BY SARAH TEREZ ROSENBLUM
As you know, crushes are my purpose, my sustenance, my raison d’etre (that’s French for grape). Succor for my vacant soul, they distract me from daily hardships.
Standing room only on the Clark bus? Jewel’s out of sandwich meat? Facebook won’t let me sign in? With my crushes to bolster me, these trials, though agonizing, can be endured. November’s crush is particularly potent, necessary as the days grow short and Seasonal Deficit Disorder sets in. Playwright, performer and co-founder of Hell in a Handbag Productions, David Cerda, first drew my unblinking attention as Lt. Betty Blitzen in "Silent Night of the Lambs,” Hell in a Handbag’s 2009 Christmas show.
Since then I’ve been delighted to spot him (purely accidentally of course) at a range of benefits, street fests and theatrical productions. Captivating in drag or out, Cerda is a sort of two for one obsession: dapper man and classy dame.
Name: David Cerda
Hometown: Hammond, Ind.
Profession: Writer/Performer/Corporate Slave
Hobbies: I have no time for ‘hobbies.’
Our Town Hell-in-a-Handbag Productions is dedicated to pop culture parody. What intrigues you about spoofing films, celebrities, icons, etc?
David Cerda I love taking something from our collective memory, an icon or story I adore, and twisting it up into my own point of view. Paying tribute to it MY way. Honoring the subject and educating all of the kiddies who may not be aware this person or story even existed. Too many people, including the gay culture just settle for what’s shoved down their throats by the mass media. There’s more to life then Wicked and Lady Gaga.
OT Drag: art form or just fun?
DC For me it’s a way to present my art. I wouldn’t be doing it if I couldn’t channel the great movie dames onstage through my or other people’s words as an actress. I did the lip synching thing when I was younger and performing for shots and drunks got tired. I have fun when I perform but the drag is just one piece of the puzzle. A gorgeous piece.
OT As co-founder of your band, “The Joans” you’ve given Joan Crawford a new life as a rock star. Whatever possessed you?
DC Joan possessed me.
OT What’s your favorite thing about performing as Crawford?
DC Oh, you name it. The clothes, the make-up, the attitude. It feels very natural for me. Joan worked her ass off and created her own niche, and I think that’s why I relate to her; that’s what I’ve had to do. The Goodman and Steppenwolf aren’t knocking at my door, and that’s fine. Channeling Joan is very empowering. There should be Joan Crawford retreats where you can help cope with life’s everyday struggles through Joan.
OT Describe your perfect day
DC Having a great idea and following up on it. Creating something fantastic with people I love and respect. Making someone laugh. Hanging out with my sweetie and ten nieces and nephews and being the Silly Uncles.
OT Relationship Deal breaker?
DC Neediness. And ugly feet.
OT Who was your first crush?
DC Julie Newmar as Cat Woman in the Batman TV series.
OT Why are you crushworthy?
DC I am much too modest to answer this.
OT Any questions for me?
DC How on earth did you acquire such extraordinary taste?
Photo by Rick Aguilar
David Cerda is a Chicago based playwright and performer whose plays have been produced around the country. His band, “The Joans,” perform Nov. 5 at the Jackhammer Chicago. Cerda also created the Camp Midnight series at the Music Box Theatre with Richard Knight as Dick O’Day. Camp Midnight celebrates beloved cult films in an interactive environment. On Nov. 20 Cerda will screen “Valley of the Dolls” with an appearance by the film’s star, Academy Award winning actress Patty Duke.
A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually.