Friday, February 04, 2011

Colombia: Laisa in SoHo

"Guess who this is?" asks Colombia's SoHo magazine on it's fold-out triptych cover for it's February edition.  The cover images were unveiled today in advance of the magazine hitting the streets next week but they are already raising all sort of ruckus on Twitter where the relatred hashtag #laisaensoho has shot up to the number 1 spot on the trending topics for Colombia today.

A second cover shot, which unveils the woman behind the mystery but is racier than the one above, below the fold...

I have mentioned SoHo magazine before ("The sacred femine, Opus Dei and liberty of expression in Colombia").  I don't think there is anything comparable to it in the United States although you could say it fits between MAXIM and Playboy, if either of those magazines aimed for a high-class clientele.

And because it does attract high-class readership, the magazine is seen as being more respectable Playboy which means it also attracts some of the top Colombian models and actresses for their pictorials.

The big bru-ha-ha this time comes not from the nudity in itself but from the identity of the woman who has chosen to pose for the magazine: Actress Endry Cardeño who became a sensation in 2006 when she played the role of Laisa Reyes on a Colombian soap opera called "Los Reyes".

At the time, I wrote a fawning piece on her performance and the fact that Endry was the first transgender woman to be cast on a national Colombian television soap opera playing the role of a transgender woman (this was a year before Candis Cayne broke that barrier in the United States and played Carmelita on the now canceled ABC show "Dirty Sexy Money").

As I said in that previous entry, Cardeño stole the show as Laisa.  She was a true revelation in terms of her acting skills and comedic chops and, if she had been any other actress, she would have probably gone on to have a stellar career on Colombian television.

Instead, when "Los Reyes" ended, Cardeño found herself as the personality of the year, but without of a job or any additional acting offers.  She returned to acting in 2009 when she starred in a well-reviewed movie from Venezuela called "Cheila... Una Casa Pa'Maita" but that was an exception to the rule.

In an interview on W Radio tonight SoHo editor Daniel Samper Ospina said that it had been a pleasure to feature Cardeño in the magazine and that he hoped that the exposure as it were would translate into new opportunities for Cardeño.  Interviewed earlier in the same broadcast, Cardeño said she would be happy if she was able to raise enough money to open her own hairdressing salon in Bogotá.

On Twitter, the magazine cover has brought out the best and worst in Colombian Twitterers.  Many people, mostly men, have reacted in disgust and have threatened to boycott the magazine or cancel their subscriptions.  Others have applauded the editorial decision to feature Cardeño on the cover and have thanked Samper through his Twitter account (@DanielSamperO).

Interestingly, most of the guys who are complaining say that they didn't subscribe to a gay magazine, refusing to see anything but a man when they look at the images.  Some of the reactions go as far as saying that the images make them want to puke.

But others are rightly pointing out that the reaction opens up a discussion on how homophobic and transphobic Colombian culture still remain despite some advances in LGBT rights.


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