Friday, November 28, 2008

Pedro Lemebel in Havana--(just two years ago).

1. Saint Homo at Home in Hetero America. A whole cloth, with full sail: Bridal veil, shawl and scarf.
Whole milk and the whole voice. Full color: From head-to-toe turban and a pair of orange booties (Clock Work Orange gay).
Pedro Lemebel revisits Havana in late November 2006: Author of the Week at 3rd and “G” Street. (The patio of My House is nothing special).
Really promising. And the hosts know it. Hence their giggles become apparent before a one (wo)man show called Pedro Lemebel. Hence they punctually grab their spots in the front row, just in case.
The show must go homo.

2. Lord, I implore you to take my nine-year-old son, bored in front of the National TV program, to see the Magician Lemebel.
Because it was just that--waiting for a magic act. It breathed a tolerant atmosphere of sleight of hand. An especially solemn and brief reaction announced by the local media; (not loquacious, but half-assed this time):
“Lemebel Comes Home. A leftist Chilean writer. Personal friend of Gladys Marin”.*
Then I grab my son by the collar and as a gesture of resignation say:
“Let’s go”.
And we went--to a house that didn’t exist prior to the magic-maker “Potter” Lemebel.

3. In Cuba, in order to not introduce some variety, there had not been anything published by this leftist Chilean writer even though he was a personal friend of Gladys Marin: Too eccentric, outlandish, and outrageous (queer queen).
A decade ago, Pedro Lemebel had been deployed to Havana for his outlandish performance, The Mares of the Apocalypse. He apparently came without displaying any vice and left. Without penises or glories.
Now, however, the thing at the House promised to be hot. Hence the interest of old and young, including my son who barely knows how to read. Perhaps it was precisely because of that. Learn to read Lemebel.
It would be of tremendous benefit to get out of the closet that decaying Scrabble board that paralyzes us in a “straight” way. An all-inclusive methodology of “Pret-à-porter” (Harry Potter). home delivery. “Get your Lemebel at Home” during the whole Week of the Author--in fact, truncated into four evenings in November 2006.

4. Lower the curtain and the curtain rises, and there appears Pedro Lemebel with a type of screening light passing through the House and a ketch Chilean ballad. This is the perfect environment to now disclaim a civil poem. A Manifesto by its difference, written 20 years ago and read democratically under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in Santiago de Chile in September 1986.
It is a pamphlet of oedipal conversational verses: Howlings of Lobomel (Wolfbel) or, better yet, the cawing of a Lemebird swan. It is a drivel upside down where the myth of Cuba is as a global utopian social paradise of the Left.
Pedro Lemebel saaaaays:
"Imp not Pasolini asking for explanations. I’m not Ginsberg expelled from Cuba.
So then what? What will they do with us, comrades? Will they tie us in bundles of braids for a destiny to a Cuban AIDS quarantine asylum?
Will the future be black and white?
Will time be labored night and day without ambiguities?
Will there be a queer in one corner unbalancing the future of his new man?
Don’t you think that something would happen between us, being all alone in the Sierra? Although later I would hate it for corrupting the revolutionary morale.
My manhood was not received well by the Party because they rejected me with giggles many times.
My manhood waits patiently for the macho men to grow old because at this stage of the game, the Left drags its limp ass in Parliament.
There are so many children that are going to be born with a broken wing, and I want them to fly, comrade, so that their Revolution gives them a piece of red heaven so that they can fly”.
Closed ovation. Unanimous applauses. Wholesale hurrahs. Sphincters of all nations, open up!

5. The curtain goes up and the curtain goes down, and Pedro Lemebel disappears. In his place, behind the microphone, there emerges a flora and fauna of lecturers from the courtyard, and university scholars have arrived from the U.S.
Of course from time to time there is also talk of literature. But most of the time, of course (time is money), each of them spoke of their wits as privileged readers of Lemebel: Everyone has already read all of him, which shows how unnecessary it was beforehand to publish him here.
It chronicles the chronic Lemebel colic. One admires its Lemgay militancy. They move their uprooted politicians live before the Chilean television cameras; (Cuban television films everything off-the-record, but if a space later appears, that’s where the credit to be deferred to Lemebel is edited in). And they capture the ironies about the savoire-faire among men and the insular tropical autumn nights not very far from the domesticated house at 3rd & “G(ay)” Street.
The hosts showed their excellence as if amphibians, never losing the Andalusian giggle accomplice point from their punctual spots in the front row, while applying the urban guerilla tactic of laissez-faire. But my nine-year-old son became equally bored very soon and wanted to get out of there.
“Dad, I implore you again: Take me to see The Wizard of Oz at Cubavision”.

6. Old-time cabaret lyrics; narrative boleros; rancheras and revolutionary slogans. All shouted in sotto voce away in no time from a little clandestine radio to the tune of the “la lala” of Pedro “The Tender Bullfighter”** Lemebel.
The character in The Drag Queen of the Front (by Patriótico Manuel Rodriguez)*** is his Pedro anonymous in this short novel. The date and location of the plot takes place incisively in Santiago (Chile) in September 1986. Only now it’s not a poem concerned with civil disobedience, but the plot to assassinate General Augusto Pinochet (along with essential collateral damage that would include the presidential Mercedes limousine) with a clean bazooka shot.
In a country whose president has survived more than 600 assassination attempts, I'm afraid in the end, Bullfighter results in a naive realism. The most interesting aspect of the book is perhaps its somewhat interlinear notion of a phallus revolution. A certain innocence of the sixties is now passé. In this sense it’s an out-of-date story, a fossil remix of American toilet stall paleohistory. A script that could easily dramatize any 2:00 PM state radio soap opera broadcast.
One thing that is certain by reason or force is that old fox Roberto Bolaño**** hit the nail on the head in terms of, To publish or not to publish: That is the “gaystion”.

7. - My boy - Lemebel told my son upon granting him an autograph that he would be back next year and that we will now be a legion--that the car has to be pushed a little in order to advance. Sentenced theatrically, he winked an eye at me.
It’s a couple of years later and that parliamentary comment is incomprehensible to me even less. There was no use in asking him what he meant by that. The e-mail address that he jotted down on my copy of My Tender Bullfighter ( has only resulted in passive and evasive greetings.
Apparently the young bull in Lemebel likes to reserve his sharper letters for the hour of the final thrust.

8. Pedroly Lemebel, with his bi-casual attire and hi-tech narrator homosentimenstrual tics.
Bitchy Lemebel, casting a spell on the vampiresque family of Cuban scholars hungry for their heinous post-HIV Lemebelite blood—miracle of the 20th sicktury.
In the end, evil.
Lemebel, P: pr(l)ck. A saucer with a strong overflowing cup of something along with some quiet time to read the Chilean Donald Dick.
The words and gestures of a transchilen@ before a full house, Even though it was scandalous, the president chose not to scandalize it. All would thus be well within the canon of the twenty-first century cooltural locale (of drag queens) along with the correct dose of low-profile, plus a more diplomatic image of tolerance towards the Left International, Ltd.

9. Quoteth the condor: Nevermebel.

10. To the comfort of the great and small, this review of Lemebel is finally over with. A Clockwork Orange can cause a whole orange revolution, at least in my tropical Ukrainian cranium.
To see it live was almost a prediction of the impending bed death (and not a clean bazooka shot) of General Augusto Pinochet.
Well, therefore: Let it mebel.

Orlando Luis Pardo

Translator's notes

*Gladys del Carmen Marín Millie (July 16, 1941 – March 6, 2005) was a Chilean activist and political figure. She was Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) (1994-2002) and then president of the PCCh until her death. She was a staunch opponent of General Augusto Pinochet and filed the first lawsuit against him, in which she accused him of committing human rights violations during his seventeen-year dictatorship.

**The Tender Bullfighter is the literary English translation for Pedro Lemebel’s novel, Tengo Miedo Torero.

***Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (FPMR) was the armed wing of the Chilean Communist Party in the 1980s named for the hero of Chile’s war of independence against Spain.

****Roberto Bolaño Ávalos (April 28, 1953 — July 15, 2003) was a Chilean novelist and poet. In 1999 he won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize for his novel Los Detectives Salvajes (The Savage Detectives).

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