Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Welcome back

From the Daily News:

It's the coldest day of the year in New York City, around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, but John Leguizamo doesn't mind.

The 46-year-old actor, whose third solo show on Broadway, "Ghetto Klown," begins previews Monday, is just excited to walk around his childhood neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens.

After all, it has been 11 years since the fast-talking actor, best known for his movie roles in "Carlito's Way" and "Summer of Sam," has returned to the predominantly immigrant community that raised him until the age of 19 and inspired much of his self-reflective work like "Ghetto Klown."

"I moved to Jackson Heights from Bogotá, Colombia, when I was 3½," says Leguizamo, who now lives with his wife and two children in the West Village. "I don't know how much is reality and how much is imagination, but I remember coming from a really bright, sunny place with a lot of white buildings and colorful attractions to this dark and cold area. But, in time, I grew to love it."

"This neighborhood formed me," he says through teeth that neither Hollywood nor Broadway ever bothered straightening. "It was a transitional neighborhood. People were just trying to make it and get out as fast as they could. But this was where I developed my sense of humor and discovered what I liked and didn't like."

"We used the word 'rumble' a lot back then," says Leguizamo as he strolls toward the 89th St. park where he used to hang out with friends. "There were a lot of gangs and they were always fighting over honor or something like that. They'd use chains, nunchucks and switchblades, but no guns."


So he calls himself a "Ghetto Klown", talks about gangs in the area and says it was full of people who couldn't wait to get out. According to some people, this other Jackson Heights doesn't exist and its all about the food. I'm guessing Mr. Leguizamo didn't grow up in the garden apartments...

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Both John and Gene Simmons and his mom Flora lived in the same corner apt building went to PS-145

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah? Ron Jeremy's dad live in my neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Jackson Heights and I don't know what this guy is talking about.

Anonymous said...

my wife and i would see two feature movies at the "POLK THEATER" on 90th street @37th avenue,during the 1960's, and listen to Bobby Hackett play his trumpet at the "MONTCLAIRE SUPPER CLUB.

then they made the theater into a porn house....and that section became too sleazy to visit.

Anonymous said...

The only "gangs" that were around back then were just cliques of guys hanging around in local parks, drinking beer, smoking pot and listening to Led Zeppelin. They got into occasional fights with one another, but they were far from rumbles. For the most part, they kept to themselves, and had verl little, if any, effect on the day to day quality of life in Jackson Heights. They were nothing like the local ethnic gangs we have now, just wannabes. This guy Leguizamo is talking out of his ass, trying to make Jackson Heights of the 70's and 80's look more ghetto than it really was.

Anonymous said...

um, maybe you guys were from different cliques? I remember the fear of walking down the streets of JH and Corona in the 70's & 80's.(well, only to '84 when we got the hell out of there!)

Queens Crapper said...

I remember being a very young child and listening to the radio in the car as my mom drove us to school and hearing reports of stabbings, killings, etc. in a place called Jackson Heights and wondering where that was.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about street gangs out there but didn't they used to have Colombian machine gunners out there doing hits on rivals cartels in broad daylight.

Anonymous said...

I remember him when he went to IS 145, I used to see both him and Lucy Liu (145 Alum as well) at Giannis Pizzeria on 82nd and Northern. Gianni's was a great place to hang out it. Gene Simmons also went to 145 as did Eric Holder.

Anonymous said...

Jackson Heights was the first place in Queens where white parents and black parents clashed in the 1960's over black kids being bussed into Jackson Height's public schools.

A little history: in the 1960's, Jackson Heights was very white and very Jewish. Walking through Jackson Heights now, it might be very hard to imagine the scene in the 1970's when little John L was walking around JH.

Besides the Polk, there was the Jackson, and the Earle.

Blabs said...

Ron Jeremy? Please send him to me!

Anonymous said...

Yes I believe Leguizamo is fulla shit or his publicist is uup t something !
From what I remember Gene said a wile back the Leguizamo's were one of the first not only young but Hispanic family's to get into the Garden Apt building's.

Gene Simmons was a PS 145 (PS as it was called back then) student who came back as a teacher out of college. JH was turning to total hell
He lasted 3 months in the 70's wanting to "kill all the little pricks" woke up one morning said NO_MORE and quit.
He then formed a band "Wicked Lester" that later became KISS made $$ and got his mother out.

Genes mom now lives in Manhasset off Shelter Rock, its the neatest house well maintained high ranch on the block. She constantly brags about Gene and carry's his photo everyplace.

Claudia said...

Such a down to earth guy who never forgets where he's from! Thank you for representing Latinos!

Anonymous said...

The Cloumbians started popping up around the late 70's and the drug dealing got bad during the 80's. The problems were confined to certain areas though, particularly around portions of Roosevelt Avenue. Despite its rapid degeneration and its infamy as a drug den, Jackson Heights in the 1970's was still far from the war zone that the likes of Leguizamo seem to want to portray it as.

Deke DaSilva said...

Thank you for representing Latinos!

If you consider this guy the archetype Latino, then you and your people are in big trouble!

Anonymous said...

Sorry....not the way Jackson Heights was in the 70's. Maybe Corona.....

Anything for publicity.