SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The transformation begins as night time falls on this semi-desert esplanade on the outskirts of Chile’s capital, with Arturo, Alejandro and René making use of make-up and donning wigs, feathers and sequins to grow to be “Verónica Energy,” “Alexandra” and “The Loopy Purse Lady.”
The characters are classics of the Timoteo Circus, a present that has fought prejudice and discrimination in opposition to Chile’s LGBTQ neighborhood for greater than a half century, even by means of a army dictatorship, in a rustic identified for its religious Catholicism.
“Alexandra” – performed by 65-year-old Alejandro Pavés – recalled life for the performers underneath the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, which ruled the South American nation from 1973 to 1990.
“It was horrible to work underneath the dictatorship … there was numerous hatred for gays in Chile at the moment,” Pavés advised The Related Press, recalling the variety of occasions he had been arrested, insulted and mistreated.
“The police would arrive and take us prisoner and in the event that they discovered you dressed as a lady they’d provide you with a sodomy” cost, which might mark you for the remainder of your life, Pavés mentioned. “The house owners needed to cover us.”
Though it’s known as a circus, it’s extra of a sexual variety present with humor, tune and dance underneath a giant prime, and has 30 workers. At its peaks it had as much as 70. The Timoteo Circus is likely one of the finest identified of Chile’s 120 circuses.
“All Chileans know Circo Timoteo, it’s like an establishment,” mentioned Stéfano Rubio, a conductor and administrative supervisor of the circus.
The present started in 1968 when one of many circus’ feminine dancers was absent for a efficiency. Its founder, René Valdés, had one of many male performers costume as a lady and exchange her on stage. The efficiency was so standard the dancer did 5 curtain calls to obtain applause. The transformation circus was born and has been dedicated to sexual variety ever since.
Arturo Peña, who performs “The Loopy Purse Woman,” mentioned that in the course of the dictatorship the performers used to obtain kicks and blows for his or her look, and the concept of carrying a handbag in her act was to make use of in self-defense.
Pavés, who comes from a household with a powerful army and non secular custom, hid his sexual identification from his household till a tv program revealed what he did.
His household finally accepted him however he says there all the time was the “disgrace of getting a homosexual son, uncle or cousin.”
Now, he can’t see himself having some other job than the Timoteo Circus, and that when he dies he desires his funeral to be held underneath the circus’ huge prime.
“At the moment I work with extra safety, they settle for me extra” and the general public understands the message higher, he mentioned.