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"El Waya": A warrior and eight decades of walking
Once again, cultural institutions in Cienfuegos will sponsor the "Cantándole al Benny" Performance Contest, established by the Tomás Terry Theater and the Rafael Lay Music and Entertainment Marketing Company of this city, with a view to promoting and stimulating artistic talent in times of pandemic.
According to the information offered by Lic. Yankiel Ayala Yero, Communication and Dissemination specialist of the "Tomás Terry", the materials must be recorded with a cell phone of good resolution, in horizontal position or with a semi-professional camera, thus ensuring that the audiovisual has the minimum adequate quality.
In addition to the above, it is necessary to send a biographical summary that does not exceed one page, and personal data including telephone number, plus e-mail if available.
The works will be received until October 10, and from October 11 to 19, the jury will meet to give the results on October 20, in salute to the Day of Cuban Culture.
"Four finalists per category will be selected; four per group, regardless of format, and the same number for soloists, for a total of eight finalists," Ayala Yero said. These musical works will be announced through the official Facebook page of the Tomás Terry Theater, and from that date on, voting for the Popularity Award will begin until the end of the month.
The culmination of the contest will take place on February 2022, with the realization of a musical show at the "Terry" commemorating the 59th anniversary of the death of the star of Cienfuegos, where the winners will participate along with prestigious artists.
English version Hector Hdez.
The first thing that calls the attention in this "sentimental melodrama" is the title itself. Almost is an adverb of quantity that alludes to "a little less than", "approximately", "just a little"; which infers, once the link with the cultural concept that is the word male is established, that "someone" is not a complete being according to the patterns of masculinity and hetero dominance. In fact, the term male is used when one wants to make a sexual distinction with women.
The short film plays precisely with the misunderstandings of a supposed sexual identity, when the protagonist is forced by the leader of a gang of thugs to disguise herself as a chauffeur to enter the palace of a rich aristocratic family, which they intend to rob. This experience leads him to meet the young heir of the family and, in the process of teaching him how to drive the car, to fall in love with him. Of course, the affective relationship could not be called into question; the story had to save the "manhood" of the gallant and in the moments of the climax, when the situation has reached the limit of what is permissible, achieved the sufficient laughter of the audience in their "humorous glimpses", the balance is recovered. It is then that the trick is confessed and the young man apologizes to the girl for having disguised himself as a man.
Clearly, playing with "almost homosexual" love (there is a crossover between sexual identity and gender identity, albeit at a paradigmatic level) has its limits and Peón (prejudiced by his macho environment and being a hetero-Catholic man) is convinced that there can be no ambiguities. To conceive a story about otherness (which would have been a precursor in Las Américas; the short film was completed in 1922); taking into account that in Germany a film like Richard Oswald's Different from the Others (1919), with openly homosexual characters, had already been made, would have no other destiny than scandal; or worse, failure. Obviously, it was not the director's intention to conceive a story of this nature; the aim was to distract audiences and offer the actors a chance to show off.
Having played a boy was a daring move for the singer Blanquita Steevers at the time (although it was not unprecedented; almost a decade earlier, other performers, such as Mary Pickford, had done it), a gamble from which she emerged triumphant. The critics came to distinguish her as a "talented" actress and this type of role or character played by a woman as a "complex personality". Unfortunately, the short film did not survive in time and we cannot judge the histrionic or narratological details; however, hers must not have been a performance devoid (in the style of this kind of "illusory transvestism") of hyperbolized manly gestures and the relevant clothing, with beret and moustache included, as seen in some photographs.
Antonio Perdices, the most attractive leading man of the silent Cuban cinema /Photo: Author's Archive
Curiously, Antonio Perdices, the most attractive leading man of silent Cuban cinema, debuted in the film, an actor with a striking resemblance to the Latin lover Rodolfo Valentino, who in the film was made up and dressed as a French courtier, in the style of Monsieur Beaucaire (Luciano Castillo, 2011). Precisely, Valentino was a bisexual, mannered man (although the gestural mode of silent cinema veiled these hints), who usually appeared with a vampish face and delicate make-up.
On the other hand, it was the first time that the national cinema and the invisible community of Cuban gays had their own sex symbol, which was frequently noted by the chroniclers of the time when they praised the beauty of the artist. By the way, at this stage, male canons were scarce; besides Valentino, the Mexican Ramón Novarro deserves mention, who, when he died in 1926, became the most notorious Latino in the film industry.
Could we qualify Perdices as a gay icon in Cuban cinema? Almost certainly; but his scarce and stray film production, his early retirement, put an end to a promising career; to which must be added the shyness and invisibility of the gay public of the time. In fact, the theories of Magnus Hirschfeld and his contributions to the LGBT rights movement had not even been socialized in Cuba, or the echoes of the World League for Sexual Reform (1928), which sought the acceptance of homosexuality. The Cuban gay preferred to live in the closet, omitted by society. How to publicly manifest his attraction to Perdices? At the same time, the actor soon loses his physical line, which ends up marked by obesity; an unforgivable trait for the demands of the guild.
Casi Varón, frontally, is not a gay cinema, its will is not to show or defend a lifestyle or sexual orientation, but the first space (at least in the cinema) where Cuban homosexuals could locate a latent fantasy with which to identify themselves and stew their imaginary, probable history between almost two men.
English version Hector Hdez.
Until the last moment of the cinematographic event La Piel del Cine, held during the bicentennial of Cienfuegos (2019), we were waiting for his presence; however, work emergencies in Spain stopped him from attending the event. Carlos Miguel Caballero (1968), who frequently visits his mother in his native Ciego Montero, then regretted not being able to fulfill the commitment set and socialize his practices alongside other histrions, such as Daisy Granados, Francisco García and Alexis Díaz de Villegas.
Although he has distanced himself somewhat from his acting performances in recent years, in pursuit of coordination and business responsibilities in the industry, the artist still figures as one of our theatrical, television and film honors.
From a very early age, Caballero showed an inclination for dance and stage acting. This acting vocation led him to study at the Instituto Superior de Arte, graduating in 1993. His theatrical promotion took place in the production of La Boda (Teatro de la Luna, 1994), by Raúl Martín, in which he played the role of Alberto. After staying for some years in the theater group La Ventana, directed by María Elena Ortega, he is recruited by El Público, a project of Carlos Díaz that places him in plays such as Calígula (1996) or El Rey Lear (1997).
Although he made his audiovisual debut in 1988, through the short film El Sueño,dorable by Orlando Domínguez, it was the late filmmaker Tomás Piard who gave him the most engrossing roles during the 1990s, especially Pablo in the series Adorable fantasma (1990), which discovered his first and tragic love, and involved him in the controversial Boceto (1991), a rarity produced by the Saiz Brothers Association and the ICAIC. "There we had to do everything. One day you were the protagonist and at the same time you ran with the continuity of the sequences. No one imagines that this practice has been very useful for my work in soap operas, although sometimes it becomes a disadvantage, because I get into areas of the production where I shouldn't," confesses the actor.
In 1995 he had a brief appearance in the Tv soap opera El año que viene, by Héctor Quintero, and in 1996 he temporarily settled in Rome, Italy. The following year he plays an Italianized Cuban tourist guide in the feature film Facciamo Festa. Later he moved to Spain and played Timoteo Lugones in La vuelta de El Coyote (1998), directed by Mario Camus. He then acted in the series Periodistas (Malas calles, 1998) and played Pablo in the film El mandado (1998). He was also hired in Miami by the famous company La Má Teodora and under the direction of Alberto Sarraín, he played Ricardo and Tito in the play Cuentas pendientes. He also works in some TV dramas produced by Latin channels and gets a co-starring role in the film Chambelona (United States, 2001), by Cuban actor and director Larry Villanueva. Just in 2001, he has a special role in the Cuban adventure series El elegido del tiempo, by Rafael Acosta and Miguel Sosa.
His performance as Chance Wayne in the play Dulce pájaro de juventud, by Tennessee Williams, directed by Eduardo Corbé, surprises the Brazilian producer Arnaldo Limanski, who gives him the character of Mario in the second version of Vale todo (2002). During these years he participated in numerous soap operas, where he often plays roles of strong personality: Prisionera (2004), in which he plays El Cobra, María de los Ángeles (Peru, 2005), his return to the leading role, now in the skin of a young provincial man who traces his career in the city, and Olvidarte jamás (2006). In the immediate future, he stars in The Circle of Time, an HBO romantic comedy directed by Puerto Rican Veronica Caicedo. This time he plays Joaquin, the Latino lawyer whose life is marked by cultural contrasts when he falls in love with a New York painter. This work is an achievement in his career, as he overcomes the obstacles of a production spoken in English. "The day I arrived at the casting I asked for a script in Spanish; to my surprise, they gave me one in English. So, I said: 'I'm sorry, I don't speak English'. The funny thing is that when they listened to me they commented that it didn't sound so bad. In the end, I learned the phonetics of the dialogues and they gave me the lead role," says Caballero.
In 2006 he filmed the soap opera Marina in Mexico City, where he plays the villain Julio. For this production, his diction teacher was Adriana Barraza, the actress nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Babel. That year he also participated in Acorralada (2007), playing the role of Macario, a young bachelor, alongside Cubans William Levy and Orlando Fundichelly, and received a New Time award for best actor.
Soon after he returned to the island with several theatrical projects, and in 2010 he recreated Carlos in Verde verde, by Enrique Pineda Barnet, the young gay man who has not come out of the closet and allows himself to be seduced by a merchant shipping paramedic. Pineda thought of Javier Bardem for the role of Carlos, but did not know how to reach him. Finally, he found Carlos Miguel in New York and with the recommendation of painter Rocío García, he decided to cast him. "We decided to try Carlos Miguel, who immediately came, went over all the hurdles. There was no particular benefit: he grabbed the character, he showed an amazing identity; there was nothing else to do but push him, because he brought out a lot of himself. I am very happy with Héctor and Carlos, I think they were both essential", Pineda Barnet told Cine Cubano in 2011. His last film performance was in Petra (2020), a short film by Randy Valdés in which he plays Frank, along with Alicia and Fernando Hechavarría.
Carlos Miguel with his colleague Héctor Noas. /Photo: Archive
At 53 years old, Carlos Miguel still bets on theater, and often visits his hometown, locks himself at home with his mother and walks barefoot through the place where he spent his childhood and adolescence. By all accounts, he has Ciego Montero in his veins.
English version Hector Hdez.