by Tony Frankel on February 5, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles


I first saw Coco Peru perform in a B movie sendup – a campy romp called Blood Orgy of the Carnival Queens! But at New York’s Off-Off-Broadway Hamlet Theatre in 1994, the actress playing Kitty Valise, Student Nurse was simply Miss Coco. Later that week, I saw Coco in a play reading of Eighty Eight’s starring Cyndi Lauper and Charles Busch, but this time the program noted Clinton Leupp as a character named Miss Coco. Both of these projects were directed by Jim Fall, who would go on to cast Coco in the phenomenally successful gay-themed indie, Trick. In the credits, Coco Peru was credited with playing a malicious drag queen named Miss Coco Peru, and the scene where she corners a cute little gay boy in a bathroom has become legendary (“Did you ever get cum in your eye, Gabriel? It burrrrrrns”).

Since then, it’s clear that Coco Peru has come into her own. And Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls, which opens this week, marks Coco’s seventh show at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre. For those who don’t know, her shows (written and performed by Clinton Leupp) are a refreshing synthesis of the hysterical and the Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema Feature of Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Centerpoignant. Her monologues ridicule the prevailing fads of our time and the musical intermezzos are often comprised of show tunes that she belts out with ridiculing mimicry of a Broadway Baby. But there’s more. Coco is one of our nation’s only “Drag Queen as Raconteur,” telling stories which are spiced with vital morsels of wisdom that could only come from a challenging but rewarding life for this Bronx native. This style of performer has all but gone the way of Charles Pierce, yet Coco has taken this art form into the twenty-first century. She gets away with saying what we are all thinking because she is all things to us: a gossipy sister, an understanding mom, a rebellious daughter and a father who will kick the shit out of anyone who threatens his baby (I haven’t heard of Coco getting into a bar fight, but it’s safe to assume that riling any drag queen is dangerous to your health – need I mention Stonewall?).

In her new show, Coco reflects on her early childhood dreams of being a stripper, her crush on the Creature from the Black Lagoon, her love/hate relationship with Facebook, why she left her beloved hometown of New York City, and her summers Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema Feature of Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Centerspent on a nude beach with her husband, Rafael (he’s from Spain). Inspired by her mother Helen’s advice to have the balls to say whatever the hell she feels like saying, Coco is on a quest to do just that and, in the process, make the world just a little more beautiful. You will discover why she draws a sold-out crowd wherever she goes (the rumor has it that her appearance at a Nudist camp in Malibu was Standing Room Only). Indeed, some of her upcoming shows at the Renberg are already waitlisted.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema feature on Coco Peru's SHE"S GOT BALLSWhat astounds me is that in the nearly 20 years that I have watched Coco, the bitch entertainer extraordinaire simply refuses to age. Perhaps it’s the tonic of owning who she is that fights off the crinkles and creases which plague the worried and troubled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next step in her career is the manufacturing of Coco Cream. I can see the commercial now: “Did you ever get Coco Cream in your eye, Gabriel? It doesn’t burrrrrrrn.”

Net proceeds benefit the Center.

photos for She’s Got Balls by Jose A Guzman Colon

Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls
presented by Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre
at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza in Hollywood
plays Feb. 7 – 10, 2013
for tickets call 323-860-7300 or visit http://www.lagaycenter.org/theatre

for info on upcoming shows, visit http://misscoco.com/index/

{ 1 comment }

Jane Thalken February 11, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of Coco before. This site isn’t just a pleasure to read; I get both a preview of the show and an insider’s liner notes. Most previews don’t cover the stuff I really want to know, so I’ve come not to expect it. Then I come here and get spoiled rotten.

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