by Molly Walsh
Azucar: A Latine Cabaret Experience is set to make its return to Olympia with a fresh format and in a new venue. Azucar will feature music and performances from a revolving all-Latine lineup and will be hosted by Azucar producer Latina K Turner D’Ho as well as VenDetta Petty Kash D’Ho.
During Azucar performances, Latina said they want each artist in the show’s lineup to have creative freedom in their routine. Each show may have a loose aesthetic, but individual artists aren’t required to follow a specific theme.
“You’re gonna see a little bit of everything,” said Latina. “You’re not only going to see burlesque, although burlesque is the main focus, because it is a different format than the other shows that you see in town.”
The lineup for Azucar is expected to be top-notch, said Latina, with burlesque, drag and variety performers whom Latina has personally invited to perform.
“I actively go and look for my community, look for those performers,” said Latina. “So they are all hand selected. So, we are going to see people who are stars on their own right. And each one brings something different to the table. And also, Papaya Magic Cabaret is going to be performing at each show.”
Premiering in 2018, Azucar began as an annual show, Azucar, a Celebration of Latin & Hispanic Heritage, at the Capitol Theater in Olympia. After Azucar’s second annual performance in 2019, the show went on a hiatus in subsequent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Latina decided 2023 was the right time to rekindle the show as Azucar: A Latine Cabaret Experience, with performances scheduled for roughly every other month at the Cryptatropa Bar (The Crypt) in Olympia, with a break during the summer months. Azucar’s relaunch will begin on September 16, coinciding with the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
“That’s…what I’m hoping to accomplish,” said Latina. “Give that space for the artist and for Latino attendees to have a space as well, where they see their culture, or their heritage, their background on the stage.”
Latina started performing burlesque in 2010, then under the name of Perlita Picante. Over the years, Latina performed as an individual burlesque artist, while co-founding the collectives, Rock Candy Burlesque and Papaya Magic Cabaret. Latina said Papaya Magic Cabaret is the first burlesque and cabaret group in Olympia to feature an all-Latine lineup.
After taking a break from performing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Latina eventually returned to burlesque performance and officially changed their name to Latina K Turner D’Ho in 2022. In recent times, Latina has continued to participate in festivals, group performances and at local events, including as a host for the 2022 Capital City Pride.
Latina said as they emerged from their break, they had an itch to not only perform, but to also host events that resonate with the community. And as the co-creator and producer of multiple burlesque events and collectives, Latina made the decision to bring back Azucar this year, because they felt Azucar would be a unique and important addition to Olympia’s local live performance scene.
“I decided, you know what? No, Azucar is what’s needed right now,” said Latina. “Azucar is what my community needs right now, and this is not something that we have, that we have at the moment.”
Azucar’s new home at The Crypt, is a familiar space for Latina, having experience with the venue as both an attendee and performer.
“As a venue, I feel that that is a safe space for BIPOC, for people of color, for LGBT plus, and for anyone of a marginalized community or identity,” said Latina. “And they will have no problem in making sure that we are protected.”
At the Crypt, Azucar will be able to grow into a communal environment that is well-suited to live performances, including burlesque. And in their role as hosts, Latina and VenDetta will encourage a more cozy feeling with plans for a living-room type set and a talk-show style rapport with the audience, including introduction to new music, conversations on current events and playlist recommendations.
“I want to not only highlight our artists, but I also want to…introduce my audience to new music,” said Latina.
As Azucar’s return approaches, Latina is looking forward to sharing this new format and new lineup of performances with an Olympia audience. Azucar is slated to be an entertaining show, said Latina, while also inviting attendees to learn more about the many different facets of the Latine community.
“It’s full of so many people from so many different backgrounds,” said Latina. “We have so many nationalities and each nationality has their own…culture and their own…identities.”
Azucar: A Latine Cabaret Experience
Azucar Premieres Saturday, September 16, 2023
9:00 PM — 11:30 PM
Next show scheduled for Saturday, November 4, 2023
9:00 PM — 11:30 PM PDT
Cryptatropa Bar (The Crypt)
421 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA 98501