DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGA
interview and illustration by funk amphibian

ALL THE WORLD'S HER STAGE: BROADWAY, THE BIG SCREEN, AND EVEN THE OCCASIONAL CONCERT VENUE. DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGA GETS THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME, ANSWERING TO FUNK AMPHIBIAN'S DIRECTORIAL GUIDANCE.

funk: Youíre now in the Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Magenta. How does the audience respond to the stage version? Are they still chanting and throwing toast?

Daphne: There is no toast, water or rice because that can do damage to an actor due to slipping. Rice wonít work and toast is cumbersome. They replaced it with confetti. I do have to say though that heckling has elevated to high art. They donít chant, ďFuck that chin.Ē But they do chant, ďWhereís your fucking neck?Ē to the narrator as often as possible. Every time you say Brad itís, ďAssholeĒ, every time you say Janet itís--

f: "Slut."

D: Right. Itís like a merging with the film. The talk back varies from state to state. What they say in New York isnít what they say in Seattle. It can reach a level of confusion and often in the same night. Youíll hear all these random things they say in their town. Itís almost like, pardon the expression, a time warp going back into some medieval performing times. I can imagine the way it was when Shakespeare was doing his stuff. Whenever a person can come to a show and throw shit and say stuff, they are able to interact. I think originally theatre was interactive, until the classy folk told the audience to shut up. The Rocky Horror Picture Show isnít like a typical $85 dollar a ticket show,..even though they do charge $85 a ticket.

f: Columbus gets traveling Broadway shows, but itís tricky to get tickets because theyíre only here for a short time. It helps to have loads of cash or some high influence.

D: I donít think any blue-haired old ladies will buy Rocky Horror tickets when it comes to your town. Although they do clamor for Rent tickets.

f: Was that before all of the publicity?

D: (laughing) Nobody clamored for Rent before the publicity.

f: How did Rent change your life?

D: I could pay the rent! It sounds cheesy but itís absolutely true. Itís dead on. Before Rent I had a hard time making ends meet. You know: actor, New York, on your own. Put those together, plus being a girl, and itís kind of hard out there. It was a breakthrough for me. Nobody knew my name before, but now they may have heard of me. After your picture is in Newsweek, thatís your two seconds of fame.

f: Were you a fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

D: I was, but I wasnít mental about it. I wasnít dressing up and going every weekend, but I knew people who did. I remember one weekend my parents went out of town. I had a hissy fit and bribed my brother into seeing Rocky Horror. I guess I was about nine the first time I saw it. I was on my brotherís shoulders at the Waverly Theatre. The Waverly was infamous for the midnight Rocky Horror shows back in the day. It was outrageous. I wasnít really sure what it was about, but I loved the make-up, the costumes and the guy in heels. Tim Curry was unforgettable. I loved the music. But at that age I donít think I really got it.

f: Have you caught any unknowing suburban families rushing out because theyíre not ready to share that sex talk with their kids?

D: Yeah, Iíve seen it. Iíve seen families of four. Dad and the kids are having a blast and the mom is mortally offended and getting more pissed off by the second. Iíve seen it be a bonding experience for a dad and the kids, but the moms fly off the handle. Once, this woman left the theatre. The kids and the dad were like, ďGet the fuck out. Goodbye. Donít let the door hit you on the way out.Ē I thought, ďWow. Whatís going to go on at dinner later?Ē

f: A lot of fuss has been made over the sexual orientation of the Rocky cast. Whatís the big deal?

D: Well, you know Joan (Jett, who portrays Columbia) and I had something going. (laughs) No. Joan and I are very good friends, but nothing like that. I remember hearing rumors that Joan and I were making googly eyes at each other on stage. We were just having a lot of fun and acting. The real stories are backstage at the after parties with the guest narrators. New girls with new breasts and new noses doing new things to new narrators.

f: Whoa!

D: It gets pretty crazy at those parties.

f: Athletes are known for their superstitions, like not shaving during play-offs or wearing the same socks. Do you have any pre-show routines or superstitions?

D: Much to the chagrin of the house management, we all light candles in our dressing rooms. Itís a fire hazard, but, fuck it, theyíre cased in glass. I suppose you could call it a superstition, but itís more of a habit than anything.

f: You were a self-proclaimed club kid. Explain that to us ignorant cow-towners.

D: I was one of those kids that had to go out like it was a mission. I had to go to clubs. I had to roller skate. I had to be the last one to leave the club. But I didnít do it for too many years. You can devote your life to it, but I couldnít do that. I learned that there are doers and there are sayers that say they are doers. Some just pose their way through life. You ask yourself if you want to be a star or just a starfucker. A club kid is a starfucker. I decided to channel all of that energy more effectively.

f: In Flawless you worked with two of Hollywoodís top scene chewers: Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In three words, how was that experience?

D: I didnít get to work with Philip, but we are in the same theatre lab. Everything he does is special in my opinion. Working with De Niro in three words: rare, fun, hygienic.

f: Like compulsive-handwasher hygienic?

D: Letís just say that hygiene is good around Bob.

f: Who are your influences now and when you were young?

D: Madonna has always been an influence, for her absolute determination. Her drive and ability to reinvent herself is fascinating. Her ďIím going to do this and fuck you if you donít like itĒ attitude; I love and respect that about her, even at the risk of going overboard. I want to be able to have that bravery; to make mistakes and not implode in the face of it. Few people are able to do that.

f: Charlie Sheen did it.

D: I agree. I saw him on a talk show right after his rehab and he made light of it and moved on with his life. Even though they tried to put him on the spot about it he was like, ďThis is me. If you donít like it, fuck you. Itís my life and I donít need to apologize for shit.Ē You take what you can and try to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. As long as it tastes like chicken, right?

f: Exactly.

D: So, tastes like chicken. Is that in reference to everything tasting like chicken? Even iguana?

f: You could say that. But Iím not sure about iguana.

D: I thought it was a lesbian paper when I first heard about it.

f: Not really. But that would be a pretty crafty title if it were.

D: When I was little in my home country of Panama, I remember my Uncle Pedro driving his pick-up truck down this dirt road. He suddenly stopped the truck, jumped out with his machete and ran out into a field. All I saw was him hacking at something in the grass, but I couldnít see what it was. He came back to the truck with a six-foot long iguana. Iíll never forget it. I was only six. He said, ďDinner!Ē It scared the shit out of me. It was huge. To me it was like a dragon. I got really upset, so they told me we werenít going to eat it. But at dinner I think we were eating it. It was just stuff in sauce that I couldnít identify between a chicken wing or thigh of iguana. I had to be a man about it and take a bite. It all tastes like chicken.

f: So will you be going on celebrity Fear Factor?

D: Is that the ďI dare you to eat shitĒ show?

f: Yeah. They give you $50,000 to eat sheep eyes and bull testicles and do other crazy shit. If you win.

D: No, not me. Not for $50,000. For a record deal, maybe. God knows the things that people do for money. Like, here, eat this turd. Everyone has their price. Itís pathetic. The question is, what amount of happiness would drive you to eat shit? Security would drive me to eat shit. Actually, scratch that. I would never eat shit. Ever. But drinking piss is different.

f: What?

D: Itís an old belief that if you wash your face with your first morningís urine, youíll never have a wrinkle.

f: So I guess I donít need to ask what you do in the morning?

D: Iím 60 years old and look at me-- not one wrinkle. (laughing)

f: (laughing) Do you think Paul Reiser is a good slang term for an erection?

D: (laughing) Yes, I do. Itís better than morning wood.

f: That sounds too much like an air freshener.

D: (laughing) Like River Phoenix.

f: Do dogs have lips?

D: Yes, definitely. That purpley, brown, rubbery thing that hovers over their teeth. That's a lip.

f: Whatís in your CD player right now?

D: Linkin Park, Garbage and Chris Cornell. I love him. Iím looking forward to what heís doing with Rage Against The Machine.

f: What's next on your plate?

D: Getting my band to play outside of New York. Weíve been together for about a year now. Weíve been putting more time into writing songs. Itís rockíníroll that you can shake your ass to. Iím crowning with new ideas, but the shows make it hard to find time to get it all out. Doing eight shows a week and having a band is a sheer act of will. Itís a whole lot of fun, but it will tear the ass out of you. Films will hopefully come around and maybe another theatre turn.