It’s got to be the most bizarre event in Medellin. Every Sunday in Parque Bolivar, following evening mass, families pour out of the Metropolitan Cathedral and jostle for a seat on the steps to watch La Dany the transvestite perform.
Like every diva, La Dany likes to keep her audience waiting. So first come some other street performers to get the crowd going.
Under the bright floodlights of the plaza, a tiny pincha dog dressed in an equally tiny poncho and sombrero dances salsa with a scruffy man dressed in a white wife beater and tracksuit pants. The crowd warms up quickly, clapping along to the music and laughing when the dog breaks away to attack a passer-by. The mini-Mexican pooch’s scruffy dance partner, annoyed at the dog’s bad behavior, stuffs her into a small blue suitcase to the crowd’s delight.
While all this is going on, a group of transvestites has been unloading carts of what look like the leftover junk that no one would buy at a garage sale. Suitcases, stuffed animals, pot plants, a computer monitor, a door, a window frame, wigs, a vanity mirror, a ladder, a TV, a futon and even a microwave take up an area of about ten by two meters. All are as battered as a fairy in a football scrum.
Finally, La Dany, as she likes to be called, makes her entrance. She rides into the performance space on a bike, horn blaring, jumps up on the futon and immediately launches into a rambling monologue, heavily seasoned with every Colombian swear word under the sun.
With her black glasses, a deep burgundy pinafore dress, Homer Simpson slippers and blond dreads tied into two pony tails, it’s like watching a grungy Goldilocks on acid.
“I’m not a fag, or a man, or a lesbian, I’m just a character, nothing more,” she tells the crowd.
La Dany has been performing in Parque Bolivar for twenty years. Infamous in Medellin for her vulgar over-the-top performances, two Canadian film makers made a documentary about her chaotic and at times tragic life. According to the film makers she was kicked out of home at 15 for sleeping with a married man, lived on the street, was shot in the face, had many of her teeth destroyed in a traffic accident, has been kidnapped and beaten and was given poisoned popcorn by an unknown person after a show.
Through it all she has continued to perform in Parque Bolivar.
Flapping about the stage in her over sized slippers, her performance has a loose structure, which she continually strays from to interact with the audience, spraying them with insults — and they can’t get enough of it!
It’s like being on a schizophrenic roller coaster. The crowd comes along for the ride as La Dany introduces them to her dozen stuffed animals, climbs through windows, up and down ladders, mimes fellatio on a teddy bear, fights with her ‘mother’ — a mangy yellow giraffe– gives birth to three dolls and then pulls a raw chicken carcass out from under her dress. You never know what she’ll do next, but aren’t surprised when she chucks the carcass into the crowd and asks who wants to be its godmother.
After a good hour or so La Dany starts to wind down, passing a bucket around for change and saying “anyone who wants to contribute something, thanks very much, anyone who doesn’t can eat s**t”.
The show starts from about 7pm every Sunday. Watch out for pickpockets and laugh along with the locals!