Diplomat. Soldier. Polo player. Treasure hunter. Race-car or truck driver. Jet-setting intercontinental playboy. The FBI suspected he was an assassin operating for the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.
But you know him as the genuine-daily life inspiration for James Bond.
“It’s sort of astonishing that one particular person can be in so lots of areas at once,” Christopher Rivas says.
Nonetheless why do you not know Porfirio Rubirosa?
“Is there really much more of an worldwide person of secret?” Rivas asks.
Rivas wrote and stars in “The Authentic James Bond… Was Dominican,” the new production by Geva Theatre Heart, opening Friday and functioning via May perhaps 29.
The show’s incredibly existence confronts the coronavirus pandemic head on, along with significantly extended-managing problems for a New York Town child who grew up worshiping the James Bond films of Sean Connery. As well younger to travel an Aston-Martin sports automobile, but imaginative plenty of to be operating all over with Nerf guns, pretending he was on top secret missions.
In “The Genuine James Bond… Was Dominican,” Rivas asks of Rubirosa’s legacy: “How did a person who experienced so considerably affect in the globe, who was associated in so quite a few factors, who had the most effective franchise in history centered on him, how did he vanish?”
And he asks of himself: “I’m a Dominican guy, and so I have to ponder what my daily life would have been like experienced I not been pretending to be a white person with a British accent?”
“The True James Bond… Was Dominican” provides solutions.
Rivas has an extensive theater résumé, as effectively as showing up in television demonstrates this kind of as “Grey’s Anatomy” and is now on Fox’s “Call Me Kat.” He’s unfold the resourceful wealth by launching storytelling workshops, and operating on his autobiography, “Brown Ample.” All of this making an attempt, he claims, “to spark dialogue.”
However in this COVID-19 earth, with no an viewers, the spark has no tinder to established afire.
“Where I occur from, theater does not really exist devoid of the viewers, the other human being,” Rivas says. “I want them in the space with me.”
The room, as we are now really employed to, is digital. “The True James Bond… Was Dominican” is a reside broadcast via Zoom online video conferencing know-how. Right after acquiring a ticket by Geva’s web site, the viewers watches the clearly show, broadcast stay from Geva’s Wilson Stage. Rivas watches, and listens, to the audience.
“Be current, never disappear into your screens, handle it as if you ended up coming to the theater,” Rivas states. “Dim the lights in your household, have the glass of wine beforehand if you require to, and demonstrate up, place your phone away and love that hour with me.
“It’s also good as a performer to not be doing into a void, but to know that the audience is listed here with me, and I can listen to them and see them. And we’re inquiring people today to keep their cameras on, as if they had been exhibiting up at the theater.”
The moment the audience has settled into its dwelling rooms, beverages in hand, it will be “looking at the way this guy, Porfirio Rubirosa, this male who was twice the richest male in the world” — he married perfectly, two times — “knew most people, was everywhere,” Rivas says. “Hitler’s Germany. Fidel’s Cuba. Ideal good friends with the Rat Pack and Kennedy and Prince Aly Khan. And Marilyn Monroe. You identify it. And how he was just type of taken from historical past.”
With “The Authentic James Bond… Was Dominican,” Rivas also examines his have life. “How would my lifestyle have been various experienced the character I beloved most as a kid appeared like me, or appeared like my father.”
And we see Rivas wanting again at himself, as a younger male.
“The way I was living my lifetime as a male of shade, especially just one who functions in Hollywood, you know, it unveiled hazardous points I was living in my own existence,” he claims. “How I essential to watch what I was performing and how it was transforming my human body and my strategies of dwelling that I wanted to place a stop on in purchase to obtain my voice.”
A 10 years back, Rivas was a 21-calendar year-outdated university college student when he initial encountered the tale of Rubirosa. It was an article in Vainness Honest magazine, and Rivas was overwhelmed. To this working day, Rivas doesn’t recognize why those people words didn’t go viral.
How did we get rid of sight of Rubirosa?
“I have to picture it has to do with colonization and our obsession with Eurocentric expectations and, you know, a factor that is however going on to this working day,” Rivas states. “Stealing people’s stories for the whiter audiences.”
Ian Fleming was the creator at the rear of James Bond. Fleming and Rubirosa, Rivas suggests, “spent a lot of time jointly.”
“Rubirosa discovered sunken treasure off the coastline of Spain, and every little thing he did to learn that treasure was expressed phrase for word in ‘Thunderball,’ the fifth novel in the Bond collection.”
Fleming made use of his mate, Rivas says. “He had a big element in producing this person disappear, in having his tales and not earning them about him.”
So Fleming was one particular of the main robbers of Rubirosa’s legacy.
“If he would have been serving to, he would have reported, ‘Here’s this Dominican man, appear how great he is.’ But he mentioned, ‘Here’s this white British naval officer.’”
Nonetheless it was a recreation that could accommodate much more than one particular player, and that incorporated Rubirosa.
“As substantially as whiteness may have taken his tale, I also know that Rubirosa was taken by white guys in a way to be observed, in a way to be approved, in a way to attempt and have upward mobility,” Rivas claims. “How significantly can you test and match into their sport, a game that is not developed for you.”
Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Everyday living editor and reporter. He can be achieved at [email protected]