What Makes a Luna Tick?

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Cabaret, Comedy, Culture, Entertainment, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Theater, Theatre, Uncategorized

Entertainer Selene Luna (pronounced “seh-LEH-nay,” not “Celine” like Ms. Dion) can probably best be described as an astronomical bundle of talent packed into a surprisingly small parcel. Aside from her prowess as an actress, comedian and an impeccable burlesque artist, and her abundant charisma and star quality besides brilliant bawdiness, the lady stands barely four feet tall in heels. This, however, has never served as a deterrent; she’s delighted audiences throughout the nation and worldwide on stage as well as screens large and small, making notable appearances on Margaret Cho’s reality series The Cho Show. New Yorkers were treated to her delicious personage two seasons ago at the Laurie Beechman Theater as part of the cast of Whatever Happened to Busty Jane?, devised by and starring drag legend Jackie Beat along with Nadya Ginsberg, Mario Diaz and Sam Pancake, and audiences will once again be delighted by her talents in the one-woman extravaganza Special Needs: An Evening of Comedy with Selene Luna on Saturday, March 31st at 9:30 PM, also at the Beechman (407 West 42nd Street at the West Bank Cafe). And though she’s one of the hardest-working women in showbiz, she found the time to grant The Andrew Martin Report a brief interview before leaving Los Angeles for the Big Apple.

ANDREW MARTIN: Can you give us an idea of what your childhood was like? Not just as a so-called ‘little person,’ but also as a Mexican-American?

SELENE LUNA: I come from a working-class Mexican immigrant family, and my being little on top of that only created extra challenges for the family, so it was pretty tough. My parents were the hardest-working, most sacrificial people I’ve ever known. We went without a lot but never needed anything.

AM: Did you always want to be an entertainer? What was your first experience on stage? How have you evolved since that time?

SL: At age five I had already decided that I belonged on stage. I knew I’d always be stared at because of my stature, so I figured on stage people would have to stare at me on my terms. My first experience on stage was when I was about seven years old, at the Christmas pageant for the Catholic Catechism school my siblings and I were forced to attend. I played the North Star, and found the experience thrilling, but I didn’t really pursue it until much later in life. Every performance is an on-going evolution.

AM: Were you always this naturally funny? Do you come from a family of funny people?

SL: I learned very early in life that in order to avoid being bullied, I would have to entertain people. I was always a bit goofy; I was just trying to survive, but I had fun doing it. My parents loved comedy, they were huge fans of cats like Richard Pryor and Robin Williams; they frequented the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. My parents also encouraged my siblings and I to put on little shows in our living room. However, I did get in trouble for one of my living room performances. I must’ve been eight, I put on my mom’s red marabou robe, called myself a “Hooker” and tried telling jokes about PCP, which mortified my parents. I’d seen “hookers” on Hollywood Boulevard, but didn’t understand what they did, and certainly had no clue what PCP was. My act was too racy for the living room. For the most part, my family is very low-key, but they all have a great sense of humor; I can be twisted with them.

AM: How did you come to hook up with the Busty Jane crowd (Jackie, Nadya, Pancake, Mario, Drew Droege, etc)?

SL: We were all hooked up with each other long before Busty Jane. We’re long-time friends who frequently work together in various capacities.

AM: What are your hopes for the new show?

SL: Throughout my childhood, I was told that I was “special needs”, but I never understood what that meant. All I knew was that I was really short and people were touchy about it. As an adult, I came to realize that people’s awkwardness around my stature is in itself their “special need”. In my show, I hope to convey that at some point or another we all have special needs.

AM: You received some attention recently for your letter to Rosie O’Donnell for her outspoken opinion about ‘little people.’ Did that accomplish anything significant? Conversely, what are your thoughts now that her show has been canceled?

SL: I responded publicly to Rosie’s dim comments about little people because I wanted the opposing point of view to get the same amount of air time, and I got it. After a series of Tweets back and forth between Rosie and me, she apologized and was a class-act about it, so we’re fine. Showbiz is a very difficult and cryptic business, so I do not find pleasure in any show being canceled. It’s tough out there.

AM: Where does Selene Luna see herself five years from now?

SL: Living in a mushroom, and taking hot baths in a walnut shell.

Audiences can’t be urged more strongly to come out of their own shell and experience La Luna. See you there!

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