I Like it Like That (Black Out)

Institute History


Amidst the swirl of Salsa music and depressed urban economics with its violence, drug dealing, and ever inter-racial prejudice, young Latinos Chino and Lisette Linares and their three children have functioned for nine years within the safe confines of married life—safe, until it is threatened by the events of one fateful night when the power goes down in the Bronx, resulting in a black out.

Anxious to prove himself a good provider, Chino takes on the dare to steal, plunging into the chaotic darkness, but is caught and jailed, with little hope of meeting the $1500 bail that is his only way to freedom. Frustrated and powerless behind bars, a frightened Chino must weather the storms of his wife and children from a distance and face the paternity claims of the promiscuous, voluptuous Magdalena for her son Ritchie. A Puerto Rican Marilyn Monroe type, Magdalena makes him an offer that is hard to refuse.

Chino's absence forces a maturing for all involved as Lisette, often childish and insistent, proves herself strong and ambitious when necessary, facing issues of career, sexual identity, independence, and what it means to be a strong woman and a mother. She must find ways to communicate with Li'l Chino, her restless eight year old son, in an environment that distorts what it means to be a man too dangerously and too soon. Chino himself, handsome and sought after, must learn to take responsibility for his actions and accept his own compassionate side without succumbing to the macho peer pressure that surrounds him, even when it comes from his best friend Angel, an impetuous young man who Chino discovers will usually look out for his own best interests. Chino, brother of a murdered police officer, must also deal with the legacy of courage and honesty left to him.

In scenes that are both comical and bitter, even Lisette's transvestite brother, the flamboyant Alexis, must look beyond the surface of his experiences, forcing a stubborn Lisette to do the same. Alexis subtly serves as a force to help the Linares at least see their common desire to try to stay together. Whether they will achieve this will ultimately depend on themselves. But all of the characters in BLACK OUT emerge, through trial and error, changed, holding a clearer view of what their places in a contemporary world must be. Lisette in particular, as a young Latino woman and mother, succeeds in finding a more complete adult role for herself without sacrificing what she had before.

It is with simplicity that this story of three lives coming-of-age simultaneously is constructed. Catching each character at a delicate turning point brings harsh subjects to the surface where they are explored with humor. Moving through surprising yet realistic twists, the story conveys the spice, sex, and domestic drama of urban Latino culture, a sub-culture within a larger city, illustrated with entertaining realism. Against the backdrop of original Latin music, the largely unfamiliar territory of urban Latin life is finally portrayed—sexy, musical, funny, and original.


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