REP Memories

Ric Salinas is an original member of Culture Clash. He will be performing in the Rep’s 45th Season with the one person show called 57 Chevy written by Cris Franco. Here, he shares a memory from the 1998 production of “Culture Clash in Bordertown.” 

The San Diego Rep commissioned Culture Clash (Ric Salinas, Richard Montoya and Herbert Siguenza) to write and perform “Culture Clash in Bordertown” in 1998. This project was an amazing experience for me as an actor and social chronicler. It was a site specific work about San Diego and its surroundings, including Mexico/Tijuana.” We set off to familiarize ourselves with our subject, so we interviewed around a hundred San Diegans meeting them at their workplace, coffee shops and bars. We recorded their oral histories and then transcribed them, edited them and after hours of discussion and experimentation with our director Sam Woodhouse, a unique play was born.

Let me just state that I love San Diego! I had the rare opportunity to meet many diverse citizens that make up this incredible community. One of my favorite discoveries was Logan Heights aka Barrio Logan, and its residents. In the play, we actually play a scene set in Chicano Park and portraying actual residents like the late musical hero Chunky Sanchez, members of “Los Cabrones” motorcycle club.

That’s when I met Raffas (short for Rafael), the owner of a cherry-ass Harley Davidson. 
Raffas was a classic Chicano biker 

complete in leather vest, blue jeans,
 Pendleton shirt, bandana, chain attached to his wallet, motorcycle boots, and a handlebar mustache that I believe hit his lap when he sat on 
his hog. We needed a real motorcycle for our scene and Raffas graciously offered his prized baby to us to use in the production. What we did not know was that Raffas would stand guard of his Harley for EVERY performance! I guess I would’ve done the same, since it was worth many thousands of dollars.
We got to know Raffas very well, in fact all three Culture Clash members remain friends with him probably “Por Vida!” The funniest memory I have of “Culture Clash in Bordertown” is while rehearsing for several weeks, one day, as we were portraying a real character, we were adding different dialogue and lines, as we often do as playwrights but out of nowhere, we hear Raffas say, “Nope, he would never say anything like that. That’s B.S.” I remember we all turned around including director Sam, 
stunned but captivated by this remark. Raffas went on to tell us, that realistically that character wouldn’t sound like that, he went on to correct us on how this person would say something, walk a certain way, react a certain way,etc. In a nutshell, Raffas was doing theater dramaturgy! It was like a scene from Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway”, where the playwright played by John Cusak, is being schooled by gangster bodyguard played by Chazz Palminteri. Life imitates art and art imitates life. Raffas, like a real theater trooper, sat quietly backstage in wings and never missed a performance!

First photo: Richard Montoya (left), Ricardo Salinas (middle) and Herbert Siguenza (right) in Culture Clash in Bordertown, San Diego REP, 1998.Photo by Ken Jacques

Second photo: Richard Montoya (left), Herbert Siguenza (middle) and Ricardo Salinas (right); photo by Ken Jacques
Third Photo: The infamous motorcylce