Masks (Máscaras) 2014
Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Directed by Lázaro González González
DVD, color, 88 min.
High School - General Adult
Acting, AIDS/HIV, Area Studies, Discrimination, Gender Identity, Transsexuals
Date Entered: 03/10/2016Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
In this short documentary, two of Cuba’s most well-known drag queens are introduced. For performances in Havana nightclubs, Riubel Alarcón goes through the nightly ritual of transforming himself into Margot Parapar, a bejeweled diva who dispenses jokes and advice from the stage. Pedro Manuel González, as Roxana Rojo, takes on the persona of a Russian émigré with a penchant for lavish costumes and maudlin ballads. While both describe drag as a form of artistic expression that attracts frustrated actors, in a repressive post-revolution machismo culture, these men were also seen as ideologically deviant. They continued to perform throughout the period of active persecution of transsexuals, providing education and advice to the gay community when the government would not. Now middle-aged, Alarcón and González reflect on their youth, a changing social climate, and what it means to be a drag queen in today’s Cuba.