Los Angeles Theater Preview: A GENTLE REMINDER: MISS COCO PERU’S GUIDE TO A SOMEWHAT HAPPY LIFE (Renberg Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on May 4, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles

MAKE SOMEONE SOMEWHAT HAPPY

At the risk of repeating myself — oh, wait — I am repeating myself, but it bears repeating. I wrote about the great Coco Peru when she appeared in Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre. Now, this remarkable entertainer who seamlessly blends the modern and bygone days of Coco Gentle Reminder by Andrew Putschoegldrag entertainment returns in an all-new show: A Gentle Reminder: Miss Coco Peru’s Guide to a Somewhat Happy Life, to the Renberg Theatre May 13 & 14 and May 20 & 21, 2016.

A few years after Coco created “Miss Coco Peru in My Goddamn Cabaret,” I first saw this marvelous storyteller/monologist 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.”

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema Feature of Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian CenterSince then, it’s clear that Coco Peru has come into her own. And  For those who don’t know, her shows (written and performed by Clinton Leupp) are a refreshing synthesis of the hysterical and the poignant. 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 21st 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?).

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema feature on Coco Peru's SHE"S GOT BALLSEver since becoming a phenomenon on YouTube, Miss Coco Peru has been inundated with emails from people of all ages asking her the same question: “Coco, what is the secret to a happy life?” Being the giver that she is, she created this new show to share a step-by-step guide that will leave you prepared to enter the world again ready to create your very own “somewhat” happy life. “Why just a ‘somewhat’ happy life?” she writes. “Well, let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to be happy all the time because ‘happy’ people make such a racket!” You only have four performances to discover why she always 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).

What astounds me is that in the 22 years that I have watched Coco, the bitch diva 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.”

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Net proceeds benefit the Center.

Gentle Reminder photo by Andrew Putschoegl
She’s Got Balls photo by Jose A Guzman Colon

A Gentle Reminder: Miss Coco Peru’s Guide to a Somewhat Happy Life
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 May 13 – 21, 2016
for tickets call 323.860.7300 or visit Gay Center Theatre

for info on upcoming shows, visit Miss Coco

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