Transgenero Performance: Gender and Transformation in Fronteras Desviadas/Deviant Borders

This idea is explicitly manifested in the scene we called, alternately, the “Quinceañera/ Maquiladora Waltz” or the “Pink Piñata/Paso Cruzado.” As the women performers emerge from a table dance grotesque, they place the enormous plastic body parts (buttocks and “bras with prosthetic painted breasts”22) that they were wearing in yellow plastic bags. These bags, which most Mexicans from Baja California will immediately recognize as coming from the local grocery superstore chain, Calimax, are emblazoned with the logo, “Has la cuenta, y date cuenta!”23 The music of a traditional Quinceañera celebration begins, as an announcer’s voice introduces the young woman of the day:

ANNOUNCER: Ahora, recibamos con un fuerte aplauso, a la quinceañera! Ella, que hoy a llegado a la edad de las promesas e ilusiones. Ha dejado de ser niña, para ser mujer. Ella celebra sus quince primaveras. presentandose ante la sociedad . . . y ante las maquiladoras!24

What begins as a seemingly normal introduction to a “coming out” party for the belle of the ball suddenly becomes her unsuspecting introduction into the world of maquiladoras. The movements of the dancers become increasingly mechanical, and at the same time deathly, as the announcer proudly proclaims the long list of multinational companies that actually have factories in Tijuana. As the list continues, seemingly endlessly, to the tune of the waltz, a poem by Assaf is overlaid to further complicate, and illuminate, the meaning of the scene:

When the little dyed–
blonde girl
piñata in the pink dress
bursts open,
what falls from the
a thousand nude plastic babies
5000 used condoms
100 tamarind candies covered in chili
champagne and confetti
cigarette butts
wet thumping organs
chilis rellenos
border patrol
military rifles
vaginal fluids
30,000 widgets
some used car parts
a blue baby blanket
contaminated water
bright yellow lines
the moon and the ocean
and herself as a child
in that same pink dress . . .25

As these multiple texts overlap and collide, one dancer lifts the other and continues the steps of the waltz, while the suspended dancer, legs spread-eagle, looks off in the distance with the blank stare of someone already dying inside. The announcer concludes triumphantly, que la esperan con los brazos abiertos!”26In this universe of juxtaposition, unseen “gentlemen” are the owners and promoters of “businesses,” and invisible accomplices in a world of death and impunity, sustained by both countries. The bodies of young women are thrust into these global markets, even before they’ve had an opportunity to assert their own adult consciousness.

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