BWW Interview: Migguel Anggelo Talks LATINXOXO at Joe's Pub
Migguel Anggelo returns to Joe's Pub with a reworked presentation of LATINXOXO on October 15th, November 6, and November 7. In the show, Anggelo shatters the boundaries of gender through an exploration of the stereotypes that his machismo father put upon him from birth. Through the concert experience, Anggelo moves the audience through iconic pop hits, original compositions, and the Spanish boleros of his youth, to remind them that the greatest love of all is right there in the mirror. To get the inside scoop on LATINXOXO, I chatted with Anggelo about the show.
LATINXOXO is returning to Joe's Pub on October 15th, November 6th, and November 7th. What is it like bringing this show back to this stage?
We are extra excited because this is a brand new version of the show. LATINXOXO is MUCH more personal now. We have been working hard on this piece for the last six months, reacting to feedback as well as our own feelings about the work. We are excited to get reactions from the audiences this fall. We have added some new songs, cut some things too, and the show now contains a more personally revealing arc. It's a new show!
We tested it for the first time at the Afterglow Festival in Provincetown earlier this September, and reactions were wonderful. I think people will find the piece very moving.
The show is intensely personal, dealing with your love/hate relationship with you father and your own queer identity. What was it like creating LATINXOXO?
Migguel Anggelo: You know, at times it was hard. I mean, my father died tragically when I was 13 years old, so I didn't know him very well, and I was the one who witnessed his death. "Talking to him" in this work is like coming to terms with the father I didn't know and who didn't have a chance to know and accept who I have become.
We all deal with expectations that our parents have of us - whether about sexual identity or of careers, who to love, or any number of things, right? These are universal feeling regardless of what sexual orientation or gender you identify with or which country you are from.
The fear of disappointing a parent or our parents can be such a tricky thing to navigate for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Yet, this fear isn't exclusively ours. How do you make that struggle universal, so it resonates with all audiences regardless of their sexual or gender identities?
Migguel Anggelo: At the core, we are all the same. We all bleed when our skin is cut. We all want love and to be loved. We all confront stereotypes, and we all want to be accepted.
In the case of LATINXOXO, we use stereotypes of "Latin lover" clichés - a Virgin, a whore, and a toreador/matador to explore expectations of what manliness looked like in my father's eyes. These are cultural stereotypes, not LGBTQIA stereotypes, and we believe everyone can relate.
With the championing of the "masc" identity so prevalent inside and outside of gay culture, talk to me about why it is important for you to embrace and discuss the Femme/Macho dichotomy in LATINXOXO?
Migguel Anggelo: We all have masculine and feminine sides of us. It's just that, as children, we are taught to act a specific way. In breaking down these roles, we explore feelings rather than the boundaries of gender. Feelings are gender-free.
The Virgin/Whore dichotomy, which usually is presented through a feminist lens, is also a part of the show. What motivated you to include this in your narrative, and how does it affect men?
Migguel Anggelo: I grew up in a Catholic family. Every Sunday we went to church and prayed, even with the rosary at home. I realized as a teenager, though, that religion wasn't for me, but I still believe in the Virgin, in angels, and in God.
The Virgin is such a key part of Catholicism as well as a proper Latin upbringing, and she is such symbol of goodness. Therefore, she was a perfect archetype to explore the "pure" side of me - or the expectations of the pure side of me.
We each have our "good" sides, our holy sides, but underneath, passions boil. The Catholic church has tons of examples of that, right? While the Virgin is actually a female, I channel her to explore expectations around purity. Purity as a general concept, not "masculine" or "feminine" purity. But, I'm still always Migguel channeling that energy.
Multiple audiences have seen LATINXOXO. What has been your favorite response or responses to the show?
Migguel Anggelo: Even though there are tons of humorous moments in the show and the costumes are really outrageous, people are moved by the universal feelings that are at the core of the piece. By peeling back the onion of personas, we come to truths that are universal. I love that people are moved by that honesty, even though they enjoy the theatrics of the journey that get us to those feelings.
What is your favorite moment in the show?
Migguel Anggelo: There are two moments in the show that I love as a performer. There is an operatic song that I sing by the Argentinian composer Carlos Guastavino called "La Rosa y Sauce" or "The Rose and the Willow." It's really beautiful.
The other moment I love is at the very end of the show when I sing a traditional, Venezuelan folk song written by Simon Diaz that I sang with my father on the farm that I grew up on. It's called "El Cabrestero." In my work, I never forget where I am from. This song is incredibly meaningful to me.
If your father were able to see the show, what would you want him to take away from the experience?
Migguel Anggelo: I would want my father to see that I am HIS son. I'm his mirror. I just love in a different way from him, and that's ok.
What advice would adult Migguel Anggelo offer to your younger self when you were discovering your queerness?
Don't be afraid of who of you are. Be the authentic YOU. That's the most important thing in the world, and when you realize and embrace that, others will too.