King kingdom

Chatting with Jesse Mata, Cornyation’s obnoxious King Anchovy LV

After sleeping in his box for two years, Jesse Mata will be officially crowned “His Hateful Royal King” King Anchovy LV at Fiesta San Antonio’s annual Cornyation event. The self-proclaimed “hottest, cheapest event with a purpose,” will cook up campy satire in the kingdom of San Antonio this week with six shows.

More than a king – Anchovy is San Antonio’s main jester. For those unfamiliar, Cornyation serves to poke fun at the local big cats, politicians, and cultural events that have played a major part in the zeitgeist of the past year.

Since the show hasn’t played at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater since Fiesta 2019, there’s several years of pending content to sift through. It goes without saying that Cornyation’s cast, filled with seasoned performers, artists and local luminaries, has an ambitious task ahead of them.

“If it was a standout story in the last three years, it’s probably going to be there,” Mata shares with MySA. Of course, that includes the great Texas freeze of February 2021, local political stories, and, inevitably, the pandemic.

As for his role, instead of just showing up (since he’s been waiting in King Anchovy’s queue for so long), Mata will “sit to judge everything that happens” as he embodies a sort of of “mystical character à la Walter Mercado”. .”

Mata also teases the appearances of Fiesta’s two establishment kings, King Antonio XCIX (Barton Tinsley Simpson) and Rey Feo LXIII (Augie Cortez) during Wednesday performances.

John McBurney costumed several Monica Lewinskys for the 1999 Cornyation.

File photo

After growing up in San Antonio and going off to college at Baylor, Mata was exposed to his first Cornyation celebration when he returned to the city around 2001. He was immediately taken away. “I had just got back and was trying to start my life here. I always loved Fiesta as a kid and decided that I kind of wanted to explore it, you know, get involved in all the possible ways.”

During those days, according to Mata, the Painted Lady Bed and Breakfast on Broadway hosted Fiesta viewing parties. From Cornyation and Battle of Flowers Parade, they were heading to the Bonham Exchange nightclub.


“That’s where all the gay gay men in San Antonio would end up,” says Mata. “Going to these events is how I kind of learned about Cornyation and its history in town. It was just something that I knew I wanted to be a That’s how my love for it started, then by participating, you know, it got much deeper.

In 2003, he started helping out by designing accessories and the Cornyation badge – made out of sequins, rhinestones and various trinkets. The following year he was returning from the coast when his good friend Rob Gonzalez stepped in with a call and delegated the designer job to him. The subject matter was the Martha Stewart prison scandal. The final look was a dancing Martha wearing a birdcage and an orange prison ensemble.

Cornylation

Cornylation


Billy Calzada /San Antonio Express-News
The actors prepare for Cornyation, a satirical and theatrical adult-oriented review of current events at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater in 2018. The event raises money for AIDS service groups and for scholarships.

The actors prepare for Cornyation, a satirical and theatrical adult-oriented review of current events at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater in 2018. The event raises money for AIDS service groups and for scholarships.


Billy Calzada/Staff File Photo


B. Kay Richter

“My role kind of went from screenwriter to board member, working with Ray to set up the show and now finally, King Anchovy,” says Mata, who shares that he doesn’t particularly care about fish. dirty. .

Cornyation had its first run in the 1950s and 1960s, led by founding fathers Russell Hill Rogers and former San Antonio Little Theater manager Joe Salek, according to a book about the event by Trinity professor Amy L. Stone. At the time, the show was presented to family audiences at the Fiesta A Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA) event. At first, it was used explicitly to mock the crowning of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, a Fiesta season rookie contest. During the 1960s, the cast began to behave more provocatively by incorporating criticism of state and local politicians into the act. Then, in 1965, the Fiesta family event cut ties with Cornyation for being too vulgar. Without anchoring, it has become obsolete.

It was revived in the 1980s by two former gay costume designers Ray Chavez and Robert Cotham “Bob” Jolly. For eight years it was played at the Bonham Exchange. With the change in location allowing to push the boundaries more than ever before, it became the perfect place during Fiesta. In 1990 it was moved to its current location and at that time began to gather a wider audience. During the 1990s, the show also began raising funds to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Three exciting and raucous days of Cornyation began on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, with the theme: The Court of Frantic Frenzied Kingdoms.  The show, which runs until Thursday, April 26, 2018, featured performance troupes with looney titles such as

Three exciting and raucous days of Cornyation began on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, with the theme: The Court of Frantic Frenzied Kingdoms. The show, which runs until Thursday, April 26, 2018, featured performance troupes with looney titles such as “The Duchess of Stormy Rendezvous and Melania’s Revenge”, “The Duchess of Pie Al A Mo” and “The Vice -Empress of the TRY -Centenary treat!”

Fabian Villa, for mySA.com

“The thing is, for the most part, a lot of the people who put on the show every year are queer, or gay, lesbian, trans, etc. It’s a place where we can come together and have a creative outlet. and a place where drag is celebrated by the whole community and, you know, creativity and visual art and all that kind of stuff is, too,” Mata adds. “So yeah, it’s been a valuable space over the decades and I would love to be here for decades more to help her.”

To this day, the event is a major fundraiser, racking up $3 million since its revival. This year they are raising money for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, the Black Effort Against the Threat (BEAT) of AIDS, the Thrive Youth Center, the center for LGBTQ homeless youth, and the Robert Greene Theater Arts Fellowship. A fundraiser unique to Mata’s reign is the first anchovy art auction, featuring works by local artists. “Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an art collector. I’m an art freak. And so I had to incorporate that somehow,” says Mata.

Over the years, Cornyation has grown into the de facto flashing Fiesta event that everyone, including the same prominent locals who are the butt of its jokes, attend. For many, its unique reflective surface served as a necessary piece of the puzzle of Fiesta as a whole, originally established as a commemoration of Texas’ victory at the Battle of the Alamo and San Jacinto.

“Especially in the last 20 years there’s been – I don’t want to call it a backlash – but like, an almost pragmatic take on what Fiesta celebrates. People rightly say, you know, it’s like a colonialist party, or it’s you know, a celebration of oppression or land theft and I’ll just say that at Cornyation we’re irreverent, okay, like, we speak truth to power, we let’s play everybody. It’s an even hand, and I think people appreciate that,” says Mata, King Anchovy LV.

“They appreciate the opportunity to go to a Fiesta event that takes an honest, funny and tough look at everything that’s going on in the world. And, you know, we can have a good time and all laugh at each other and ourselves.”

Tickets are still on sale for the official Cornyation of Fiesta San Antonio: The Courtyard of Resilient(?) Magnificence. The shows will take place twice per evening from Tuesday April 5 to Thursday April 7, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Get them here.