Tia Chucha’s Open Mic

Located a few blocks away from my house in Sylmar, Tia Chucha’s is where I initially came in search for “something”, a place where I could hear people talking to a mic and maybe share what I had been writing. Back then I started sharing my short stories, I lost my virginity under those beam lights.
Tía Chucha’s was the first place that I now call home. There’s no way around it. There’s a unique factor, the one element missing from every other open mic, an element that has been crucial for me: the people.
I can start naming people and the list would be quite big but I will focus on the emcees: Alejandro Molina and Jeffery Martin. These brothers welcome everyone that walks through Tia Chucha’s doors, regardless of who they are. There’s literally no one that has been turned down and, most everyone that came for Open Mic or Noche de Canto y Poesía (depending on which Friday), has left with something that they will never forget, that something that they needed to hear, that something that they needed to get off their chests. It’s pure magic.
Last night was very particular since it was the 5th Friday of the month and both Alejandro and Jeffery combined forces and gathered their followers. I saw what each one brings to the open mics and, simply put, they put the heart and soul to Tia Chucha’s. If it wasn’t for these two emcees, last night would not have been so special. It was the perfect blend of music, poetry, spoken word and musical collaboration that I’m still in awe of. Everyone felt the energy, everyone started dancing, laughing, making beautiful noise. Loving. It’s possibly the first time that I felt at home, the first time I felt really safe, the first time that I truly felt that presence, that palpable and visible energy force that filled the room. It was magic. Every spot in that room was filled with so much energy that I fit right in. No other place has made me feel so good. I’ve never felt so much safer than here. It took going everywhere else to realize how good I have it right here at home.
Thank you, Tia Chucha. Thanks for opening the doors to your home and let us feel at home. Thank you for allowing us to be ourselves and finding our strength hiding behind our flaws. Thanks you for letting us jam in your honor. Thanks, Tia Chucha, for I know that you were there dancing among us. You were there enjoying the music, the poetry, the spoken word, the endless jamming sessions that brought half the audience onstage. Thanks for healing me, for showing me the way. Thanks for showing me my family, my very dysfunctional yet lovable family. I was an only child but now I have so many brothers and sisters that I can’t even begin to count. Thank you, Tia Chucha. I found home.

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Family

Last night was an amazing open mic. I haven’t experienced such joy in a very long time, a once in a blue moon kind of experience where I felt that everyone at Tia Chucha’s just clicked. There wasn’t a single performer, whether they were regular or first timers, that I didn’t enjoy listening to for THIS time EVERYONE that came onstage had a message for me.
I typically say that there’s always that one person that touches me and makes me realize that I was there ready to receive that one message that made the trip worthwhile. And last night EVERYONE touched me, everyone had a message for me, everyone was in tune with the Universe.
I have an adapted family at Tia Chucha’s and I have come to realize that I belong here. I’ve been “crawling” to different open mics, trying to find out the one, trying to find that one spot that will have me say “this is it”. There have been close calls there:

House of Brews’ Mental Monday is still a close second favorite hosted by Evy Spiritluvchild became the first time that I realized the power of my words, the healing process. This will continue to be my therapy session where I get to confess my darkest secrets. Forgive me audience for I have sinned. Here is where I lost my virginity and started reading from my journal… And I can never go back! Thanks to Mama Hazze for creating this space the last Monday of each month.
Another great spot is called Holy Grounds which has the best ambiance of any open mic I’ve encountered this far. This quaint coffee shop holds beautiful art pieces by local artists and here’s where I met a very special lady named Josefina Vega. Her embossed metal art pieces are simply amazing and, at 90 years old, Josefina looks like she can live another 40 years more. Easily. The best feature is their patio where I felt right at home. There’s a beautiful chimney that creates a cozy feeling that you are home and being surrounded by beautiful people makes it all worthwhile.
Then there’s Bob’s Espresso Bar at NoHo Arts District (North Hollywood for those that are wondering what NoHo is). Meet Bob, owner and barista of the narrow little spot that hovers so much talent that it can hardly contain them all under one roof. Hosted by Jessica Wilson, Writer Wednesday attracts all musicians and poets that would like to come to the mic and expose their routines, more of a “performance” eclectic group that surprises whoever walks in that door.
I’ve been to Eastside Café in El Sereno, hosted by Iris where you can just feel the energy in the room and where everyone had the chance to come up to the mic and, once everyone came up, we all had a writing prompt that we got to read on the spot. Home of Las Cafeteras, a San Jarocho band with Hector Flores and other beautiful people. Here is the first time where I heard that music heals. Everyone is a healer, either by choosing your words quite carefully or by feeling the music deep in your soul.
I can name so many more places but it’s really Tia Chucha’s that I wanted to talk about. Located a few blocks away from my house in Sylmar, Tia Chucha’s is where I initially came in search for “something”, a place where I can hear people talking to a mic and maybe share what I had been writing. Back then I started sharing my short stories, I lost my virginity under those beam lights. I felt as if Tia Chucha’s was the first place that I now call home. There’s no way around it. There’s a unique factor, the one element missing from every other open mic, am element that has been crucial for me: the people. I can start naming people and the list would be quite big. I will focus on the emcees: Alejandro Molina and Jeffery Martin. These brothers welcome everyone that walks through Tia Chucha’s doors, regardless of who they are. There’s literally no one that has been turned down and, most everyone that came for Open Mic or Noche de Canto y Poesía (depending on which Friday you attend to), has left with something that they will never forget, that something that they needed to hear, that something that they needed to get off their chests. It’s pure magic. Last night was very particular since it was the 5th Friday of the month which happens every once in a while and both Alejandro and Jeffery combined forces and gathered their followers. I saw what each one brings to the open mics and simply put they put the heart and soul to Tia Chucha’s. If it wasn’t for these two emcees, last night would not have been so special. It was the perfect blend of music and poetry and musical collaboration that I’m still in awe of. Everyone felt the energy, everyone started dancing, laughing, making beautiful noise. Loving. It’s possibly the first time that I felt at home, the first time I felt really safe, the first time that I truly felt that presence, that palpable and visible energy force that filled the room. It was magic. Every spot in that room was filled with so much energy that I fit right in. No other place has made me feel so good. I’ve never felt do safe than here. It took going everywhere to realize how good I have it right here at home. Thank you, Tia Chucha. Thanks for opening the doors to your home and let us feel at home. Thank you for allowing us to be ourselves and finding our strength among our flaws. Thanks you for letting us jam in your honor. Thanks, Tia Chucha, for I know that you were there dancing among us. You were there enjoying the music, the poetry, the spoken word, the endless jamming that brought half the audience onstage. Thanks for healing me, for showing me the way. Thanks for showing me my family, my very dysfunctional yet lovable family. I was an only child and now I have so many brothers and sisters that I can’t even begin to count. Thank you, Tia Chucha.

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today…

I wouldn’t call myself a poet, now I write poetry…

I never heard of haiku, now I write one every day…

I was a blogger, now I blog even more…

I wrote for other people’s enjoyment, now I write for mine…

I wouldn’t share my personal feelings with strangers, now I do it every time that I get on that mic…

I had stage fright, now I still do yet I face it every time I attend open mics… And it feels good!

I didn’t love myself, now I not only love myself but I remind myself how great I am because nobody else is going to!

I admired actors on stage and wished I had been an actor myself, now I act every single time I recite poetry.

I told myself that I wished I had picked up a musical instrument now I still wish I played a guitar but I have the most beautiful instrument inside of me, waiting to be explored with endless possibilities. I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do…

I fear talking to people now I get excited to meet new artists every day, I see angels all around me, people who touch me in ways I would have never imagined, intellectually stimulating and spiritual.

I had reservations about talking about my poetry for fear of rejection now I want to shout it out from the top of the mountain! Poetry is very much alive, it’s healing, nurturing, loving, ever knowing. I’m addicted to poetry.

Maquillaje de Payaso

Mi actuación llegó a su fin. Este payaso colgará su vestuario en un maletín, juntó con sus títeres, su narizota roja y un cepillín. Hasta cuándo me dirán que soy de Medellín?
Mi oficio es hacer a la gente reír. Sacándole músculo a sus quijadas. Se reirán de mí o de ellos mismos? Yo sólo les pongo un espejo y se doblan a carcajadas.
Ahí también está el Maestro de Ceremonias, el mero mero del circo ambulante. Es un tirano el mendigo pero todos le tienen miedo al atorrante. Se cree mucho con su sombrero de felpa y su vestimenta roja, cada día lo veo en su uniforme impecable. Todos siempre mugrosos pero él siempre adelante… Algún día seré yo el Maestro, algún día…
Maquillaje cubre mis arrugas, mis defectos y dibuja mi sonrisa. Cada día cambio de colores, a veces llevo las mejillas rojas, otras veces color verde ceniza. Luego me pongo la peluca que me hace ver calvo, aunque tengo un cabello ondulado y envidiable. Las contorsionistas se doblan por tocar mi pelo, pero a esas rucas ni les hago caso. Sólo hay una mujer que tiene mi corazón y su nombre es Dolores.
Ay, que dolor me das, Dolores!!! Si supieras cuanto te deseo! Ay, que dolor me dá ver a Dolores que me ignore por ese manganzón de Igor, el hombre más fuerte del circo. Si supieras que esas 200 libras de músculo y fibra yace un adolescente que no sabe no quien es, siempre lo veo viéndose al espejo pero no vé su reflejo, más bien él vé a un escuálido y debilucho, pobre manganzón! Ay, dolor de mis dolores, ya les dije que se llama Dolores?

© 2014 Víctor Sotomayor

My Voice

My voice had been hidden, lurking between my vocal chords. Yesterday I got the chance of jamming with Rah Azul, Brown Soul Matt and Cesar at Tia Chucha’s. The session was improvised and it was being filmed for Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural’s YouTube page. It was an eclectic group with different styles that became one for a few wonderful minutes.
While they jammed with 2 guitars, two of them rapping and I was sitting on a cajón being my sheepish self, I was suddenly given the chance to sing. Now for those that don’t know (most of you) I don’t rap. It was sort of terrifying for me to open my mouth and let whatever is on my mind come out, whatever is on my lips escape and make beautiful poetry. I was filled with joy and energy, a conversation Rah, Cesar and I had earlier about spirits surrounding us and positive energy came in to me and it must have been a spirit that spoke cuz it was not me, I opened my mouth and lyrics came out, spontaneous and raw, terrifying yet liberating. I could feel everyone’s energy surrounding me with their music, I was filled with a special joy in my spirit that wanted to be liberated. And there I was, free styling lyrics on the spot with the freestylers.
I cannot describe the feeling. It was totally out of my comfort zone but when I was done singing or reciting (don’t ask what I said cuz I still have no idea!) I felt that I had released some demons, I had released some dark spirits or negativity that was rooted deep inside my soul. The little voice that tells me that I cannot sing escaped. I know I have the music in me, the music heals me and when I’m part of it, while we were creating music there’s an even more intimate and raw energy that I had released. I think I might have said something about exorcizing my demons out and, the moment I said it, they left my body, my insecurities and inhibitions. Suddenly I felt free and not trapped inside my words. I had gotten my voice back after so long.

The Bearded Lady

She came to the traveling circus one hot summer day. All she had was a caged blue jay and a suitcase. Nobody knew where she came from or where she was going and, upon seeing the Ringmaster, she decided to become a permanent resident.

She stroke me as beautiful. Always wearing her pin stripped suit and a blouse, always dressed to impress. Her blond hair cut short, hidden under her hat. Her facial hair was always a work of art, she twirled her mouthstache is so many different ways and her beard hang low below her breasts. Very quiet and introverted, she never crossed two words with any of the other performers, instead she would only come out her trailer once the tent was put up and everyone was in place for the grand opening. Only then she’d come out, hang her blue jay cage and sit on her comfy armchair under a pink umbrella that shielded her from the sun, a Bloody Mary with her celery stick on one hand and her newspaper on the other. She just read all day as people walked past her in awe of her facial hair. She never noticed them, even they they pointed and called her a freak of nature.
I pretended not to noticed her beard as I stretched out for my upcoming performance. There I was, twisted body as a pretzel, my feet over my head and my neck facing up the clear blue sky. I noticed she was staring back at me. She didn’t turn her head when our eyes met, she had this confident and reassuring stare that would make any person flinch. Not me. I only saw a beautiful woman admiring my body from a distance, with a pipe in her mouth and peeping from behind her newspaper.
One day she got up her armchair and walked towards me. My heart skipped a beat as I noticed she was heading my way, with a confident stride that any man would envy. Stroking her beard, she had stopped at a close distance, cracked a Mona Lisa smile that would melt an iceberg. She then took my hand and gave it a gentlemen’s kiss, not taking her sight off me for a split second. She stood up tall and uttered, in a sweet and calm tone of voice: “How do you do, ma’am? You can call me Ishmael”.

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Under the Sheets

Italo's (Other) Corner

Under these sheets I feel safe. This quiet time in the morning that’s all yours and mine. The day hasn’t even started yet but I have the best time under these sheets lying next to you. I hear you breathing next to me. You sleep while my mind wonders. I wish it could always be this quiet, be this good.
Under these sheets, there’s no other place I’d rather be than here with you where our bodies’ heat shields us from the morning chill, where our bodies intertwine while the traffic outside jams. The whole world can be a pandemonium but I don’t care ’cause under the sheets I feel like it’s heaven on Earth.
My mind is at ease, my pulse below normal. I could just reach my arm out under these sheets and feel your skin, hairy skin that drives me crazy. Touching your skin make my blood…

View original post 115 more words

Viva Las Vegas

I must have spent about an hour playing with Splice, an app that let’s you create a video with your pictures. Very cool stuff. I’ve always wanted to edit my own videos and now it’s within my reach. I titled it Viva Las Vegas and features pictures my boyfriend and I took on our last trip to Vegas a few weeks ago. My creative side soars this morning and I’m very proud of my baby!
Looking back at the pictures made me realize why I love taking pictures in the first place. There is a nostalgic quality to them and I certainly need constant reminders of my getaways and picture myself on those places.
Although our last trip to Las Vegas was not the best vacation I could have imagined for us since I was in one of my stupid little moods, now I can appreciate why I love that place: the excess, the exuberance, the extravavanza among other spectacular spots and shows that I took for granted while I was there. Thanks to these pictures I can now revisit these places in my mind and picture myself there in the middle of the Bellagio garden or Beatles’ Love at the Mirage or the Venice canals at the Venetian.