Entertainment

John Leguizamo’s Musical ‘Kiss My Aztec!’ Is All About the ‘Beginning of Latin Man’

In our eyes, Colombian-American actor, comedian, writer and producer John Leguizamo can do no wrong — and now he just cemented this with his musical comedy “Kiss My Aztec!”

The play is set in the 16th century, and dives into the story of Aztec warriors taking on Spanish conquistadores. As Leguizamo explains to NBC, he took inspiration from Latino cultural narratives: “We have such a wealth of stories that we’ve had for 500 years in America, in Latin America” including “mythology, inventors, scientists, fighters, [and] heroes.” 

Leguizamo said that he wants “those stories to be told,” continuing to put Hispanic culture at the forefront through his artistry. This time around, though? “Kiss My Aztec!” is all about “the beginning of Latin man.” 

“Kiss My Aztec!” is now running at Hartford Stage in Hartford, Connecticut, from June 10 to June 26.

Just like Leguizamo’s other productions like “Mambo Mouth,” “Spic-O-Rama,” and “Klass Klown,” “Kiss My Aztec!” is a wild ride into the actor’s mind — and comes with everything you can expect from the “Chef” star, who co-wrote the play himself with Tony Taccone.

And the music is fantastic, too. As Leguizamo explains: “Musically, it’s like coming to a party at my house… bachata, cumbia, merengue, ranchera, and we’ve got hip-hop and funk in there, too.” Okay, count us in!

While some are disappointed to note that Leguizamo does not star in the play, noting he can’t keep “a melody or a pitch,” his tongue-in-cheek comedy style is very much present, showing the 61-year-old actor isn’t afraid to push the envelope with his writing. 

As Leguizamo explains, “If only people could chill out and not be afraid of history… Once you acknowledge that America is imperfect … you’re down with us — and in on the joke.”

The actor and writer has always pushed boundaries, and used his platform to call for more Latino representation in Hollywood.

In his interview with the Academy Awards Seen series, he talked about growing up in Queens as “the poster child for a troubled kid” until a high school teacher inspired him to pursue comedy. Later on, he always wanted “to reach people who are like me, kids that were like me, that felt unseen or unwanted, that [felt like] you didn’t matter. You didn’t count.” 

Leguizamo also spoke about Latino stereotypes and experiencing racism in Hollywood.

As he now explains, “just because of how I look, how I sound, my economic class that I come from, it’s just not a fair playing field. No matter how talented you are, it doesn’t matter. But I thought talent was the great equalizer.”

He even talked about colorism in the industry, admitting, “I stayed out of the sun so I could work… I definitely would not go in the sun for years.” 

As someone who has often questioned “what happened to all the Afro-Latinos and the majority of indigenous Latinos” in Hollywood, and knows there is “an audience and a hunger” for more Latino representation across the board, Leguizamo’s “Kiss My Aztec!” could not come at a better time.

The actor describes how Latinos are “sorely missing everywhere — our stories, our culture.”

He continued, “Just the amount of Latin talent that exists right now is so potent. … We are so gifted, and we just don’t get a chance to express ourselves.”

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