I Survived Racy, Spanish-Language TV
New Times staff writer Janine Zeitlin on La Cosa Nostra.
I was the type of kid who got nervous during show and tell. My face would turn crimson. I’d shuffle my Keds. I haven’t progressed all that much. So when I was invited to La Cosa Nostra, the perverse and profound late night Spanish-language show on America TeVe, my response was “Umm….”
My Spanish is far from perfect. I stammer when I speak English in front of a camera. In May, I wrote a New Times feature on the unpredictable and sexy show. The producers and cast were wonderfully open and accessible. There was no decent excuse for me not to be aside from televised embarrassment, which probably should have been enough.
Gelet Martinez, a central player in the LCN cast, and a cameraman came to the New Times to tape a segment. The interview only lasted an hour but in the hours after I rehashed every stupid tidbit I uttered. Did I say my boss likes when I write about scantily clad women? (Gulp. Kind of. But it’s true.)
On Tuesday, they invited me to the live 11 o'clock broadcast. I downed a glass of therapeutic Cabernet Sauvignon while lathering on stripper-quality makeup. I sent a cell picture to my guy: Do I look like Baby Jane? And then drove to the Hialeah Gardens studios. The cast complimented my appearance, which led me to believe I looked super-frumpy the times prior or they were being very kind.
The Venezuelan psychologist, a LCN regular, suggested focusing on something in which I was knowledgeable during the show. I imagined myself writing in English. Okay, I thought. That won’t work. What followed was a blur. Carlucho, the Cuban comic who is now the main host, introduced me sweetly. I willed my feet not to trip. I tried to speak semi-coherent Spanish in front of the massive table and lights. A woman sprayed mist on me and cleansed me with herbs. The other gringo on the show led me to dance on stage as the Cuban-centric cast laughed at our mutual rhythm impairments.
Carlucho asked me to weigh in on if the resident paranormal guru was saying something perverse or profound. When I saw the guru’s expectant eyes staring back at me, I couldn’t bear to tell him that it wasn’t at all profound so I said in Spanish, “It’s not that profound but no es mierda.” Shit, I thought. Can I say that on TV? But then, this is the show where the stripper who dances at the end of show only sports nipple covers. All was okay. I think. I still haven’t seen the tape.
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