Canto infantil: Emugging with Ms. Vaginal Davis on ¡Cholita¡ The Female Menudo

Ms. Vaginal Davis and Rose Salseda



Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 2:02 PM

Dear Dr. Davis,

My name is Rose Salseda and I'm a PhD Candidate in Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. I focus on contemporary American art, specializing in art by African Americans and Mexican Americans. I'm interested in learning more about the performance group ¡Cholita¡ The Female Menudo and your work during the early 90s in general. I spoke with fellow collaborator Alice Bag about ¡Cholita¡ a couple of years ago. I'm embarrassed it's taken me so long to contact you and I hope we can connect and talk about ¡Cholita¡ either via phone or email.

Please let me know if you're available. Thank you.




Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 4:24 AM

Dear Dr. Salseda,

Thank you so much for your interest in ¡Cholita! The Female Menudo. I have a lot of warm memories from performing as Graciela and from all the fun collaborating with Alicia (Sad Girl) and Gregorio (Lupita).

Yes, it would be nice to have an emug exchange as I have been based in Berlin, Germany for the past ten years. Feel free to send me any questions that I can ponder over and answer at leisure. 

All the best,

Ms. Vaginal Davis


Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Dear Ms. Davis,

Thank you for your reply and thanks in advance for answering my questions. I'm a fan of your work and have always lamented the fact that I have never had the chance to see you perform, especially before you left the States for Berlin. I'm a native Angeleno; I grew up in South Central. I keep hoping that I can catch you next time you're in LA, but I seem to always miss my chance.

Attached are my questions about ¡Cholita¡ (and a couple about Afro Sisters). I've also pasted the questions below in case that's easier for you to peruse.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope it's not too overwhelming. I look forward to hearing back from you!




1.      Before you formed ¡Cholita¡ the Female Menudo, you performed with Fertile LaToyah Jackson and others as the Afro-Sisters. When did the Afro Sisters first form? What was the general concept behind the group?

2.      The members of Afro Sisters included Fertile and Alice Bag—and I love Alice’s story of how she came to be included in the group. According to her, Fertile was her teaching assistant at an elementary school where she taught. After partying together at a faculty get-together hosted at their principal’s house, they both left, a bit tipsy, to a venue where Fertile was slated to perform with you. When they arrived, Alice says that you talked her into going on stage, putting her in a wig and christening her “Pussi Washington.” Was the participation of other members as improvised and serendipitous as Alice’s? How does such improvisation characterize Afro Sisters?

3.      You, Fertile and Alice then went on to form ¡Cholita¡ the Female Menudo. For this band, the three of you adopted Latina teen personas that satirized conventional ideas of gender, race and ethnicity and challenged stereotypes of Latinas through pop and punk music. What was the impetus behind the formation of ¡Cholita¡? Why was it important for the group to perform as Latina teens?

4.      At first, ¡Cholita¡ performed acapella or with taped music, similar to Afro Sisters. Then, the three of you began to write music together. In general, you mostly sang and Fertile and Alice played bass and guitar, respectively, and contributed their vocal talents as well. All three of you wrote lyrics. What spurred the desire to write original music as a group?

5.      I find many of the song lyrics of ¡Cholita¡ funny and empowering! From the giggle-accented pop song devoted to the “butts that go boom!” in “Nalga Maniaca” to the punk anthem critical of white supremacy in “Chinga tu madre,” ¡Cholita¡ wrote songs that uncompromisingly expressed their sexuality and self-agency. Remembering that this group performed as young Latina teens, the songs, to me, seem to present an even greater politics and possibility for intervention. What was your hope for the group, your music, and your performances? What was ¡Cholita¡ reacting against or trying to accomplish?

6.      On YouTube, one can find a ¡Cholita¡ music video in which the band lip-syncs to “¡No controles!” by Flans, a Mexican all-girl pop group from the 1980s. The song’s rebellious lyrics demand autonomy and self-expression with a hint of teenage angst through a catchy chorus and dancey synthesizer sounds. I can see why ¡Cholita¡ would want to perform this song! What encouraged you to make a music video, though? Who was the intended audience? And, was there any significance to the MacArthur Park location besides the fact that you lived nearby and Alice and Fertile taught a few blocks away?

7.      What I also find interesting is that in Flan’s music video for “¡No controles!” the members dress in men’s clothing to display their self-agency. Yet, ¡Cholita¡ adopts an aesthetic that overly emphasizes feminine fashion, albeit versions of girl-wear that seem to satirize notions of glamour through haphazardly applied make-up, ratty wigs, etc. Was this ultra-feminized, over-the-top, DIY fashion of ¡Cholita¡ an intentional criticism of mainstream beauty conventions or traditional drag? I also understand that Rick Castro sometimes styled ¡Cholita¡ and that ¡Cholita¡ went through several fashion transformations from a 80s Madonna aesthetic to a Japanese schoolgirl look and even to a banda style. Could you talk about the look of ¡Cholita¡ and the band’s fashion evolution?

8.       In some live performances and songs from the album Chorro de Exitos, your persona, Graciela Grejalva, seems to slip in and out of a Spanish accent. Am I just imagining the accent? How would Graciela identify ethnically and racially? What is Graciela’s origin story and how did she become the lead singer of ¡Cholita¡?

9.      ¡Cholita¡ envisioned itself as an international pop powerhouse. They graced the covers of Sassy, Jet, Italian Vogue, and Vanidades and fought frenzied mobs of fans. But once the members grew too old to be members of ¡Cholita¡, a band that like Menudo had to forever stay fresh-faced and crush-worthy, what did they go on to? Where do you imagine Graciela, now, as well as the rest of founding members of ¡Cholita¡?


Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 2:38 AM

Dear Dr. Salseda,

I am at the American Bibliotech (Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek) this lovely summer morning working on some research for my upcoming project that will premiere in New York in the fall, which is an insane version of Mozart's The Magic Flute where I replace the libretto with one of my own concoctions that infuses texts by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Kathy Acker, Julien Offray de La Mettrie, and Eldridge Cleaver. I am off this week for an art congress in Lisbon on the African Diaspora and Afro Futurism, but I thought I would start answering some of your questions now and then finish when I get back to Berlin on July 8th.

The Afro Sisters was first formed in the late 1970s, maybe around 1978 when I was still in high school. We went under the name the Maxi Pads at that time. Fertile La Toyah Jackson and I have been friends since we met at Berendo Junior High School in the Mid City area of LA, near the historic Pico Union. Under the name of the Maxi Pads, Fertile and I would do spoken word rants bitching about all things we found offensive politically, sexually—you name it. We were full of ourselves and full of opinions. Fertile and I would use the low tech method of creating a soundscape from various record album instrumentals to go with our rants and we would make cassette tapes of the rants to give out to friends. Fertile, whose real name is Gregorio Estefano Hernandez, is originally from El Salvador and he had a friend who lived in East LA named Julia Julia. We would go out with her to punk rock shows and also to the disco clubs of East LA, like La Casa and Bandstand at 1st and Soto, and East LA party crews, such as La Pegasus and Elecktra. Julia was part of a crew called the Pink Ladies. At one particular club in East LA, we were in the parking lot drinking Olde English from a straw and getting our buzz on. Walking past our car were three Blatino girls with big Afros and Julia yelled out at them, "Hey it’s the Afro Sisters!" So, from that moment I changed our name from the Maxi Pads to the Afro Sisters. The Afro Sisters started off just making tapes, not performing live. It was just me and Fertile. 


The ultimate Goddess 13 earth mother Fertile LaToyah Jackson Early 1980s photo by Beulah Love



While still in high school, I led a double life. I was the editor of my high school newspaper, but I was also writing for the LA Weekly. I wrote for the LA Weekly using my legal name and also the alias of Kayle Hilliard. I also wrote for the Weekly's competition, The LA Reader, under the name Denning Taylor. I was the youngest of the LA Weekly's writers at that time. I also had my own zine called Crude, which later became Fertile LaToyah Jackson and spearheaded the Queer Zine Movement, and I also wrote for a small music magazine called TwisT and became its Features editor. TwisT was a magazine devoted to the burgeoning mod/post-punk scene. It was very unusual at the time to be so young and make money from writing. 

I felt very fortunate that at a young age (2nd grade) a teacher noticed that I wasn't completely retarded as my reading and comprehension skills were way above average. She had me tested and I was put in a program called MGM, or Mentally Gifted Minors, that the LA Unified School District had at that time. If it hadn’t been for the MGM program, I would have wounded up dead or in jail, like most of the kids I grew up with in the inner city. The program saved my life and led to me becoming an internationally recognized artist. 

Of course, at the time, I didn't know that what I was doing was performance art or art at all. I was just doing things organically and expressing myself in the manner that felt right. I never even considered myself punk rock back then. My older cousin Karla Duplantier, who was the lesbian drummer for the early punk band the Controllers, had introduced me to punk. I was an opera queen and, after opera, I loved Tin Pan Alley standards and songs from musicals made during the Golden Age of Hollywood. I wasn't even that interested in pop music.

I was writing original songs that I considered “showcore,” or hardcore show tune music, but because of my lack of musical ability these songs sounded punky and I got thrown in with that genre. The actual writing of songs was accidental as my spoken word rants were more like a cantata. So, from the beginning, the Afro Sisters were singing acapella chant-like ditties mixed with spoken word manifestos about the Black experience, living in the inner city, and feeling like we had no voice. Fertile, coming from war-torn El Salvador, really infused a lot of the rants with his political fervor as well. 

The Afro Sisters didn’t start performing for a live audience until the early 1980s when Harry Gamboa, who had a small art gallery/performance space at the Sunset Junction, heard one of our tapes and asked us to perform at the launch of Emigre Magazine, a spoken word magazine put out by a Dutch guy. For the first performance, I included two genetic girls that I named Urethra Franklin and Clitoris Turner. Urethra, aka Helen Bed O'Neill, owned the Melrose Avenue punk boutique Retail Slut where I did window displays and Fertile designed original clothing. Clitoris, aka Leslie Beatty, worked down the street from Retail Slut at this dead stock boutique Cowboys & Poodles, aka CowPoo.  From the very first performance we were a hit and I began to get calls asking me to perform. I never believed in trying to sell myself and, because I didn't have a sense of business, I just took gigs that felt right. Of course these were the days before careerism. What made the Afro Sisters unique was that we mixed Blaxploitation and punk rock. A lot of the too-cool punk rockers of the time didn’t like us. Our early 1970s looks were a little too weird for even the punk in-crowd. You have to remember that people were still dressing like the 1970s in the early 1980s, so we were doing retro before retro had time to kick in. Also, the looks we did were 1970s styles that were popular only in urban areas; they weren’t your typical 1970s fashions. Fertile designed most of our looks and he had a great sense of style that was very fashion-forward.


From LA Times, 1992


Afro Sisters pick of the Week from LA Weekly, 1980s

Alice joined the Afro Sisters at a time when she was sort of in hiatus from performing. She and Fertile worked at the same elementary school and I had always loved Alice as she was a pioneer of performing on stage with lots of rage and passion. I think her first time as an Afro Sister was pretty spontaneous. Alice has quite the work ethic and doesn't like to be on stage unrehearsed. Of course the mythology of my work is that it’s all from the top of my head and I just go out on stage and act crazy. But, in reality, I usually work from a loose outline. So, Alice most likely did go on stage knowing what she was getting herself into, somewhat. I don't like things to be too scripted as that removes the possibility for whimsy. With Alice in the group the singing got better as she is such a powerhouse. We also started to add music and work as a live band. Alice had a boyfriend named George Woods when she started the band the Swing Set. George and Alice would work with me and Fertile, refining the Afro Sisters songs and tightening things up a bit. The songs started to resemble more of a pop-oriented structure. Of course the songs were still very twisted and quirky, like "Wet Lesbian":

We're Lesbians, uh huh, we think lesbian
We don't need a man messing up our system
You can't do me you ain’t no superstar. . .

 "Tighten That Hole":

Don't honk, I ain't no honky
I'm a peckerwood from the dirty woods . . .

"Magnificent Product":

All we meet, walking down the street
Ten days a week without any sleep
And shackles on our feet
Black power, Black power, destroy White boy…

When I came up with the concept of Cholita it was during a period in the mid to late 1980s when I was fed up with so-called “alternative culture.” I was going through a bit of an identity crisis. I stopped going to punk and post-punk shows and only listened to the station K Love Radio Amor, or KLOVE, which played Spanish pop music. My favorites were songs like "Soy un desastre” and those by the immortal Vicki Carr and Flans.

Robert Lopez, before he was El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, was a curator at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, which was part of WACKO and the Soap Plant on Melrose Avenue. I had known Robert forever and Paul "Whitey" Glynn, the owner of CowPoo who had moved to Guatemala in the 1980s, was having a show of his Central America influenced paintings. Robert and Whitey wanted the Afro Sisters to perform at the opening, but I didn't want to do the Afro Sisters as I was getting tired of them and I felt that we needed to do something that was more Latin-flavoured. 

I had never explored my Latin roots, of having a Mexican-born father whose own father was a German-Jewish immigrant in Mexico. My father’s heritage is very similar to Frida Kahlo. My mother is a Choctaw Indian/Black Creole from Louisiana. So, influenced by K-LOVE and my background, I wrote in one sitting "I Am Not a Puta, I Am a Princess" and came up with the concept of Cholita, The Female Menudo—like the Puerto Rican boy band, but with girls between the ages of 11-15. Once you turned 16, you were kicked out of the group, but of course we never aged. As Graciela, the lead singer of the group, I was 13 1/2 years old forever. I named myself Graciela after Fertile's mother, who was like a second mother to me.

Our first show was in 1987 at La Luz de Jesus Gallery and, like the Afro Sisters, it immediately clicked with people. Being Latina teens is important as Latina teens rule the world and have such amazing sassy styles and defiance. In junior high at Berendo there was a cliqa of girls, Elva Novarra, Leticia Corral and Lisa Montelegre, who had such incredible style. They were my inspiration for Cholita. I wanted to be as powerful as they were in junior high, the queens of the school.

So, Cholita first started as a concept, but then kept developing when Alice and Fertile wanted to take the songwriting more seriously and become a real band. At first, Fertile didn't know how to play an instrument, but Alice taught him how to play bass. He got so good at one point that when the bass player of the British indie band Elastica left the group, they asked Fertile to join them for a tour with Beck. They didn't even know that Fertile wasn't a biological woman. Alice even taught me to play the keyboard, which was probably one of the hardest things I ever did. But I was so glad Alice pushed me in that direction. No one says “no” to Alicia.

Ok I will stop here and let you ponder this before I continue with more.


Ms. Davis

aka Scrampa


Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Dear Ms. Davis,

Thank you so much for your generous reply. I've read through it several times over the course of the week. It's so exciting to learn about Afro Sisters and ¡Cholita!.

I've lectured about ¡Cholita! a couple of times at my university. The first time was for a graduate seminar organized by Dr. Deborah Paredez called, "Divas: Performance, Race, Sexuality and Gender." I presented ¡Cholita!—YouTube clips, photographs, and music—to doctoral students in Theater, Art History, American Studies, and English. One of these students said that the music made her feel empowered as a person of color. They really appreciated the way ¡Cholita! dealt with racism and stereotype through queerness, humor, music, and stage banter. I also presented ¡Cholita!, as well as your zines, to undergrads in a course I wrote with Dr. Cherise Smith called "Black Art, Brown Art: Contemporary African American and Mexican American Art." I spoke about your work in a section dedicated to Chican@ art and punk rock. In addition to your work, I talked about that of Diane Gamboa and Shizu Saldamando, and we watched a film by Jim Mendiola called Pretty Vacant, which is about a Chicana from San Antonio who uncovers how Tex-Mex music influenced the Sex Pistols. I also showed Shizu's drawings of the San Anto punk band Girl in a Coma. Mendiola made a music video for them that incorporates a sort of cut-and-paste aesthetic that allowed me to bring the students back to your zines. How wonderful it would be to add Afro Sisters to future lectures, especially how show-tunes influenced the songs. I also now understand that I need to correct future ¡Cholita! lectures by discussing the influences of K-LOVE and Vicki Carr (I've made sure to include the Flans connection when I show your music video, though).

I first came to know of your work when I was a teenager via Le Tigre. When I was an undergrad at CSU Fullerton, in a contemporary art theory course, I read an essay by Jennifer Doyle about your performances at Bricktops. When obsessing over videos of you on the internet many years ago, I found one where you identify as Blatina. Then I read Jose Munoz's book, which mentioned your Mexican American heritage. As I've discussed your work over the years or talked about you with friends, many of them are surprised that you're Latina. I guess I was, too, when I first learned. I've been interested in the intersections of African American and Mexican American history since an undergrad. It became a topic of study for me as I began to really reflect on growing up in South Central, a place that had historically been Black but had, especially during the 80s, begun to experience an influx of brown people.

What was it like for you to grow up Blatina in LA? If scholars are to mention your identity, do you prefer that they recognize your Mexican roots as well as your Black ancestry?

I can't believe that ¡Cholita! got their start at La Luz de Jesus in WACKO! That store is pretty amazing. What other venues did ¡Cholita! perform at besides WACKO and Troy Cafe? Alice told me about a San Diego gig that, unbeknownst to you all, was a "family" event. Do you remember this?

How was the Afro-Futurist conference in Lisbon? How are you influenced by Afro-Futurism? In the Black Art, Brown Art course, we lectured on Afro-Futurism in music, film and art. Last year, I became consumed by Octavia Butler's novels and read them all, one after the other. People really love Kindred and I do, too, but I continuously find myself thinking about the Parable series. I think this is due to the sheer number of people of color in the book and the religious aspect. Firstly, I had never read a book with so many POC—and there are even Afro-Latino characters! I'm not religious, but some of the passages written and discussed by the main character, like the phrase, "God is change," registers with me in a way. I wish Clay's Ark would be made into a film. Her other book, Fledgling, really made me uncomfortable.

I hope we can continue our conversation and you'll share more history about ¡Cholita!. Thank you, again.




Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 2:54 AM

Dear Dr. Rose,

Back from a spirited time in Lisbon at the Are You For Real? art/film/music congress. My first time in Lisbon, which is a beautiful city. I was so shocked that I got such a big audience to hear my performative lecture, “Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo-Black Screen Images and the (E)motive Notion of Freakiness.”

In terms of Afro Futurism, I am glad you mentioned Octavia Butler. When I teach at colleges, art schools and universities her Lilith's Brood is part of my syllabus. Her books are so cinematic. It’s a shame none have been made into films. They would be so much better than the crap that Hollywood is producing these days with its cartoon-like CGI output of dullard movies.

As you know, LA is a city where lots of the residents have bi-racial identities. There has been lots of Black/Latino mixing since before the days of the pachucos. 


Cholita flyer 1990s drawing by Michele "Mmeesh" Mills grafiti logo by Vaginal Davis


Afro Sisters backdrop designed and painted by Fertile LaToyah Jackson

Getting back to Cholita. One of the songs that emerged from Cholita, which I am most proud of, is the song I initially wrote the lyrics and music for, "Essays de la mujer."  I took the title from a book of the same name that I had read as part of a Chicano Studies class at university. I didn't grow up speaking Spanish in the home, although my mother was a language chameleon. She was fluent in many tongues, though French was her native language being a Black Creole woman from Louisiana. I never learned to speak fluent French as my mother never spoke it to me and she wanted a language to talk to my older sisters that I, the youngest child, couldn't understand. This is a very Black Creole thing to do. My father and his family spoke Spanish and German. My father sounded like Ricardo Montalban crossed with a vampire. I had very little contact with my father after the age of 4 as my father and mother were never married. I had more contact with my abuelita and tia, and they spoke to me in broken English, Spanish and German. 

I took Spanish, French, Italian and German in school, but I feel like I have never been able to master any language, including English. That’s why I am known for subverting language in the way I speak, write and perform. With the song "Essays de la mujer," I tried to write Spanish lyrics in my limited way and, of course, Fertile and Alice corrected things as they always stressed that the Spanish used in the songs be grammatically correct. 

I think our goals with Cholita was to present our politics in a humorous fashion without being dogmatic, to show that women's humour is playful and whimsical, and that the message doesn't have to be all soap-boxy, Sturm und Drang, and pretentious.

The music video for “No controles” was very spontaneous, though not completely. We had Rick Castro, aka Beulah Love, doing the fashion styling. A popular drag performer of that time named Gender, aka Fred Boege, who worked full-time as a make-up and hair-stylist in a mall, was our make-up and hair person for the video, which was shot and edited by Quasi O'Shea of the collective Amoeba Records and Filmworks. I had been working with Quasi since the early 1980s producing my video films and recorded musical output. Amoeba Records and Filmworks is no relation to the store that came later called Amoeba Records. Amoeba was formed by Gomorrah Wednesday and Quasi and became a collective comprised of working class malcontents and omnisexual queers. A lot of the films I made under the Amoeba banner were lumped under the Trespass Cinema moniker, which was the west coast answer to New York's Cinema of Transgression scene.



The location of MacArthur Park was chosen because Gender, the make-up artist, lived close by and I had always wanted to film something at that park as it has quite a history for me. The nearby cheap clothing outlets, at 7th & Alvarado, were where I did my back-to-school shopping as a very poor child.

Fashion was always very important for Cholita and all my projects. I worked with Rick, who was a professional fashion stylist at that time, and through the Afro Sisters and Cholita he got to do more things that were funky and in-line with his off-kilter aesthetics. I was definitely trying to disassociate from the more commercial aspects of normative drag and mainstream fashion. Madonna wasn't really an influence as she was already very well established in the mainstream. Our looks were just our versions of what teenage Latina girls were wearing at that time; only we exaggerated things a bit. As my relationship with Rick soured in the 90s, we went back to basics. Fertile returned as the main costume design supervisor with help from Michele Mills who was part of the Cholita ensemble, which sometimes numbered as many as 20 Cholitas on stage depending on the particular gig. Fertile was a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Downtown Los Angeles and created original clothing for Retail Slut.


Fertile LaToyah Jackson as Frida Kahlo pic by Beulah Love 1983


Yes, we did appropriate a banda style when that became a recognizable trend in LA Latino communities, but our schoolgirl look wasn't referencing Japan but Latina girls who attended Catholic High Schools like Bishop Canady on Pico Blvd. We liked our criticism of mainstream fashion to be subtle. Sometimes people got it and sometimes they didn't and that didn't matter. You took from Cholita what you wanted and we wanted people to form their own opinions. 

Yes, I remember Cholita performing at a big cultural center in San Diego in the 1990s. The event was curated by the members of the old East LA punk band Los Illegals. I think we called the piece “Canto Infantil” and we did a salute to Gloria Trevi. By that time we were a tight band because Alice is quite the slave master when it comes to rehearsing. People were shocked that we actually became a slicker performing group with matching outfits and simple but nicely choreographed dance moves.

I always saw Cholita as continuing with younger people, eventually taking our place so that there would be newer generations of Cholita. Cholita never formally disbanded, so perhaps they can re-emerge in this new century.

My other art band PME actually re-emerged over a decade after our last performance, as part of the Performa Biennale in New York City in 2009, with a piece called "Reparations and Retardations".  So, who knows? Maybe Cholita will see the light of day again, but I don't think I can fit the frilly socks. I am not much for nostalgia, so if Cholita does come back it would have to be its own thing that reflects now and not the past.


Ms Davis.


Jul 25, 2015 at 8:39 AM

Dear Ms. Davis,

Thank you for your last reply and I apologize for my late response. Since I last wrote, I've been helping several artists digitize slides and photos and organize their archives. Have you given any thought about where your archives will be placed in the future? Will they be donated to an institute in Berlin or do you think you'd like them to be returned to the States?

It's interesting to learn how MacArthur Park became chosen as the music video location for ¡Cholita! Historically, it was a Jewish community, but in the 80s, especially, it became mostly Latino and Latin American. Given all the anti-immigration rhetoric of the late 80s and early 90s in LA, your music video and lyrics are very relevant.

I didn't realize so many languages were spoken in your family. Learning other languages is rather difficult for me, too. My family only speaks English, but having grown up in a Latino and Latin American immigrant community in South Central, of course I heard Spanish. Perhaps not surprisingly, as a kid my grasp of Spanish mostly consisted of profanity and insults. Although I'm Latina, I'm fourth generation American and Spanish language skills ended for my family during my grandparents' generation. For instance, one of my grandmothers, who grew up in East LA, simply didn't hear Spanish in the house by the time she, the baby of the family, was born; English was the primary language at that point. One of my grandfathers, who grew up in Watts, was physically punished at school by his teachers for speaking Spanish. So, at a very young age, he learned to suppress it for safety and acceptance. He consciously didn't teach my mother or her siblings Spanish because he didn't want them to be discriminated against. So, I learned Spanish in college and now my family has been experiencing a sort of rebirth of Spanish in the family. Through school and marriages with first and second generation Latinos, we and our kids are acquiring the language. It's pretty cool.




Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 2:27 PM

Dear Ms. Davis,

I recently listened to the Rising Stars, Falling Stars podcast and learned about the course you'll be teaching. I wish I could attend! How was your last film screening at the Arsenal in August? Are you doing new screenings for this month?

To clarify, when you stated that you had thought of Cholita being reemerging, did you mean that you'd imagine it with a whole new slate of band members—a new generation of performers (without you as Graciela)? Or did you mean that Cholita could reunite with the original line-up?




Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 10:31 PM

Dear Dr. Rose,

Yes, the last screening was lovely. I showed a Polish musical animation short, two short subjects from the Republic of Georgia, and an episode of the 1960s American TV variety revue show Shindig. I received a lot of emails requesting that I post the opening text I wrote to my blog at There is already a description of the evening and who showed up.

I have been curating this event every month for almost 8 years now. The next screening is Sept. 27th and I will present the concert film Stop Making Sense, featuring The Talking Heads and directed by Jonathan Demme.

Very busy at the moment finishing these sculpture panels for my solo visual art exhibition that will open Nov. 20th in NYC at Invisible-Exports Gallery called "Come on Daughter Save Me."

If Cholita did re-appear it would most likely be a whole new generation groomed by me and Alice Bag as a reunion of original members would prove to be too daunting of a project. But who knows . . .


Ms. Davis

Sent from my analog 1920's landline Kierkegaard phone.


Rare pic of Alice Bag at famed punk club The Masque late 1970s with X8, Al Flipside, Ines de la Fressange, and Carla "maddog" Duplantier Ms. Vaginal Davis ' cousin who also grew up a Jehovah's Witness setting up drums in the back


Rose G. Salseda is a Ph.D. Candidate in Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.

Vaginal Davis is the grande dame of intermedia arts and sciences. Her beat is galactica at