COCO PERU | Life is a South Beach CABARET
by Herb Sosa
April 10 at 8:00pm to April 11 at 9:15pm
The Cabaret South Beach
233 12th St, Miami Beach, Florida 33139
How and when was Coco Peru born? Did she evolve, or
was she clearly who we see today?
There were a few things that all came together that helped
create Coco. One was that I had gone to Peru with my
Peruvian boyfriend at the time and I met a drag queen
named Coco, and what intrigued me was that Coco was
very famous in a very, at that time, homophobic country.
Having been shamed all my life for being an effeminate boy,
here I was seeing someone embrace all that I was taught to
squash inside myself, and this Coco was being celebrated
on television by a society where gay bars were hidden. I had
a sense seeing the Peruvian Coco that she understood that
unleashing your source of shame was courageous and
empowering and people respond in a positive way to that
courage and truth. Also, at the time, AIDS was hitting NYC
hard and I wanted to be an activist but I was too intimidated
to join Act Up, so I figured I could be political and make
change by embracing what I had been taught to hate about
myself and give voice to it. I also always knew that I wanted
to be a performer so I figured Coco would satisfy my need to
entertain and at the same time give me the voice I wanted
as an activist.
So, in a way, Coco is who she was all those years ago
when I created her, although I think I’ve become a better
Your list of accolades is impressive, but Girls will be Girls
and Trick… always stand out. What are your memories
of being involved in these projects? What did you enjoy the most, and what could you have done without?
Well, both of these films changed my life. In Trick I got to do what I do onstage: a monologue. I was especially lucky because the writer
was generous enough to let me rewrite that monologue in my own voice. With GWBG, I was lucky to work with two wonderful actors, Jeff
Roberson (Varla Jean Merman) and Jack Plotnick (Evie Harris). The thing I realized on set was that we were all fans of each other and
so we all respected each other and I think that shows in the film. I do remember that I was very insecure the first few days because I
realized I was playing the sort of unfunny character, but I decided to play it all for real and be as honest as I could and when I finally saw
the film I was so happy that, despite my fears of not being funny, I did play it honestly.
Storyteller/monologist Miss Coco Peru aka Clinton Leupp got his/her start as
a downtown favorite in the cabaret world of NY after he wrote, produced,
directed, and starred in his first show “Miss Coco Peru in My Goddamn
Cabaret” 20 years ago.
What advice would you give a young(er) Coco, starting out in the business? What is a must, and what should one avoid at all cost?
I would remind my younger self that time is precious and that I am capable of pushing past my fears.
I was trained in the theatre in college and one thing that I was taught and that is a must for me is that you respect the people you are
working with. I don’t understand people who have a need to crate unnecessary drama. Also, you MUST show up on time!!! I guess the
one thing that people should avoid at all costs is the need to be famous for the sake of being famous. I think the driving force is that you
should want to be a creative person for the sake of creating and making the world a little more beautiful.
What should your South Florida fans expect from your visit to the Cabaret on Miami Beach?
I am doing a “best of” show celebrating 25 years of Coco Peru! So, they should expect some of the older monologues that put me on the
map in NYC all those years ago and some new stuff as well. I think the evening is a wonderful representation of what it is I have been
trying to do for the last quarter of a century. Where did that time go????
On screen, Miss Coco is best known for her roles in Jim Fall's Fineline
feature film, trick (Sundance 1999) and Richard Day's IFC feature length
comedy Girls Will Be Girls.(Sundance 2002) For this film Coco shared the
Best Actress Award with his two co-stars Jeffery Roberson and Jack Plotnick
at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen as well as the Best Actor Award
at Outfest Film Festival. Other film appearances include To Wong Foo,
Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Nick and Jane, and Straight-Jacket.
Coco can be heard in the Disney animated feature, The Wild as Mamma
Hippo! Coco has appeared in follow-up Girls Will Be Girls short films,
recreating her role from that now cult film on the small, small screen also
known as the internet, and in the spring of 2011, Coco completed filming Girls
Will Be Girls 2, a sequel to the original.
3 things Coco NEVER leaves the house without?
Lip balm, phone, and Halls Honey-Lemon Throat Drops! I just love them like candy!
If Coco Peru were a fragrance, what would it smell like?
Like a sexy Cougar queen from the Bronx on a beautiful Miami Beach at sunset surrounded by hot Latino men dripping in Coconut oil…
with a splash of lime! I have no idea what that would smell like but I like the image!
Where do you, and Coco, want to be in 10 years?
Retired on a beach in Spain with my Spanish husband eating as much food as I want! As far as Coco is concerned, she will be stored
away somewhere where a younger queen may find her someday and wonder, “Who was this? And how did she try to make the world
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