The Original Latin Divas of Comedy was conceived as a follow-up to 2002′s The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, which was produced by Valls’ manager, Scott Montoya. Montoya directed and produced the Divas version, and Valls was thrilled to be working alongside Marilyn Martinez, Sara Contreras and Monique Marvez, women she admires and respects. Then she found about the dress code.
"A week before the taping, Scott told me, ‘You’re going to have to wear a gown,’" Valls said. "First of all, look at me: Me and gowns don’t go together. Just because it says ‘divas,’ I don’t have to wear a gown. The Latin Kings of Comedy didn’t have to wear a crown or capes."
Montoya wasn’t happy about her plan to rent a tuxedo, but when Valls showed up that night in a rented zoot suit, he thought she looked great. "Now every time I do something," Valls said, "he asks, ‘Are you going to rent that tuxedo?’ Straight men, what do they know?"
She continued: "He mentioned that I had femmed it up, and I said, ‘Of course I femmed it up.’ I’m a tweener, a flip-flopper; I’m not too butchy, not too femmey. That’s why it’s hard to find a girlfriend. I’m an indoor dyke. I hate getting sweaty. I will not play sports. This dyke don’t hike. But I’ll do many indoor activities that you’ll absolutely love — don’t even worry! I’m physically fit — indoors."
Valls enjoys representing the LGBT community and breaking stereotypes when performing her act in straight clubs. She does a similar thing when performing in predominantly white clubs. "I talk about Latino stuff, like not all Latinos are dishwashers," she said. "And I can look and be as pale as you and still be Latino."
She was particularly moved by the response to the Divas show. In addition to the usual "You were hilarious, I loved your show" kinds of emails, she received many poignant letters acknowledging her visibility as an out Latina performer.
"I got emails saying, ‘You helped me to come out to my parents,’ and ‘you’ve inspired me,’" Valls recalled.
"I even got one from a woman with cancer who said I made her week bearable. I wasn’t prepared for such a great response … I recently became Buddhist, and I’ve been praying, not so much for my career to be successful but to make a difference, to give back to the community. One of my goals is to represent the LGBT community and Latinos and women, and to make a difference, not just be funny."
When it comes to one of the most prominent examples of Latina lesbians in pop culture, The L Word, Valls admitted that she had some issues with the show. "I don’t relate to them," she said. "They’re not believable. For example, Shane — that’s no f—ing butch. Get a real butch up there … and you don’t cheat on Carmen, you cheat with Carmen."
Valls also found some shortcomings with The L Word‘s Latina characters, Papi and Carmen. "Why does the Latino have to be the whore?" she asked. "And Carmen, she’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. It’s crazy that they couldn’t find a Latina actress in L.A. I can think of five right now. Of course they can cast a Latina actress. Any Latina for God’s sake, there’s Puerto Ricans, Mexicans…"
Valls said the L Word characters aren’t the kind of women she’d want to hang around with in real life (with the exception of Alice!), so she’s not interested in watching them. Overall, though, she said: "I love that the show is on, that a show that like this was made. I think it’s an important step, but I didn’t love it."
She does support The L Word in part because "it’s great to have our own show," and she also encouraged the gay community to support out LGBT entertainers.
"It’s still a challenge to be a gay stand-up," she explained. "The more support you can give LGBT entertainers who represent, the more visibility we’ll have and the more empowered we’ll be."
For more on Sandra Valls, visit her MySpace page.