Arts Watch: Carmelita Tropicana & PS 122 Head Uptown to El Museo Del Barrio

Carmelita Tropicana, aka Alina Troyano, has made me laugh, and think, for years. When I first heard the name back in the nineties I was imagining an over-the-top Carmen Miranda type character from an old Hollywood musical, complete with a tutti fruiti hat, colorful bangles, and a song in her heart. That is exactly what I got—in a ‘downtown’ kind of way. Instead of sambas and dance numbers, this wonderful character was spewing out colorful and extremely witty narratives in an irreverent, send-up style that tore apart any notions of the stereotypical Latina. In Tropicana’s world, humor and fantasy became subversive tools to rewrite history.