Last week's post should have been preceded by an advisory, my buddy M told me, for those like him who get queasy after seeing a bloody decapitated head rolling on top of a plastic barrel. I agreed. Does it feel like it's been more Gory Miento than Movie Miento?
There was the recent post about the with the grisly video. Before that there was the post about the killing and mutilation of Ciudad Juarez poet Susana Chavez, and not long before that the sit down with Charles Bowden about his very downer book "Murder City" about drug cartels murder. At the office I just got Bowden's latest, "The Sicario: A Juarez Hit Man Speaks." Ay. La gota de sangre que derramo el vaso. The straw the broke the camel's back.
Wait, this column is about all things Latino... There's a press release somewhere in my 1116-email inbox about a Latina actress in a new independent film. Let's see, search "Puerto Rican." There it is. Argh!
"Actress KARINA COLON is One Sexy Assassin in "VATOS LOCOS""
That's the first line in the press release. I can't get away from it. The bloodshed keeps pulling me back. Well, at least it's pretend killing. Let's take a look at her web site. Wow, she was a New York model. And now, her web page said, she's taking on Tinseltown:
I'm a native New Yorker and honorary Angeleno. Successfully, I have made the switch from pizzas and back-ups on the trains to tacos and back-ups on the 5.
I've done many small independent films in NYC as well as off-off Broadway plays (my most memorable experience being having to play Bin Laden in a comedy sketch last minute). I came to LA and expanded my artistic horizons into writing and producing.
Dang, the last bit of "Hollywood" writing I'd done was at least 15 years ago when I freelanced an article to the Chicago Tribune about the Robert Rodriguez film, "Desperado." The studios put me up at the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills for the press junket. Tough, huh? Then sitting across Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek and talking about a film with lots of... blood and guts. Jeez. Hey, maybe Karina's stock is rising. Why not get in on the ground floor, so to speak.
A few publicist calls later Karina Colon and I are chatting away in the seven o'clock sunset at Border Grill in downtown L.A. The guacamole is green, the lantana in the planters is yellow and she's having a salad and water, of course, while I wash down the macho enchiladas with some Bombay Sapphire.
No, she knows nothing about the traffic from the westside. She drove in from Cypress Park. Orale, an Eastsider!
So, what was it like playing Lola Chan, a half Chinese, half Mexican assassin who rejects her Mexican side in "Vatos Locos" ?
"It was definitely a role more about ass-kicking than anything else. They had a few lines in Spanish and they gave me an Asian tattoo. Which kind of makes it interesting because it makes you wonder what made that person pick that side," she said.
She grew up straddling her father's Ecuadorean bias and her mother's strong Puerto Rican roots in New York. Her father was always putting down Puerto Ricans, she said. His patriarchal shadow pushed her into pre-med at NYU for one year, then after a transfer to the much less prestigious Hunter College. She dropped the pre-med. And took up modeling after graduating, she said.
Karina is slender. She has enough muscle - I see as she sits at the table and takes off her leather jacket - to convincingly play an assassin for a straight-to video movie. Check out her action reel. She's got the, girl-gets-back-up-after-getting-wupped-and-whacks-the-guy down good.
"The Maybelline Girls," the latest project she created herself, came out of down time on one of these action films. Think of the Odd Couple, lipstick, screams, and getting mixed up with the mob. It's far from Scorcese but she says it's an accomplishment after just a few years in L.A.
"Three years ago, my sister told me, 'You gotta go to L.A.!' I didn't know anybody but I had friends who were coming here. I'd tell them, 'You're never going to make it, they're going to eat you alive,'" Colon said.
Hollywood's had its share of Latinas make it over the decades: Lupe Velez, Rita Hayworth, and Raquel Welch. I ask Karina which if any she admires admires?
"Jennifer Lopez, I remember when she came out I remember being one of her haters. I wasn't even into acting. Oh, she sucks, she can't act. Then as I got older I realized it was jealousy. What I admire is her ambition," Karina Colon said.
Karina's got plenty of ambition herself. She said she had her Hollywood timeline when she got here but no she leaves reaching her goals as an open-ended proposition. Living the dream isn't quite paying the bills so you may run into Karina working at a bar or restaurant.
As we parted ways I told her about the Charles Bowden book about the hit man. And she told me to be on the lookout for her new project, a suspense drama series for which she's tapping into her love of mysticism: some of the main characters are members of a family of Argentinian crypto-Nazis.