Almodovar & after – memorable film portrayals of gay Latin American and Spanish characters – Brief Article

Nicholas Velasquez

WITHOUT A DOUBT, Spain’s Pedro Almodovar remains the pioneer and prince among filmmakers bringing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Hispanic characters to the silver screen. Yet others in the United States and abroad are now following his lead. Herewith, a time line of some of the most memorable characters from the past 21 years–including several not played by Antonio Banderas.

1980 Pepi, Luci, Bom Pedro Almodovar, Spain

Pepi (Carmen Maura), a bisexual hooker, becomes entangled in a menage a trois with her lover Bom (Olivido Gara) and Luci (Eva Siva), a bored housewife. Sex, drugs, and masochistic lesbianism ensues. Not for the squeamish. (L, B)

1982 Labyrinth of Passion Almodovar, Spain

Antonio Banderas got his start as the gay Islamic terrorist Sedac; Imanol Arias plays his target, Riza Nero, the heir to an overthrown Arab ruler who is at first preoccupied with men and makeup but eventually goes straight. (G, B, C)

1985 Kiss of the Spider Woman Hector Babenco, USA-Brazil

William Hurt won an Oscar as Molina, a jailed window dresser who falls in love with the ostensibly straight political prisoner (Raul Julia) he is supposed to be spying on. (G, B, C)

Mala Noche Gus Van Sant, USA

A young white grocery clerk (Tim Streeter) falls madly in love with a 16-year-old Mexican (Doug Cooeyate) who accepts his money and, briefly, his affections but is not interested in a relationship. (G, B)

1987 Law of Desire Almodovar, Spain

Gay filmmaker Pablo (Eusebio Poncela) has a sister (Carmen Maura) who used to be his brother, until she underwent a sex change in order to please her lover–their father! Antonio Banderas is Antonio, an unbalanced fan who will stop at nothing to have Pablo to himself. (G, T, B)

1983 Philadelphia Jonathan Demme, USA

Antonio Banderas (again!) plays Miguel, longtime lover to Andrew (Oscar-winner Tom Hanks), a gay lawyer with AIDS who battles in court his dismissal from a top law firm. (G)

Strawberry and Chocolate Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio, Cuba

In the Havana of 1979, an unlikely romance develops between David (Vladimir Cruz), a shy straight lost soul who blindly believes in the Revolution, and Diego (Jorge Perugorria), a swishy but intelligent gay man. (G, B)

1995 Costa Brava Marta Balletbo-Coll, Spain

Anna (Marta Balletbo-Coll), a monologuist and Barcelona tour guide, meets and falls in love with Montserrat (Desi del Valle), a visiting American scientist. Won the audience favorite award at San Francisco’s gay and lesbian film festival. (L)

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar Beeban Kidron, USA

Latina drag neophyte Chi-Chi (John Leguizamo) hitches a ride west with drag vets Vida (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema (Wesley Snipes). The trio wind up stranded and accepted as women in a Midwestern town, where Chi-Chi briefly wins the heart of a local boy (Jason London). (G, C)

1996 Celestial Clockwork Fina Torres, France-Venezuela

Lovely Ana (Ariadna Gil) flees her Caracas wedding in favor of Paris and a love affair with closed-circuit psychoanalyst Alcanie (Evelyne Didi). (L, B)

Stonewall Nigel Finch, U.K.

A young bumpkin (Frederick Weller) comes to New York in the swingin’ ’60s and falls for a proud Latino drag queen (Guillermo Diaz). They help start the June 1969 Stonewall riots. (G, L, C)

1997 Love! Valour! Compassion! Joe Mantello, USA

John (John Glover), an ill-tempered Brit who detests his twin, James (also Glover), brings along hunky Puerto Rican dancer Ramon (Randy Becker) to three holiday weekend gatherings at a gay couple’s country home. (G)

AU Over Me Alex Sichel, USA.

Fresh from My So-called Life, out Latino actor Wilson Cruz plays teen Jesse, gay best friend to Claude (Alison Folland), a girl coming to terms with her own sexuality in a gritty New York neighborhood. (G, L, B)

1998 Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss Tommy O’Haver, USA

Budding lensman Billy (Sean P. Hayes) breaks off an affair with his ear-licking Latin lover, Fernando (Armando Valdes-Kennedy), after he falls for a waiter-model (Brad Rowe). (G, B, C)

Relax … It’s Just Sex! P.J. Castellaneta, USA

Within an extended group of gay, lesbian, and straight friends is HIV-positive Latino Javi (Eddie Garcia). (G, L, B)

Don’t Tell Anyone Francisco J. Lombardi, Peru

Growing up in Peru, Joaquin (Santiago Magill) struggles to accept his sexuality; the film exposes the destructiveness of machismo in Latin culture and offers a peek into gay life in Lima. (G)

1999 All About My Mother Almodovar, Spain

After a family tragedy, Manuela (Cecilia Roth) flees to Barcelona to find old friend Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a transgendered hooker, and winds up as the assistant to famous lesbian actress Huma (Marisa Paredes). (L, B, T)

But I’m a Cheerleader Jamie Babbit, USA

Among the young people at an “ex-gay” rehabilitation camp is Latino flamer Andre (Star Maps’ Douglas Spain). (G, L)

2000 Before Night Falls Julian Schnabel, USA

Real-life gay Cuban writer and person with AIDS Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem) is imprisoned and exiled for being both a “deviant” and a dissident. (G, C)

Nico and Dani Cesc Gay, Spain

Two 17-year-old pals engage in sex play, but while Nico (Jordi Vilches) really likes girls, Dani (Fernando Ramallo) likes Nico. (G, B)

Character Key:

G = Gay male * L = Lesbian * B = Bisexual T = Transgendered * C = Cross-dressing

COPYRIGHT 2001 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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