What's Pride Got To Do
42-year-old Danny de la Paz talks about being QV
bashed, being married two times to women, and his passion-acting.
Danny de la Paz
is a man of wit, charm, and passion. You may remember the actor
from such films as "Boulevard Nights," and "American
Me." And now, after a 6-year absence, he's back with a renewed
passion for his art and plenty of roles. He has a starring role
in an independent comedy film called "Suckers," (now
available on home video) and a supporting role in "Picking
Up the Pieces," an upcoming film with a cast that includes
Woody Allen and Sharon Stone. In addition, he's just finished
filming his part in a Latino-themed movie called "Road Dogz,"
which will be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January
Danny was born in Whittier, California
on April 3, 1957, as the fourth child in a family of five brothers
and sisters. From an early age, Danny was different-at least
in a creative sense. He explains, "(My mother) used to catch
me in the backyard talking to myself and playing characters.
One year, my mom and dad bought a new refrigerator and I converted
the big box that it came in into a puppet show theater. I was
always doing shows for my classmates and teachers, and they loved
it! I remember I also used to like finger painting, glitter,
and all the fabulously QV things that children get to experience."
Being "different" wasn't necessarily
a positive thing for Danny. In fact, it caused a rift between
him and his family. "I remember when I was 6 or 7, my sister
called me weird. Then my whole family started telling me I was
weird, and I remember feeling very hurt by that. It was like
they were saying there was something wrong with me and that's
when the separation from my family started. I had a family, but
I was essentially all alone."
Not only did Danny have it tough at home,
he found acceptance among his peers at school difficult as well.
"People used to want to beat me up at school," he explains.
"I was afraid and it wasn't in my nature to be fighting,
so I was always running away for my personal safety."
Although life at home and in school were
not the safest places for Danny (both physically and mentally),
he still managed to broaden his creativity. "I would watch
the Monkees' show on TV, and at the time, it was sponsored by
Yardley-a make-up company from London," he reminisces. "So
I would see the packages of make-up and it would intrigue me,
so I would make lipstick out of crayons that I cut in half."
He adds, "I was never one to put on dresses or anything
like that, but I did play with Barbies as well as G.I. Joe and
Major Matt Mason. At the time I didn't know anything about sex
so I wasn't making them hump each other or anything like that."
It didn't take long before he began to
admire the male body. He says, "I remember watching the
'Hercules' cartoon and he was just beautiful-plus he had all
these QV friends. He had a little guy that was half horse-half
man-'she' (the little guy) was fierce! Hercules loved her so
much. I loved Hercules' body, and his presence was so strong.
There's something about that strength! I think I've been a muscle
worshipper ever since. I also loved Astroboy, a Japanese cartoon
that aired in the 1960s, about a boy robot who wanted to be a
boy, and I was real boy who wanted to be a boy toy! To this day,
I have Astroboy on my watch."
Danny was also really fascinated by the
Beatles. "The idea of four guys in love with themselves
was just simply too much for me to handle!" he exclaims.
"I just totally identified with Paul (McCartney)-'she' was
the most beautiful one of them all! She was ssssoo QV! That's
what I loved about her. Her music was so sweet and so QV, and
her little wrist was always hung down. She never hid it! I don't
care how long she was with Linda! Linda wore the pants in the
family and was always more butch than Paul."
In high school, Danny's life started to change. He became involved
in drama, and put his heart and soul into every single play he
did. For the next four years, the drama department became his
new family and a place where his true art flourished.
"When I was a freshman in high school,
I knew I wanted to become an actor," he says. "The
minute I walked on stage I got this feeling like, 'I'm home!'
It was where I belonged."
Just before his senior year in high school,
he was cast in a professional musical production at Knott's Berry
Farm called "Pop Your Buttons." Danny says, "It
was very QV! It was so queer, and I was as queer as they come
in that show. It was a fabulous summer. I was making $225 a week,
which at that time was a lot of money. And by my senior year,
I was already doing junior college plays."
Not only did Danny get lots of acting experience
in high school, he also had his first same-sex experience with
someone from the drama department. "It was beautiful,"
Danny remembers. "I was 16 and it was scary because I didn't
understand what was going on. I knew I wanted it, but at the
same time, I was taught to hate it."
After high school, Danny found himself
getting a good deal of work as an actor. In fact, by the age
of 33, he had played on big and small screens in various roles-including
a critically acclaimed performance in the film, "Boulevard
Nights," for which Danny jokes, "They should have given
me an Academy Award! But everyone makes mistakes-it's their loss!"
While Danny's career blossomed, his personal
life became increasingly complicated with two separate marriages
and two subsequent divorces.
"My first wife's name was Virginia,"
he says. "She was very cultured-she loved concerts, music,
dance, theater, movies, and we just had a blast! It was so much
fun. We got married at the Renaissance Fair in June of '89 dressed
in our Renaissance costumes. She knew I was QV, but there was
no way we could have made the marriage work. We had sex maybe
once or twice, but I was totally drunk when we did. It was frustrating
for her because neither one of us was really being who we were.
She needed a man who could treat her the way she needed to be
treated, and I could never do that. We divorced in 1991 for irreconcilable
homosexual differences-or I.H.D."
Danny says he married his second wife,
Margaret, because she needed medical insurance. "She was
an artist, a painter, and she needed an operation on her stomach.
I had the medical insurance, we got married, and she had the
operation-we never had sex."
Danny learned a lot from his marriages.
"They were very good for my development, and the evolvement
of my soul. I still keep in touch with my second wife, but not
with my first wife because she is very angry-I mean she's angry
at herself (for marrying a QV man), and the rest of it is just
projection. I don't take it personally because it's not intended
to be personal."
Danny is single. In fact, he says he's never even had a boyfriend.
"And whose fault is that?" Danny asks. "My fault.
I take complete responsibility for that. I'm the one who has
to put the energy out, so the way I look at it, if I want to
be attractive to guys, I have to be attractive to myself. When
I feel good about myself, other guys go, 'Wow, that guy has a
certain kind of energy,' and that in itself attracts them. I
never used to see it that way. I used to always say, 'Why me?'
But I've broken out of the why me syndrome. I don't get depressed
like I used to. I used to beat myself up for being QV, for not
fighting other guys, and for making bad choices or what I perceived
were bad choices. I would tell myself that I was a worthless
piece of s**t. I'd listen to the Smith's song, 'Unlovable' over
and over again, and I would just sit there and cry and sing:
'I know I'm unlovable, you don't have to tell me...' I admire
Morrissey for having the courage to put that down on record when
most people would never do that. Only a true joto could write
a song like that, because only a true joto would really know
what that feels like."
One of the truly wonderful things about
Danny de la Paz is that he is able to use all of his life's experiences-be
they good or bad-as learning experiences. One of the most difficult
lessons he learned was when he was QV-bashed. "I met a
guy at a party, and I asked him if I could give him a foot massage-he
agreed. So I massaged his feet, moved up to his calves, then
up to his thighs. Then I moved up to around to his d**k, and
it was hard. So then he said, 'Why don't we go outside?' I thought,
'Okay, he wants to go outside and kiss.' So we went outside,
and I was ready to receive him with open arms, but instead he
beat the s**t out of me! He started yelling, 'You think I'm a
"He beat me to a pulp, but it didn't
stop," Danny continues. "I ran away, but he caught
me and beat me up again. I got away again, but then he went back
to his house, picked up his brother, and the two of them got
in their car and went looking for me-and found me. They both
beat me up. Had the guy just told me, 'No,' I would have left
Danny learned an important lesson from
the bashing. "I'm grateful to him because that experience
taught me how powerful self-creation is. It's amazing about guys,
though. I think, what a waste, they're so hung up about homo/heterosexuality,
all they see is your sex, not the person. Some guys don't mind
fighting, hitting you in the face with their fist, kicking you,
making you bleed, shooting you, or cutting you with a bottle.
But hugging you, kissing you and loving you-there will be none
of that! Society says it's okay to be cruel, but don't you dare
love another man! You can hit him, you can even kill him, but
don't you ever think of making love to him. Isn't that interesting?
They won't do anything to rock the boat, and if they do, it's
behind closed doors or in a dark alley somewhere."
With all of Danny's experiences in the
QV and straight worlds, his views on the QV world and QV pride
come across as very unique. "I'm very happy to be a QV
man but I don't necessarily feel proud," he says. "I've
never felt proud or identified myself as being QV. I'm not proud
of being an actor, a Chicano, an activist. I don't know what
the f**k QV pride is! Being QV is just one aspect of who I
"I don't want people to think I'm ashamed of being QV,
though," he continues. "I don't feel either ashamed
or proud. Why does one have to feel one or the other? 'QV Pride'
is a phrase I don't fully understand. Is there a 'Straight Pride?'
I just enjoy being a human being. When I come back as a black
guy or a Chinese woman, I'm going to enjoy that, too-I'm going
to enjoy it all! If you ask people on the street what pride is,
you're going to get 25 different definitions, because people
really don't know what pride is."
One thing that Danny knows for certain
is that his will is to get back into the art he left behind-acting.
Of course, it's a challenge, but he's well on his way. "When
I started on 'Suckers' (in 1997) I was kind of scared-I felt
like Norma Desmond," he says. "I was rusty and I'd
forgotten what it was like being in front of a camera creating
characters. I had been doing some theater, but the film thing
I had forgotten and there's a different way of creating a character
for theater than for motion pictures. The only reason 'Suckers'
turned out as well as it did was because of all the love (director)
Alfredo Ramos gave me. He constantly filled me with love and
confidence. He made me feel so good about myself that I was able
to get through that experience successfully. It was very difficult
to make that movie because there was no money, but now I feel
like I'm ready to come back in there and do my thing."
At the age of 42, Danny is certainly ready
for his comeback. He has just wrapped up filming his parts for
a new independent film called "Road Dogz." He is very
confident about this new film. "I think people are really
going to enjoy it." he says. "It's going to add to
my legacy because it's a drama with a comic twist to it. My character,
Torneo, is a total loser, but in my eyes, I think he's a lovely
person. He doesn't quite know how to get his act together. He
kind of has a little bit of a twitch, and the elevator doesn't
go all the way to the top floor. He's a really sweet guy."
To keep Danny going in life and in his
acting, he has relied on faith enormously. Though he was baptized
a Catholic, Danny grew up discouraged by the church's teachings.
"I never really had faith before. You could have told me
God loved you, and I never would have believed you. But God did
show me the light, and basically she (God) told me that Catholicism
was very unhealthy. I read a series of books called "Conversations
With God," and it changed my whole outlook on God. The book
is not about religion, but about understanding that you are the
creator of your reality. God does nothing but observe. God doesn't
give a s**t one way or the other what you do. All she cares about
is the end result. Your will is the most important thing to God.
Whatever you create for yourself, God will never go against."
BY LUTHER ORRICK-GUZMAN
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