Art > stage
The book of Ellen
Comedy Central's Jade Esteban Estrada rewrites history in pink
He's been called "a show biz messiah" and "a talented man truly on his way to the top." He's been described as an "engaging" and "incredible" performer. But get to know Jade Esteban Estrada, and see for yourself why this Latin entertainer is receiving so much praise from critics around the world.
The 29-year-old San Antonio native is touring the U.S. with his one-man show ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Volume1, in which he portrays six figures from past to present that he considers iconic: Sappho, Michelangelo, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Rivera, and Ellen DeGeneres.
Estrada interacts with the audience during his performance, and even his wardrobe changes take place on stage. He says he loves communicating with his viewers. "Keeping an audience interested, in the TV generation, is a challenge. That's why live theater separates the men from the boys when it comes to the entertainment industry."
ICONS Volume 1 debuted in September 2002. Estrada also created Volume 2, which premiered in September 2004, and he already has a Volume 3, which will debut in September 2006. He portrays different characters in each volume. Volume 1 will celebrate its 100th performance in Los Angeles in about three weeks.
Because he works so much, Estrada says he hasn't spent enough time "smelling the roses ... I've lived such a fast life. It's nice to send a Christmas card sometimes. It's nice to talk to a friend on the phone. I feel like I'm just now getting to know my family."
Estrada is a a chameleon on and off stage. In 1994, he won the award for Funniest Amateur Comic in New York at Stand-Up New York. In 2001, his album Angel was released on the Vicarious Records label. Estrada was also a choreographer and lead dancer for the multi-talented Latin star Charo (you remember, the "Cuchi, Cuchi girl").
In summer 2005, Estrada will star in the new reality TV show, Quintessential ... New York on VOOM TV, and he currently plays bit parts in Comedy Central's The Graham Norton Effect. He says for his last role on the show he was spanked by a dominatrix. "My most challenging role ever," Estrada joked. "I wore little tight spandex shorts and the girl kept spanking me. I had to say 'ouch' a lot."
But being an entertainer wasn't the only path in life Estrada thought he would follow. "I really thought I was going to go into the clergy," he says. "[Church] was so grand and theatrical. It's a big Broadway show!" Estrada says that while experimenting with different religions, the Catholic faith made a big impression on him. He might have been a history professor, but in acting, "the costumes are more fun."
Estrada says he learned a lesson from the GOP last year. "They went grassroots to get their philosophies publicized." He plans to do the same. "I'm taking my show to every town in this country that will have me. My show in San Antonio is part of that. My show is not a gay thing, it's a human thing." •
By Chris Perez