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Salty Broad: Marga Gomez whips all those big names into shape.

Loud Mouth, Soft UnderBelly

Marga Gomez targets Hollywood's sacred cows

By Peter Koht

While what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in Hollywood is fair game--especially if Marga Gomez is on the set. Over the course of her upcoming show, Los Big Names, she talks about Dustin Hoffman's flatulence, Kathleen Turner's insensitivity and well, uh, Sharon Stone's fuckability.

Asked if she feared the backlash of such powerful entertainers, Gomez replies rather glibly. "I don't give a shit really, I am a salty broad. Besides, she adds, "if someone really wants you for a part, then they will deal with you shooting off your mouth."

Los Big Names is about more than talking smack. It examines the ridiculous nature of typecasting in show business. Gomez relates the wide variety of roles she has been offered over the years: "I have played a Latino maid, a Latino hooker and a Latino midwife," she says. "Next week I am taping an episode of Guiding Light in which I play a Latino prison inmate. I'm supposed to play the aggressive alpha inmate. But in reality I would be everyone's bitch in prison. I would have to do everyone's laundry."

Despite this biting cultural commentary regarding "liberal" Hollywood, Gomez's piece is about coming to terms with her parental relationship.

The product of a very "alternative" childhood, Gomez was raised on the stage. Both her parents worked in Spanish-language theater in New York.

"I was a backstage baby. At dinner I would be the only one sitting down. My mother would eat standing up in her gold lamé dress and high heels. The only time that we even attempted to be a real family was during the holidays. But even then, Thanksgiving was at midnight."

Along with lessons in stage makeup and comic timing, her parents instilled in her a burning desire to become a star. Years later, stuck on the set of the horrible Hollywood flop Sphere, Marga finally realized that "she was raised trying to seek and gain approval from strangers," and that ultimately, "the pursuit of a name is a bit like drugs, its never enough."

Though quixotic, this pursuit allowed Gomez to come to terms with her relationship with her now deceased parents. For her, Los Big Names "is about gaining clarity over my parents and ultimately myself. When I was a kid they were stars in my eyes, and then later they seemed washed up and a little embarrassing. Then at a certain age you become your parents and experience life's greatest irony. That's where I'm at now. I see their flaws but also their genius and charm."

In a way, Los Big Names is an encore for Gomez' parents. "I am proud to be a live performer. It is the legacy of my parents. My parents were funny, they were hip, they were performers and that's ephemeral. This is the only way to bring them back, since they passed on."

Marga Gomez performs on Saturday, March 19, at 8pm at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets: $27/$23 adult, $23 students and seniors with ID, $15 UCSC students with ID, $37/$33 Gold Circle.

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From the March 16-23, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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