Of Putos, Putas, Trolos, Tortilleras Y De Los 41Tuesday, August 01, 2006
When I attended Angels in America (Part 1) a couple of weeks ago I found the on-stage simulated gay sex difficult to watch. I realized that I can tell myself that I have liberal views but they must be a sham. It was all made palatable by the excellent male actors who had the demanding gay roles. In the end good acting won out. I have been thinking a lot about gayness with all the gay pride stuff that has been appearing in local publications.
I remember a handsome man who wore eye makeup before metrosexuals made it fashionable. He was Raymond Burr's companion. I met him twice since I photographed Burr twice. I did not know of Raymond Burr's sexual persuasion nor did it seem to matter once I knew. Burr was charming. His companion wore an HMCS Sackville tie which conmemorated its saving (the last of the heroic Canadian Corvettes that helped turn the tide in the War of the Atlantic in WWII). The gentleman explained to me how Burr had involved himself in a campaign to rescue the ship from being broken up.
Back in the early 50s (I was 14), I used to bowl in the little bowling alley in the American Colony in Nueva Rosita, a mining town in Coahuila, Mexico. We used to snicker and circle any total of 41 pins. It seems that sometime in the early 50s, Mexico City cops broke up a raucous gay party and arrested 41 men. Since then the number has been used to describe gay men in Mexico. He is one of the forty one! In Argentina we call gay men trolos and lesbians tortilleras. I don't know the origin of the former and the latter confuses me as a tortilla maker in Argentina would make omelettes while in Mexico she would make tortillas.
I have a great aunt who may be a tortillera. My grandmother used to tell me of Pilar de Irureta Goyena who, "Dressed like a man and rode horses like a man." I met Pilar not to long ago in Vancouver at a large Chinese restaurant. The call came one afternoon. The woman on the phone with the mezzo-soprano voice had instructed me, "Alejandro bring your two daughters, I want to meet them." This mysterious woman has apartments in Manila, San Francisco and Vancouver. I asked her about her riding and she proudly showed me photographs of her posing with General Douglas MacArthur. "I won many riding awards," she told me.
But Spanish, and particularly Argentine Spanish can be peculiarly inventive. A couple of years ago when I visited Buenos Aires in November I noticed on the wall of the College of Philosophy of the University of Buenos Aires this insult that described the dean as "Decano, puto, puta." In this context puto means gay while puta is a female whore. Try to figure that one out.
It is not proper or justifiable for me to now write that I have many gay friends and I feel comfortable with them. It will suffice for me to post my favourite gay photograph. In the photo you have the most passionate male dancer that ever danced for Ballet BC, Miroslav Zydowicz (holding the paint brush), and artist Tiko Kerr. In switching the role of the painter with the ballet dancer I asked Miroslav to gently use Kerr's brush on Kerr as if he were petting a cat.