Transvestites charm macho Fruitvale bar – Angela Hill

Glamorous performers dazzle crowds with their weekly show

Oakland – Danny Hernandez came out of the closet-sized dressing room in a gown that was sequined enough for a woman but made for a man. A little thicker in the shoulders. A little straighter in the hips.

Techno-mariachi music throbbed a deep pulse ? not the kind of loud that hurts your ears, but the kind of loud that hurts your internal organs. A rainbow of colored spotlights twirled. A smoke machine puffed. The crowd in the tiny bar went wild, and the Mexican transvestite show was on. “The Queens of the Night” ? a troupe of four transvestites and one transsexual ? perform at La Frontera nightclub in Oakland every Tuesday night. Kind of an odd sight to behold in this straight bar in the middle of the Fruitvale, and often an uneasy fit with macho Mexican traditions.

But there’s more to the modern Mexican culture than meets the mainstream eye. More than mariachis and taco trucks, baby.

Transvestite shows are a big subculture, in Mexico and here. There were plenty of transvestites, transsexuals and trans-everything else of all ethnicities performing in Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, which drew hundreds of thousands of spectators.

But it’s a different scene in Oakland, and especially in the Fruitvale.

Club owner Martin Vega welcomes the “Queens of the Night,” and has enjoyed the business their show draws to his place on International Boulevard at Fruitvale Avenue. “We’re in the era that we need to be open-minded,” he said in Spanish. “I respect them. As long as they respect me, there’s no problem.”