Buen Provecho 

Amor in a bottle, Cuban-style

Barbarita Perales wanted to alleviate all the calamities in the world. She wanted to stem the tide of US imperialism and cure President Bush of his unyielding God complex. She wanted to open a space for love, tenderness, and femininity in the political domain — you know, like Oprah. All she needed was some kind of alchemical solution. Perales marinated on it for a while, then had an epiphany. Why not extract "amor cubano" from the Cubans? It seemed like a no-brainer.

For the uninitiated, amor cubano is Spanish for that magical libidinous power that's shared by all Cubans, making them the greatest lovers in the world. It comes in bottles, tubes, or small packets, exported from the Department of Amor Cubano Extractions in Cuba, which functions like a blood bank. (Some of the more enterprising Cubans — Barbarita's father among them — donate amor every week). It has natural mellowing agents that leverage against the ego. It kicks the ass of Viagra.

Cuban-American playwright Maceo Cabrera Estévez came up with amor cubano as a linchpin for her new mixed-media play of the same name. Structured as a bilingual infomercial for the imaginary product, the play stars Estévez as the infectious Barbarita, plus six actors offering testimonials, and another four who appear on video. Amor Cubano debuts Thursday, November 15, as part of La Peña Cultural Center's annual Hecho en Califas Festival, which kicks off November 10 at 9 p.m. with performances by the Latin groove band Upground and San Francisco ska outfit, La Muñeca y los Muertos. Running through November 18, Hecho en Califas features music, theater, spoken word by renowned local poets Yosimar Reyes and the Getback Crew, and a roundtable discussion on art and activism. Most events cost $10-$12. For a full schedule, visit LaPena.org

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