Who are you and what is your show called?
I’m Hector Chavarria and my Q-STAGE show is called The Big Gay Mexican Show. It will be presented during the first weekend of Q-STAGE May 13-15, 2016.
As one of our 2016 Q-STAGE Artists, can you tell us about where the idea(s) for your show came from?
Well, I have been working on Big Gay Mexican for almost two years. The reason I created this persona was because I realized that someone like me wasn’t being represented positively in the media. I decided it was about time that a bigger build, Mexican American man, who happens to be homosexual, be shown as a proud individual to be himself.
Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they are how are they contributing?
This process was crazy. So, I started working with Stacy Schultz, my director/roommate, as soon as I found out I was chosen for Q-STAGE. We both decided that this should not be a one-person show and that we should have at least two actors be part of the show. I asked Jen Buckhout and Donn Saylor to be in my show giving them very little information about their characters and I’m so fortunate they still said, yes! Once I knew who was involved the story came alive in my head. I started to create characters and storylines and the final product turned out better than I expected. With my art, people around me inspire me and I’m so happy to be surrounded by so many awesome spirits. I think the BGM crew contributed more to this project than they know.
Why do you feel it is important to share this story/the story(ies) of your performance with the community?
Being a bigger person in the gay community can be difficult. Many gay men, not all, like to fat-shame. Being Chicano in Minnesota is also challenging. I’m a minority here, whereas in El Paso, TX, I was not. The Big Gay Mexican Show, in a way, is fighting against stereotypes. I want to spread the message that being different is a good thing. Being different is beautiful.
What aspects of your queer identity do you hope to express through your Q-STAGE piece?
Although BGM deals a lot with identity, I want to bring out more the struggle I have with relationships with other gay men versus the struggle I have with myself as a gay man.
Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? Have you been involved with 20% Theatre in the past and, if so, in what ways?
I consider myself a performance artist. I have written and performed art pieces in various cabarets throughout Minneapolis. In my pieces I always include dance and song because I always wanted to do musical theater. When I first moved to Minneapolis and started auditioning, I began to realize that I was going to have a hard time being cast because of who I was: a big, gay Mexican. So eventually I started writing my own work because if they weren’t going to let me sing and dance then I was going to have to make my own opportunities myself! I have not been involved with 20%Theatre before but I am so grateful to be involved now. The work 20% Theatre does to celebrate queer artists is incredible. I’m so happy they exist because the artist they promote, such as myself, need to be heard!
What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?
Equality is important to me. I want everyone to be treated the same, to have the same rights. With my work, I tend to focus on body image and positive self-esteem, and the fact that these issues also effect men. Living in a society that focuses a lot on physical beauty is hard when you yourself do not fit in with what is considered the norm.
What other artists or performances have inspired you over the years?
Recently, Taylor Mac, who had a one-person show at Guthrie in April, inspired me. Taylor Mac also wrote the play Hir that was produced at Mixed Blood Theatre. Taylor has a very clever way of bringing out serious issues but adding a twist of comedy and fun to them. I think that is genius. It’s a way to inform the audience but also allowing them to enjoy themselves.
Are you working on any other projects or are there others you hope to work on?
I am in the works of starting a YouTube Channel. At first it was going to be The Big Gay Mexican Show on video but then I decided to expand myself and create another character. My new character is a cow named Vaco La Vaca. Vaco is a genderqueer cow. It’s in the early stages of production but so far Vaco is a lot of fun!
What is your favorite hangout spot and why?
I love the 19 Bar. I love the atmosphere and the people. In my opinion it’s the one gay bar in Minneapolis where I don’t feel left out.
When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies?
When I’m not working on art I like to go on long walks. Its one of my favorite things to do. I also go to a lot of theater shows; I like to be surrounded by theater so I go to as much of it as possible. But mostly I like to stay home and just relax; life can get so busy that sometimes being at home can feel like paradise.