News Column

Paul Rodriguez returns to Tucson with funny takes on shades of aging, erotica

October 24, 2013


Oct. 24--Paul Rodriguez hasn't read the best-selling erotica novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," but he can tell you how the story's antics would play out in the Latino community:

Not so much.

"You better not tie up your old lady, because once she gets loose, she's not going to think it was part of some (sexual) stimulus," he explained. "She's going to call the cops."

Playful spanking? Don't even think about it.

"She'll hit you back. ... Hitting her is not sexy; it's called assault and battery," he said during a phone interview from Los Angeles to chat about his first Tucson concert in a decade. "I've never heard of a Chicano in the barrio go to a judge and say, 'Your honor, we were just playing ... . What do you mean five years? I was trying to get her excited.' 'You tied her up and put her in your trunk.' 'That was part of it, your honor.'"

Rodriguez is taking his cue from E. L. James' wildly popular international best-seller with his "Fifty Shades of Brown Tour" or "How to Become a Lowfario On A Budget." Lowfario is a Latino "playa" on a budget, he explained. He talks about how Latino men would bungle any attempt to pull off the erotic stunts of James's fictitious seducer Christian Grey -- sometimes with grave consequences.

Would he ever consider writing the male version of that story? Not likely; he's too extroverted, he said. "My idea of kinky is turning the lights off."

"I can be in front of 1,000 people and yak for awhile, but on a one-on-one, I don't know what to say. When a woman tells me to talk or to say something (in bed), I take it literally: 'Well, I was born in a single house. My mom and dad were ...' 'Not that stupid! Talk to me sexy.' Then I go" -- and his voice drops a couple octaves to a sultry, baritone -- " 'Well I was born in a house.'

"It's a little bit of a Forrest Gump sort of thing. ... For me, talking is like, look I did all the talking I'm going to do. That's how I got you here. ... You're in this bed. I'm done talking."

But his show also explores another side of grey -- aging.

"I'm looking more and more like Elvis," said the 58-year-old comic.

He doesn't look physically like Elvis; his weight has remained his normal just-around-200-pound average.

"But now 50 of those pounds are around my neck," he deadpans. "It's a bad distribution of the weight. Sometimes it's a beer gut and sometimes it's swollen glands; I don't know.

"Actually I live with my own delusion. I'm still handsome, dammit," he said. "I hang around with very unattractive people so I can stand out."

He's even willing to dismiss the cruelty of living that dawns on you as you grow older.

"We don't like to look at ourselves as people who change because we are not aware of it but we are actually changing on a daily basis," he said. "That's why a high school haircut or hairdo frightens us so much. Ever look at your high school yearbook picture and go 'Oh my God, what was I thinking? My children better never see this.' "

His observations on age will serve him well in his next big adventure, a pilot for a sitcom he created that casts him as the son of Edward James Olmos, who is battling mild dementia. The two older men end up moving in with Rodriguez's character's son, to be played by Rodriguez's real son, 28-year-old professional skateboarder Paul "P-Rod" Rodriguez III

Rodriguez Sr. also appears in his horror film, "Gravy," due out Dec. 12. It also stars comedian Sarah Silverman and Gabourey Sidibe.

No, the movie is not a comedy; in fact, Rodriguez said filming "Gravy" was, at times, pretty scary.

"I die, seriously. It was really frightening, too," he said. "It's the way the killers play it. These are the first yuppie killers. ... You don't see this coming at all."


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