[OutVoice] Tampa, FL: "The Jaded Prince of Pride"

TheChorusBoy at aol.com TheChorusBoy at aol.com
Sun Aug 6 06:39:32 EDT 2006


July 2005


Jade Esteban Estrada is Ellen DeGeneres in ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History 
of the World, Vol. 1 at the Suncoast Theatre. Photo by PETER DIANTONI.

ST. PETERSBURG-Cher put it best when she sang, "If I Could Turn Back Time." 
International Latin singer/actor Jade Esteban Estrada took a cue from the pop 
diva and actually peeled back the hands of time to portray a half-dozen 
important gay and lesbian historical figures in each of his one-man musicals titled 
ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1 and 2. Estrada begins 
each section portraying a pivotal gay or lesbian character from long ago. From 
there he moves forward in time picking out other key individuals in gay 

Between characters, Estrada 'travels through time' to become the next icon. 
Estrada prides himself on these transitions between characters, noting that for 
some actors that can be the most difficult part of any production, but it 
comes easily to him.

"Transitions, that's my thing," he says.

In ICONS, Estrada begins with history's 'first' lesbian, Sappho, admitting 
the character is one of his favorites. From there he treats us to days in the 
life of esteemed artist Michelangelo, authors Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein, 
Sylvia Rivera, the teenage transgender warrior who threw the first shoe in the 
Stonewall Riots, and finally, Ellen DeGeneres. Writing and choreographing the 
show himself, Estrada is really quite convincing when in character. Once he 
begins, the characters seem to take on a life of their own.

 "Oh, I'm gone. I'm in the back smoking a cigarette," he says. "They become 
their own people."

Estrada has a particular fondness for Oscar Wilde. 

"I can walk onstage with a 105 degree fever, I can be just waking up, or I 
can have not slept for 4 days and he is always the same in energy. I love that 
about him."

The inspiration for these one-man, one-act plays came about from a love of 
history that Estrada incorporated with his other passions: music, comedy and 

"I got the idea for ICONS because I have always loved history. I had the 
opportunity to do a show at the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre 
Festival. I come from musical theatre so I thought I'd put the things I love all 
together in a fun way. In Spanish we say, "Ensename con quien andas y te digo quien 
eres," (show me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are). Well, I 
started to meet people from GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign in my touring 
and I could not help but care after a while about the gay movement around the 
world. So with the history I already had and my history as a singer, I came up 
with this."

"They say that nothing you do in life is ever wasted and I believe that to be 
true. I hated tap class. In my Harvey Milk segment, I tap all the time. I 
used to always sing the girl part in 5th grade (before my voice changed) and here 
I am with Sappho remembering what it is like to be that young in my head. 
With Oscar Wilde, I used to live in England, so when I put this together it was 
like, 'If I hadn't done and experienced these particular things, I would have 
no clue how to do some of this stuff.'"

Although they have not met, Ellen DeGeneres is aware of Estrada's portrayal 
of her-her mom told her all about it. 

"I'm friends with Betty DeGeneres. We met working together with the Human 
Rights Campaign. She is really into it. You know how moms can be. She's a 
sweetheart and a great activist in the community."

Estrada began his career in comedy and music. Dubbed "America's Prince of 
Pride" by NBC News, he has participated in 168 Pride celebrations around the 
world in the past five years. 

"As a Latin pop singer, I love my job, but I do plan to return to stand-up 
comedy once ICONS 3 opens and has had its run." 

He has performed in seven languages and in 33 countries to date. In 1995, he 
was awarded "Funniest Amateur Comic in New York" and has had this music 
featured on FX's "The Shield." He spent some time as Charo's lead dancer and has 
shared the stage with Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Margaret Cho, 
RuPaul, Jody Watley and Jimmy Somerville. Genre Magazine calls him "the most 
exciting Latin pop artist ever to emerge onto the music scene."

ICONS was produced by Gypsy Productions at the Suncoast Resort Theatre last 
year. In honor of St. Pete Pride and was brought back in May, accompanied by 
ICONS 2 which begins at the funeral of Alexander the Great's lover and rifles 
through time and characters like Billie Jean King, Mark Bingham, Harvey Milk and 
others. ICONS 3 is on the horizon-Estrada plans to debut the production in 
the fall in Columbus, Ohio. He described ICONS as being in the format of "a 
happy cabaret." ICONS 2 is a little darker. 

"It is the middle child so it's going to be a little different. For ICONS 3, 
I'd like to put the best of what I've learned together. It is going to be a 
big splashy show. It's the last one in the trilogy so I want to go out with a 

When in comes to the creative process, Estrada says "it" just comes naturally 
for him. "Sometimes as an artist, we don't have a choice with these things. 
We have to do it. It haunts us in our sleep. It pushes you off the bed until 
you write it down and capture it. An idea flies in the air and searches for a 
place to live…it wants to live in your head." With ICONS and ICONS 2 I learned 
so much about myself that I look forward to finding out what is behind ICONS 

Estrada says he loves playing the Tampa Bay area and will definitely bring 
ICONS 3 here next year. 

"I am happy to have come back to this area so many times. We have a great 
time. The people are awesome and very progressive in this particular part of 
Florida. You guys really care about equality and diversity and it's obvious. My 
show is interactive so I can always tell exactly where I am by the way people 
react. Politically or emotionally you can always tell. I always get a quick, 
clever audience when I come to Florida."

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