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LA Is My Babe

LA Is My Babe

2012 marks my 25th anniversary of landing in Los Angeles. Yup, I came here with a dream, a prayer and the runs. I was a mess. I had failed my experiment of attempting to live in New York City. In 1986 I left my beloved cable car town of San Francisco for the chance to get into NYU’s Graduate Film School. I should have applied first and gotten accepted and then moved out to the Big Apple. I know, incredibly stupid but I was under the influence of Nyquil and Dayquil.

After receiving my NYU rejection letter at the end of March 1987, I was fiercely depressed and I knew I couldn’t stay in the east coast any longer. I was in great need of a huge hug from my history, California, Chicanos, Mexicanos, familia and my mother’s cooking. I wanted so badly to return to my homeland but I knew I couldn’t go back to San Francisco; my friends had thrown me such a lavish going away party and I wasn’t about to return the cool gifts. And I didn’t want to live with my parents and sleep in their room in my baby crib. So I got a hold of the only person I knew in Los Angeles, my dear friend Vivian. I phoned her and asked, “Remember how you said I should be living in LA for my performing career? Well, can I come tomorrow?” Vivian let me know I could stay with her for as long as I needed. Whew.

Six days later after getting the boot from NYU, my darling sister Eleanor (Ask a Battle Axe) bought me a one-way plane ticket to the city of angels. I had my suitcase in one hand and my electric typewriter, (yeah I was mod), in the other. I was thrilled to be coming home, but my ego was flatter than a tortilla. I felt like a huge failure. Here I was a 27 year old stranger in Los Angeles, no car, about $100 bucks in my pocket, and I had to call my mom to tell her I had returned. I knew she was going to feel better that we were in the same time zone but she was going to be disappointed with my vagabond life. “Why can’t you get a real job and settle down?! Stand up comedy is nonsense!” Maybe those weren’t her exact words but about ten of them were.

After landing a waitress job at the Smokehouse Restaurant, Home of the World Famous Garlic Bread—which was total bullshit—I worked like a crazy woman to bring in the dough and maintain my lesbo mullet.

Gradually, I seeped into the LA theater/performance scene and got a hold of friends of friends of friends who knew friends who could connect me with their friends in the business. See how that works? I tried the mainstream arena but that was extremely homophobic and I didn’t feel safe. I did connect with queer organizations that allowed me to perform my stand up comedy at their events where I was able to let the masses know I was a veteran performer.

Just when I was about to embark on my one-woman show career, I met up with the group, VIVA Lesbian and Gay Latino Artists. An artist collective that discovered, empowered and promoted lesbian and gay Latino artists. Nationality, sexuality, gender, art, activism, politics all came together and it happened at the perfect time. I was one of the outspoken leaders of VIVA from 1992-2000. Being involved with VIVA made me realize the work that I was creating as an out Chicana lesbian writer/performer was ground breaking, important, inspirational, empowering, fierce, triumphant and sexy.

And the rest, is history. I adore LA. She’s my babe.

Come on down for my lecture/presentation about my career, “Queer Chicana Lesbian Activism Through Comedy.” Wednesday May 9, 2012, 3:30-5PM. UC Santa Barbara, South Hall 1623. This event is presented by the UCSB Department of Chicana/o Studies Colloquium Series.

Book Monica Palacios for your upcoming university and cultural events that focus on: LGBT, Chicana/Latina, Theater, Women, Gender, Performance, Race, Class, Sexuality, Vegetarian Food.

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  • Great job, Monica! Would love to join you in SB but right now I’m in Santa Cruz, Bolivia working with the street kids… and writing. Good luck! You rock!!

  • Tisha says:

    Monica, you are truly an inspiration to all of us transplanted Angelenos (only 21.5 years for me). WISH I could be in Santa Barbara for your lecture. The students are so lucky — I should know. I still talk about La Llorona in 1996. Muchisimas Gracias!