Victor Hugo said that Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. Within the Filipino circle, there is a group gaining increasing popularity and following, very visible in most Filipino events and concerts, and headlining their own shows bringing laughter and fun to their audience. This group is The Girls of Crazy Sexy Cool (GCSC).
The GCSC is a trio of transgender performers: Isabella Araneta-Marquez, Jerome Salvador Weissbach in real life, a retail manager with Guess; Mimi Flowers, aka John Cabarrus who works in Hospitality at the Matrix Hotel; and V'gina Grande, aka Juven Paul Somcio, also a retail manager in another Guess location. Isabella and Mimi met about four years ago while doing individual guestings, and then formed the group The Girls of Crazy Sexy Cool as a comedy and singing act at the Panciteria de Manila, with the prodding of Bayani Alcantara. The trio then consisted of Isabella, Mimi and Megan Starr (by Jerome Martinez, who has since returned to Manila, and replaced by V'gina Grande).
"Dying is easy, comedy is hard" is a popular quote with actors. With this group, not only do they face the challenge of making people laugh but simultaneously hurdle issues of prejudice on their gender orientation and subsequently, their capabilities. The GCSC was initially formed as a way of having fun and as a form of personal expression. After a couple of years, this objective evolved into gaining more popularity and fame. But lately, it has transformed into an altruistic objective of bestowing joy, respite and a sense of affinity with their audience. And it is this latter purpose that propels them to forge ahead, taking into stride the negative perceptions and viewing every critical comment as a chance to improve, to focus on the positive aspects and to remain true and authentic to their passion and identified calling.
To the outsider, it may seem to be all fun and games for this trio. But cognizant of the difficulty they have hurdled individually and as a group, and in anticipation of impending challenges to attain bigger dreams, they work hard. Show or no show, they have committed to meeting at least twice a week to brainstorm, practice their songs and choreography, and work on their styling to fine tune their acts. Their lives rotate around the GCSC so much that the daily encounters are now a source for their acts where an observation, a simple event or a thoughtless remark is immediately jotted down and worked as a spin-off or punchline for future acts. They are serious with their craft, and they aim to be taken seriously as performers. Their journey of four years has taken them beyond their expectations - from individual guestings as a hobby, to becoming fillers then regular front acts for shows, and finally, headlining their own shows and touring these shows. They are surprised by their popularity, of being recognized in public places, and are deeply touched by their audience's heartfelt regard of them, relayed face to face or via social media.
However remarkable these achievements are to them though, they are unanimously grateful for the intangible benefits they derive from the group. For the GCSC is not just an entertainment act for them, but a sisterhood as well. They bond both as performers and as their regular selves. Their work process is one of collaboration and reinforcement. Each brings in their own expertise and personality - Isabella, the non-singer, is the host and business strategist who loves being the shock factor of the group; V'gina, who is the youngest, is the dancer and rap artist who loves urban pop fashion; and Mimi, is the belter, the experienced singer and eternal optimist, who loves nature tripping. They are co-workers but more importantly, they are friends. The group is close knit and has become a supportive avenue in their personal journey, for self-exploration, self-validation and self-empowerment.
And now, fortified and sustained, they dare to dream on. They aspire to be regarded as professional artists by learning more of the technical aspects of their craft; to be instrumental in the understanding of gender roles and stereotyping by using their own stories in their acts; and to be a positive example of self-discovery, of persistence and overcoming challenges.
Like the two masks of theatre, I have discovered through my onstage and offstage encounters with them, that The Girls of Crazy Sexy Cool is a study of contrasts. They are timid but at the same time bold. Insecure yet courageous. Humble in their approach and proud in their accomplishments. All these translate into being strong enough to make themselves vulnerable, and to overcome hurdles to come out stronger - traits that are respectable and admirable. With their costumes and make-up, they command a powerful presence. But behind the mask, in person, they capture you with their personal stories of resilience. Yes, these are The Girls of Crazy Sexy Cool. They are daring enough to be crazy, confident enough to feel sexy and smart enough to be cool.
This was published in the January 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.