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Living La Vida Leguizamo 

The charming and energetic comic John Leguizamo unleashes a solo show about getting laid

Wednesday, May 1 2002
A wise man (OK, Plato) once said, "The life which is unexamined is not worth living." By those standards, actor and comic John Leguizamo has lived a life worth his weight in gold. Most recognizable for his roles in Baz Luhrmann's films Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet, Leguizamo is also a seasoned veteran of the stage, where he has probed, mocked, and picked apart his life in three one-man shows -- Freak, Mambo Mouth, and Spic-O-Rama. It's surprising there's anything left to dissect in Sexaholix ... A Love Story, his fourth monologue.

Fans of his previous solo shows will recognize Leguizamo's hang-ups and dysfunctional family, but Sexaholix is less a visit to the shrink than it is a roll in the hay. As the title suggests, this love story is about getting laid. The charming Colombian and Puerto Rican performer doesn't shy away from his carnal desires or spare any details -- although the title refers not to an addiction but to the makeshift posse Leguizamo and his buddies started when they were rejected from a real street gang. Though the outspoken actor is less angry and political this time around, he's characteristically merciless in his imitations of former flames. No one is safe from his quick wit and sharp eye -- not his narcissistic ex-wife, a feminist older woman who schools him on sexual skills, nor his current girlfriend, whom he refers to as Teeny, his true love and the mother of his two children.

In the hands of a lesser player, some of Sexaholix's clichéd depictions of the gender divide could seem tired and contrived; for example, Leguizamo paints himself as the typical commitmentphobe unable to say, "I love you." But he's a natural storyteller, and what he says becomes less important than how he says it. His boundless energy and impressive stage presence don't translate as readily to the big screen, but onstage he's a blur, bumping and grinding to an impromptu salsa dance with a thrilled audience member; zipping through a cast of characters that includes his bickering grandparents, his gay uncle and lesbian aunt, and his macho, beer-swilling father, who tosses out valuable advice: "With women you have to be manly but show your feminine side. ... You have to be schizophrenic." Even painful memories are fodder for laughs. He turns a whipping from his mother into a choreographed hip hop routine, and when his father says, "You kids are nothing but little retarded midgets that live in my house and don't pay rent," Leguizamo doesn't miss a beat; he retorts, "I'm gonna be different, 'cause my kids are gonna pay rent."

The show -- and by extension Leguizamo -- calms down toward the end, when he finds some peace of mind through a committed relationship and newfound responsibility as a father. Of course, domesticity doesn't come without misgivings: Reliving the moment when he first held his newborn daughter, Leguizamo admits, "I realized that no matter what I did, I was gonna mess her up." --

About The Author

Lisa Hom


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