
he walks up to me and asks if I
want to grab some coffee and maybe
some pie?

REINA
(sarcastic)
You’re kidding?

TAMIKA
(nostalgic)
He was a real go getter...Two
months later we were married.

 

REINA
He knock you up, eh?

TAMIKA
(blushing)
What?

 

REINA
You Jezebel!

TAMIKA

He was so charming, I couldn’t
resist.

 

REINA

And how old your baby now?

 

TAMIKA

What? He’s not with us.

 

REINA
I no understand?...

 

(Silence.)

 

REINA
(realizing)
Oh...

 

TAMIKA

God’s taking good care of him, I’m
sure.

 

REINA

And you never had another?

 

(Tamika doesn’t respond.)

 

REINA

What kind of hombre is that man of
yours that he no give you many new
babies?

 

TAMIKA

It wasn’t his fault, Reina.

 

(Silence.)

 

TAMIKA

Besides, who wants to have a child
when the Ruskies could nuke us to
smithereens any day now, right?...

 

(Reina takes her hand and affectionately kisses it.)

 

REINA
(beat)
Ay...What heartbroken women are we,
eh corazón?

Lights slowly to back

 

scene nine
Time: 1965; flashback
Place : Havana, Cuba
(Spotlight up on black stage. We hear the sounds of hooting
and hollering. Long, ear piercing whistling are combined
with taunts of, “Hola, maracón!/Oy, faggot. Suck my pinga!”
A moment after, Reina (31 years old) falls into the spotlight
as if he was violently thrown. He struggles to one knee.
His face bruised and dress stained with blood and in tatters.
The unseen voices become louder and more violent.
Suddenly, Reina gets up defiantly and confronts the unseen
voices.)

 

REINA
(calling out violently)
You think you can destroy me! You
can’t! That’s right! You hear me,
putos?!...Come here and I’ll show
what a maricón I can really be !

(Reina takes a wild swing at the voices but spins around and
falls to the floor. We hear wild laughter and ear piercing
whistles!
Spotlight on D.S.R. The same revolutionary man we saw in the
opening scene stands staring at Reina, who lies motionless on
the floor. He calls out to Reina. His voice is sweet and
compassionate almost singing to him.)

 

CHE
Reiiiiiinaaaaa?!
Reiinnnnaaaaaaaa?!
Reiiiiiiiinnnaaaaaaaaaaaa!

(Reina doesn’t move. Spotlight slowly to black.)

 

End of Act One

Read Act 2 here.