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qv11 - qvTriumphs


What's Pride Got To Do With It?
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 PazDanny 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 2000.

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."

Today, 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 f**ken queer!'"

"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 him alone!"

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 am."
"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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