One-man show brings two identities together
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 14:10
Most people are not comfortable with presenting their entire life journey through story, song, and dance onstage in front of dozens of other people. This was not the case for Dan Guerrero, who brought his one-man show Gaytino to NDSU’s Festival Hall on Oct. 10.
Guerrero, a former Broadway talent agent, wrote Gaytino several years ago to summarize his life and how he bridged his two identities: Mexican-American and gay.
Born in Tucson and raised in East Los Angeles, Guerrero always knew he was different. He was Chicano (Mexican-American), and from an early age questioned his sexuality. His best friend was Carlos, the only other student of Mexican descent in his school. The two had many common interests, most notably theatre. A field trip in junior high to Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre sparked Guerrero’s dream: to sing and dance onstage.
Over the years, Guerrero followed his dream wherever it took him. He and Carlos went to New York in 1962 and found work until Carlos left, leaving Guerrero friendless. He soon found himself confronting his sexuality again, a subject he had kept hidden from his parents growing up.
As a teenager, Guerrero looked at himself in the mirror and said, “I’m queer,” and that helped him begin accepting who he was. Once in New York, he was free to search for a life away from the shadow of his father, Lalo Guerrero, the king of Chicano music.
While in New York, Guerrero discovered many things. He was not cut out for dancing onstage, so he became a “moving singer,” and took his last bow in 1973. By the mid-‘70s, Guerrero was a Broadway talent agent, managing such names as Kelly Bishop (“Gilmore Girls”), Fran Drescher (“The Nanny”), and a young Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex and the City”).
It was also around this time that Guerrero’s parents learned of his sexuality. His father found out the truth from asking his friend Carlos, and eventually his mother (who had adopted “don’t-ask-don’t-tell”) was told. Comfortable with his sexuality and fairly settled in his career, Guerrero, now in his late thirties, found love with Richard, the man who would share his life.
Throughout the next twenty years, Guerrero’s life had many ups and downs. He returned to LA in 1982 to manage other acts after his last Broadway contract was up. His best friend Carlos had contracted AIDS, and later passed away from the disease, which shocked and devastated Guerrero. He has also kept up throughout the years as a successful director and producer, and was named by Hispanic magazine as one of the 25 most powerful Latinos in Hollywood.
Since 2006, Dan Guerrero has been performing the autobiographical Gaytino on stages across America. His one-man show combines storytelling with song and dance amid several slideshows to present his rollercoaster story. Having seen the best and worst of life, Guerrero had plenty of experience to share with the audience. He also gave a fair amount of colorful advice and insight: “If you’re going to have an epiphany, have it in Paris,” “Don’t mess with a Puerto Rican drag queen,” and perhaps the most meaningful of all, “You really learn about yourself when you’re flying solo.”