( 1957- )
Carmelita Tropicana is the stage persona of Cuban-born writer and performance artist Alina Troyano. In the early 1980s, Troyano"went to WOW [ New York's lesbian performance space] looking for girls and found something more long- lasting: theatre" ( Román, 84). In 1983 she appeared in Holly Hughes Well of Horniness where the challenge of playing a man and a butch girl helped free Troyano from cultural expectations and led to the creation of Carmelita. "Through Carmelita I could be whoever I wanted to be. It didn't matter if I transgressed certain expected behavior" ( Roman, 92).
Working in collaboration with filmmaker Ela Troyano, her sister, and Uzi Parnes, Carmelita Tropicana was soon performing in Club Chandelier, the WOW Cafe, La Mama, P.S. 122, and other downtown spaces in New York. It was not until 1987 that Carmelita had a name for what she was doing, when, at Ela Troyano's urging, Carmelita Tropicana applied for and won a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Performance Art. Since then she has performed her unique blend of politics and humor throughout the United States and abroad. Excerpts of her plays and short stories have appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Latinas on Stage, and Semiotexte. With Ela Troyano she coauthored the screenplay Carmelita Tropicana: Your Kunst Is Your Waffen, which aired on Public Broadcasting Service in 1995 and was shown in numerous film festivals. It won Best Short at the Berlin Film Festival and toured Germany as a double feature with the Cuban film Strawberry and Chocolate. Tropicana currently serves on the Artists Advisory Board of the New Museum of Contemporary Art and on the Avant-Garde-a-Rama Committee of Performance Space 122; she is a member of Actors Equity.