Every vacation destination features its own cast of unique characters, some of which can leave a footprint in your memories. We’ve singled out three hard-working Puerto Vallarta individuals, fully committed to making those around them glow with happiness and good vibes.
(This article was commissioned by Gay Entertainment Directory, and it first appeared in their August 2019 edition.)
Angélica Estrella “AngieStar” • Drag Queen
As a young boy, Angie saw his first drag show at age 14, by happenstance, having no idea how this isolated experience would transform her life, quite literally. It was 23 years ago, when she turned 18, that she came out of the closet and began experiencing gay nightlife in Puerto Vallarta. “At the time, Paco Paco was the place to go if you wanted to enjoy a good show,” she recalls. Months after she began attending the venue regularly, she was dared by some friends to participate in an amateur contest, even offering to sponsor her transformation. “All I had to do is find a dress!”
That fateful evening, she came home with the first price, having performed Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. She was hooked. Shortly thereafter, and thanks to Mauri, one of the regular performers, she was offered a job at the bar. Having learned English abroad, she eventually became the MC and Mauri became her drag mother. At the same time, her family was struggling to make ends meet so continuing her business administration education became impossible.
Angie took to the life and world of local female impersonators like fish to water, but as time went by, the unsettledness about her true identity began to increase. “My family struggled with my coming out and then with my decision to become a drag queen, but eventually came around. But as I became realizing the fact that I truly felt like a woman, the struggle within and around me increased.” Despite much uncertainty and lots of pressure around her, Angie chose to be true to herself as transgender and began her transformation with hormonal treatment.
Today, she is a regular at The Top Sky Bar and also quite busy with private shows. For the past three years, she has gone through life, both on and offstage, as a woman. With a career spanning over two decades of professional shows in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and abroad, she is relaxed and fulfilled. “My family is now 100 percent behind me. Even my nephews and nieces call me tía Angie (aunt Angie).
Ramses Macedo Cuevas • DJ
If you are fortunate enough to catch DJ Ramses on a break and engage him in conversation about Puerto Vallarta’s gay bar history, brace yourself. Over the past two decades, he has DJed in just about every single one of them, including a few that no longer exist!
Originally from the coastal city of Guaymas, Sonora, his family moved to Puerto Vallarta while he was still a child. By his teesns, he started exploring life in the city’s budding gay nightlife. “One of the places to go at the time was Balcones, a small but memorable dance club just north of the Rio Cuale,” he remembers. “It was there that one of the house DJs took me under his wing and taught me how to work the equipment to make music with it. I was barely 20 at the time!”
Eventually, he became one of Balcones’ resident DJs and remained there for over a decade. But by 2008, all gay-related nightlife had migrated south of the river, to the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood where it has thrived since. However, due to dwindling clientele, Balcones closed after many years of serving the local LGBT community.
Since then, DJ Ramses has brought his signature vocal house style to many different venues in the ‘gayborhood’, including Hotel Mercurio on Sundays. “I love making people feel good and feel like dancing through my music,” he glows, sharing an anecdote in which a friend once labeled his style as ‘happy bottom music’ for his ability to make folks get up and shake their booty.
Jorge González • Bartender
Originally from Guadalajara, Jorge visited Puerto Vallarta for the first time almost 15 years ago. In just a few days, he was charmed enough with the city that he decided to come back permanently less than a month later. He took it upon himself to find permanent employment and shortly thereafter landed a job as a receptionist at Hotel Mercurio, in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s gay neighborhood.
The hotel had been recently purchased by Paul Crist, who was not only busy shifting its target market from traditional family-style to LGBT, he had initiated extensive renovations in the pool area, which was to include a bar. When the project was finished, a bartender was hired but additional help was needed to complete his shifts. Jorge was asked to take the shifts, agreeing reluctantly. “I had no clue on how to fix a drink,” he recalls. “In fact, I was getting ready to quit altogether.” Trusting his path, he started attending to the bar two days a week, then three. “Little by little, I began to love connecting with such a diverse variety of clients, and appreciating our similitudes and differences.” in less than a year Hotel Mercurio’s bar became affectionately known as “Jorge’s Bar.”
Today, you can find Jorge at Hotel Mercurio’s poolside bar six days a week, from 3 pm on, chortling with clients and flicking his fan as he pours one drink after another. “It doesn’t even feel like work for me,” he affirms. “I will always remain grateful to Paul for the leap of faith and for taking a chance on me. I’ve never looked back.”
Did you enjoy this article?
If so, please consider sharing it on social media using the links, below. Also, please join my mailing list to be notified of new stories!