What to Expect During Queer Frida at Crescent Ballroom in Downtown Phoenix

Athena Sanchez is creating a Frida-inspired installation for Queer Frida.
Courtesy of Juli Myers
Athena Sanchez is creating a Frida-inspired installation for Queer Frida.
What started as a post-election conversation back in November has evolved into a new film called You Racist, Sexist, Bigot. It’s being funded in part by community events happening around the country.

In Phoenix, that effort includes Queer Frida, which happens this Sunday, August 6, at Crescent Ballroom. It’s a celebration of 20th-century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, which includes live music, dance, art, spoken word, and drag performance.

You Racist, Sexist, Bigot is a full-length documentary comprising first-person accounts by people in marginalized communities who share the impact of bigotry on their lives. Karyna Jaramillo and Juli Myers, two Phoenix residents featured in the film, are hosting Sunday’s Queer Frida performance.

The film has another Phoenix connection.

It grew out of a conversation between Matty Steinkamp, a filmmaker with Phoenix-based Sundawg Media, and Pita Juarez. Juarez is a Phoenix-based multimedia journalist whose other projects include the Mira Listen podcast serving the bilingual, immigrant, LGBTQ, and activist community.

"We were mindful of the political climate, and the rise in hate crimes after the presidential election," Juarez says. "But we also realized that not all discrimination is in your face, so we wanted to talk with people about their different experiences of it."

They spent nine months making the film, including time spent connecting with people across several generations. "We gathered stories from people who'd faced discrimination because of age, religion, gender identity, immigration status, and other factors," Juarez says.

Filmmakers are working to raise $50,000 by December 2. To date, says Juarez, they've raised just $8,000. The money will go towards putting the documentary on the film festival circuit, and its eventual release. But producers are also working to develop a related curriculum for secondary and higher-education students.

click to enlarge AmberSkies will do live body painting during Queer Frida. - AMBERSKIES
AmberSkies will do live body painting during Queer Frida.
“Queer Frida is a celebration of Frida Kahlo’s fearless pride in being a brown queer woman,” Myers says.

But they chose Frida for other reasons, too.

"She was a little crazy, a little out there," Juarez says. "Like a lot of people in the film, she wasn't big on following the rules, and her work was always thought-provoking."

Kahlo has inspired many Arizona artists through the years.

The Phoenix Fridas artist collective includes several women artists, working in diverse media, who draw inspiration from Kahlo. In 2005, Phoenix choreographer Liliana Gomez premiered Kahlo-inspired dance works at the Heard Museum, which is currently showing an exhibition titled "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera."

Sunday’s Queer Frida event opens with musical performance by Phoenix-based Cumbia Fenix, and the premiere of the film’s trailer. The evening also includes Spanish and English recitations of Frida’s love letters.

The dance lineup includes performance by Mesa choreographer Athene, whose piece pays tribute to Josephine Baker. She’s joined by Phoenix-based Reyna Montoya, who founded the nonprofit Aliento, which works with undocumented immigrants.

Queer Frida also features drag performance by Sasha Bratz and Rebyl Chyld. Bratz’s piece pays tribute to Mexican singer Chavela Vargas.

Before the evening wraps with dancing and tunes by DJ Musa Mind, a trio of artists will add a creative spin to the Frida lovefest.

click to enlarge Adriana Martina Cruz will be live painting during Queer Frida. - ADRIANA MARTINA CRUZ
Adriana Martina Cruz will be live painting during Queer Frida.
Adriana Martina Cruz
Adriana Martina Cruz will be live painting a canvas during Queer Frida, while cosplay artist AmberSkies airbrushes an original work of body art on a human canvas. And Athena Sanchez is presenting an installation inspired by Kahlo and her work.

Collectively, these artists reflect a key message in the film. "Everyone thinks Arizona is a white, conservative state," Juarez says. "We want people to know that Arizona is a beautiful place full of brown and black faces."

Myers hopes they get a robust turnout for the event. “It’s the biggest and last fundraising effort in Phoenix before we head out around the country to build awareness and share our message," she says.

Queer Frida takes place on Sunday, August 6, at Crescent Ballroom. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Tickets are $10. For more information or tickets, visit the Crescent Ballroom website.