We had the good fortune of connecting with Tito Bonito and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tito, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born in Miami, Florida, to two beautiful Cuban parents. Growing up, I spent most of my time with family, neighbors, and friends, surrounded by Cuban and American culture. Their tenacity, resilience, and humor always inspired me. Instilling a confidence that I would benefit from greatly as an adult and an artist. I also make sure to reference my roots constantly including my tagline; the Cuban Missile Crisis of Burlesque.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In simplest terms, I am a male burlesque performer and host/comedian. So, I am basically a “masculine” counterpart to the tease one would normally receive from a female dancer. In the last few years, I have also started working more as a comedic host for shows and festivals across the country. The thing that sets me apart from others is that there are very few male burlesque performers to begin with; especially Latino ones. Besides that I would have to say my diverse talents. I am constantly trying to outdo myself as a performer with acts that are not only comedic, but political and emotional as well. I am a hard worker and go above and beyond to create a positive environment around me at all times. Plus I have produced shows and online content for the past decade.
Struggling through life to find my voice and place, I was drawn to the revival of burlesque and the neo-vaudeville movement because it truly does help transform people’s perceptions of sexuality as well as social and political issues. It’s much more than comedy and stripping, it’s a revolution for women and queer people, but it’s inclusive to anyone who’s respectful enough to understand it. Once I started performing, my whole life changed for the better, and I was allowed to be able to do the same for others.
Of course it wasn’t easy, and getting into this field was more of an experiment than a commitment. However, my best friend Jeez Loueez (who just so happens to be ranked the #1 Burlesque Performer in the World currently) introduced me to the art and got me first started. I owe everything to her and would be nowhere without her guidance, support, and love. I have overcome all my challenges because of her. My biggest lesson that I have learned along the way is to take life one day at a time. Life can change dramatically and instantly. To truly have peace, you have to exist in the present and be grateful for all that you have.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I think this is a trick question because after the pandemic, things have changed so much. However, the beautiful beaches that San Diego has to offer is something we could spend a few days exploring. San Diego also boasts some of the best vegan and vegetarian options so we would have a lot of fun enjoying all the places we have to offer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Susie Grafte, owner of Ooh La La Dance Academy 805-252-6900
Each picture is named with the photographers Iris Ray Kriss Abigail Isaac Russell Richard Marz Stephen LaMarche