Sometimes, the A & C trains aren’t running for the third consecutive weekend, your landlord wants to raise your rent $300 a month, and the longest winter of all time makes you feel like New York actually sucks. Other times, you wind up at a boricua drag ball on a Monday night where you dance to Shayne HBA with America Ferrera til 3am, and you remember why you live here. Last night’s celebration of Mala Mala, a documentary film that highlights Puerto Rico’s genderqueer and trans communities, was one of those nights.
It’s always gratifying to see a crowd funding project you support succeed. Two years ago, we highlighted Mala Mala‘s Kickstarter campaign, which was trying to raise money for post-production; last night, it got its Tribeca Film Festival debut (and a Remezcla shout out in the credits!). To celebrate, directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles joined Mala Mala‘s protagonists and a packed room of beautiful people at The Westway for a drag ball after party.
Despite receiving a high dose of side-eye from The Westway’s bouncer for my outfit — which I lamely tried to pass off as some kind of conceptual #normcore instead of “I have no clean laundry and it’s Monday” — I managed to finagle my way in and to the front lines of the catwalk.
To my surprise, I found myself directly opposite America Ferrera, who was LOVING the show and managing to fly pretty under the radar — either because no one else noticed her, or because the realness getting served by performers Queen Bee, Rochelle Mon Cheri, Zahara, and April Carrion was so enthralling that no one cared. That is, until Zahara found herself inadvertently holding a mic directly into America’s face during some audience banter, at which point she freaked out, yelled “ARE YOU AMERICA FERRERA FROM UGLY BETTY??!!,” and proceeded to ask every photographer in the room to take a picture of them together. Film Editor Vanessa Erazo and I felt pretty great about the whole thing, and America did too:
— America Ferrera (@AmericaFerrera) April 22, 2014bu
Overall, the mood was drunk and raunchy. “My English is no very good, but I know how to fuck,” Zahara joked in a heavy accent at one point, later asking the audience if she sounded like Sofia Vergara.
But there were moments of sincerity too, as the performers thanked the crowd for supporting a film that depicts the struggles, ambitions and activism of the trans community in Puerto Rico, a group that is often marginalized and misunderstood. We’ll be publishing a full review of the film later this week, but in the meantime, check out more pictures of the night’s events below. Not pictured: my run-in with Robin Wright just as I was leaving. I can only imagine what would have ensued if Zahara had spotted her in the crowd…
Read our review of the documentary, Mala Mala.
Mala Mala is playing at the IFC Center in NYC through July 14, 2015.