‘Latinologues’: A Meeting of Culture, Personal Identities


Responding to the scarcity of Latino voices in popular entertainment media, writer-director Rick Najera created “Latinologues” at Glaxa Studios, showcasing the diverse personalities and inner lives of nine people who happen to share a cultural heritage.

Najera proves a skillful, perceptive writer as well as an engaging performer (he appears in the prologue as the Mexican Moses, raised by Anglo Republicans and called by God to lead a post-Prop. 187 exodus).

The isolation implicit in the monologue form figures as a central theme in Najera’s frequently amusing portraits. The scenes are sometimes hampered by formulaic plug-in-the-cultural-artifact jokes, but at their best, they transcend glib one-liners.


Rudy Moreno tops the evening with his crude border patrol officer who subversively switches his suspect criteria from poor Latinos to affluent whites. Monica Torres strikes a poignant note as a Cuban streetwalker so desperate to escape into her romantic fantasies she drops her price to nothing. Gilbert Esquivel as a tagger-turned-movie-extra justifies his show-biz qualifications with his early start--he was an extra at home.

The monologues are dominated as much by the Hollywood-fostered obsession with image as by Latino culture--the two make for a fascinating hybrid of alienation. Most significantly, in peering beneath Latino stereotypes, Najera never settles for facile half-truths promoting a common “Latino experience.” Instead, these characters each confront the uncertainties of personal identity as we all must--alone.

* “Latinologues,” Glaxa Studios, 3707 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Indefinitely. $10. (213) 243-9065. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.