Institute History

  • 1998 June Screenwriters Lab


VIOLENTA is the story of a superhero very few people have heard about. Faster than gossip, quicker than gunfire, is it Gloria? Is it Celia? No; she has better hair than those two and boy can she mambo! . . . It's Violenta! The world's first drag queen superhero. So beware: all violators will be prostituted.

Our story begins in 1980 Cuba, when Ralfi's parents decide to leave the tropical island during a political uprising and head for Miami. Ralfi's father is opposed to his 9 year-old son wearing lipstick, but his mom wishes that lipstick would make men stronger. As the family rushes out of their home to catch a boat called "The Party Girl" that will take them to paradise, Ralfi's mom tells him that this is their lucky day and asks him to make a wish. Echoing his mother, Ralfi closes his eyes and wishes that lipstick made men stronger.

The traumatic exodus proves to be fatal for Ralfi's parents. They both drown at sea during a fierce storm. Ralfi is immediately adopted by an older Cuban couple, who make him part of a traditional Cuban home in Miami. Once in high school, Ralfi's true nature makes itself known. He likes Edward and he likes make-up. But Edward is not ready for Ralfi, and the world around them is not ready for two men loving each other, period. Ralfi's step parents are nice, but José, his father, wishes Ralfi was like other boys. Violeta, his stepmother, is submissive to her husband. Feeling lonely and depressed, Ralfi decides to leave home and "find himself." That same night, in an abandoned building in Miami Beach, Violenta is born.

Ralfi's story is bittersweet and funny, as he tries to change the world and his own family at the same time. His mother is more distressed by the discovery that Ralfi is a registered democrat (also known as communists in her book) than by his sexual orientation. She has difficulty emancipating herself at home, yet is a radical, underground, gun smuggling, right-wing leader organizing housewives against Fidel. Other colorful characters include a nine-year-old clairvoyant girl, the daughter of a mixed-race lesbian couple, a self hating, closeted gang leader, and a homophobic, ex-Miss Florida type who knows the words to every musical ever written.

As luck would have it, Ralfi and Edward cross paths again years later. A little bit older and wiser, Edward has become a gay activist commissioner for the city of Miami and the spark between the two men is re-ignited. But Edward is too conservative for his own good and disapproves of drag, forcing Ralfi to lead a double life as his secretary by day, and the Super Drag Queen that saves the day—mostly at night.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of VIOLENTA as Ralfi saves the state of Florida from evil politicians, reconciles with his adoptive parents and wins the heart of the man he loves. And, oh yes, he changes the world.


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