Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Lovato.
Dan, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
The most valuable thing any artist possesses is a point of view. I’m a non-binary, queer, and mixed-race Latinx performer. I grew up in a not-so-nice part of Denver. I was too blanquito for the brown kids and too brown for the white kids, so I was always from the wrong side of the tracks. Stack on top of that a queer sexual identity as well as a queer gender identity and you’ve got easy prey as far as kids are concerned. Resilience was a trait I developed early and cultivated for most of my life.
I started my life as an artist with music, playing trumpet because my mom told me my arms were too short for trombone. I was at peace with never feeling like a rockstar until I started doing theater–specifically speech and debate. I would get treated like trash all week at school, and then I’d get up on a Saturday morning at 5 AM, put on a suit, and walk into a different world: a place where kids like me could perform competitively and stand onstage to be declared champions. How could I not get hooked?
I majored in Theater at Whitman College with a big focus on performance and queer theory; during my time in Walla Walla, I performed in various productions around town, taught Shakespeare to kids in rural areas, and organized/MC’d burlesque drag shows to benefit the community, primarily the Walla Walla YWCA Women’s Shelter. My Walla Walla theater family taught me the value of community and the power of effective community building.
And now, I’m here in LA, studying at the Stella Adler Art of Acting Studio to hone my craft, having a blast, and trying to perform whenever I can.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I’m a poet and a performer. When I was growing up, I never felt represented on stage or on screen–I still don’t. I want to be a trailblazer for kids who are growing up like me right now. I want some queer brown kid in a crappy part of Denver to see my work and know that their point of view is valid, that their voice matters.
I believe in poetry as a form of recovery, and performance as a form of self-care. The power of performance wielded properly can influence a perspective, can create space for change. Performance has empowered me to use my voice as a means of instigating the change I want to see, to cultivate the community I want to be a part of. Performance gives people a way to put words on a feeling, to gain enough clarity to name their demons and have power over them. I believe in the dual role of the artist to be both activist and archivist; we as artists have an obligation to engage with our communities, especially in these troubled times.
I want people to walk away from my performances with a new perspective. I want other artists, especially poets, to know that you can be so much more than your trauma. I want other people who grew up feeling different, bullied, and ashamed to know that those parts of yourself you tried to hide are the sources of your power. I mostly just want people to listen, to be present, to connect. A laugh or a poetry snap wouldn’t hurt either.
How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
So many folks are in such a hurry to be famous or to be wildly successful, but with the exception of a few unbelievably lucky individuals, that isn’t going to be the case. Failure is a necessary component to success, and conflict is an opportunity to learn. Sometimes the best thing someone can do is to listen; you don’t always need to be proving yourself to everybody all the time. That being said, success is the intersection of preparation and opportunity; the only way to create opportunity is to put in the work.
I see so many unbelievably talented people throw in the towel because they expected things to be easy. It sounds so preachy, but if you’re in this to get famous, do something else. It isn’t always fun, it isn’t always glamorous; it’s work. The world already doesn’t take a lot of artists seriously; don’t give them an excuse to do the same to you because you didn’t do the work. The biggest challenge facing artists in LA, in my limited experience, is the fact that the community is so hard to find in this city. Strong communities make strong artists. Strong communities are what make doing the work worth it. I’ve been lucky enough to find community and belonging at various poetry venues around the city, especially Da Poetry Lounge. Find your people, know your worth, and do the work. Know that there are so many other folks just like you who are going through it too, and there is a whole world out there waiting to hear what you have to say.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
As of the time of this writing, my next big thing is a 15-minute set for @SadBitchPoetryCollective in Long Beach, CA on January 25th, 2020.
I am available for weekend bookings as well as daytime bookings during the week. (TheRealPastiche@gmail.com)
If you’d like to keep up with my queer adventures in LA, follow me (@PasticheQueen) on Instagram.
Otherwise, catch me at Da Poetry Lounge on Tuesday nights either reading or witnessing whenever I can.
- Phone: 720-219-2562
- Email: TheRealPastiche@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pastichequeen/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LikeDemiButPrettyAndTalented
Nhi Chao, Da Poetry Lounge