Tag Archives: Cuban men

Your Man vs Mine

It’s confession time. I confess I really didn’t like living in San Francisco – loved the access to nature, but the striving, wannabe, hipster attitude? Not so much (besides, I’ll take a hippie over a hipster ANY day). However, my 6+ years in residence in that burg did deliver a gift for life: I met my best friend and go-getter writer and adventurer, Alexandra D’Italia. Over two decades later, we continue to constitute and grow our mutual admiration society, driving each other to live, love, and create to the fullest.

And I have another confession to make: on my recent quick trip to LA (to spend time with Alexandra living, loving and creating to the fullest, among other things), I actually started thinking about spending a chunk of time in the USA; this thought had never crossed my mind in any meaningful way since moving to Cuba in 2002. I know it sounds a bit crazy given the complete insanity going on this election cycle, but the nature, the intellectual stimulation, my gift for humor in English, the fast internet and Trader Joe’s – it got under my skin, rang my bell, got my Kappa key a-jangling. Writing alongside award-winning Alexandra (who is now accepting a select number of creative clients so that you, too, can be inspired by her) was a big part of this ‘ah-ha’ moment and as we walked home one evening among the adobe-style bungalows, their gardens perfumed by datura, a writing challenge presented itself…

My First Daddy Issue
Alexandra D’Italia

I was not a girl who could just watch TV without the parental okay—Three’s Company? Too much jiggling. Laverne & Shirley? The characters were morons.

M*A*S*H was the exception. Mom loved B.J. Hunnicutt. If they had those allowable cheat lists back in the seventies, he would have made my mother’s list after Remington Steele.

I was planning on becoming Laurie Partridge and marrying Keith Partridge —fictional incest didn’t matter much to me back then. After all, I was pre-preteen and sex didn’t matter.

Then Hawkeye became the IT man of my life.

My parents would roll their eyes: “Alan Alda directed this episode, it’s going to be overwrought.” But damn, did I disagree. Any episode he directed melted into my psyche. In a dream, Hawkeye is limbless and unable to save a child with a belly wound. My parents’ stories of war protests didn’t have meaning until Hawkeye. He put the picture in my brain. He made me a dove.

And he had all that brown hair I wanted to touch. When he smiled, I smiled. You could tell he lit up a room. I wanted to be in that room!

Empathetic yet sarcastic, irreverent yet responsible —he was always right. He not only lit up the room, he was the smartest one in the room. No rule couldn’t be broken. No authority couldn’t be challenged. Get the job done and get me my martini. He was my dream personality.

Then there was his soft side. That man could give a good hug. Didn’t you see when he hugged Hotlips? Her stiff veneer broken by his warmth?

That Hawkeye was a Ladies’ Man only added to his allure. I wanted Ken, Jeff, Andrew, Chris, and Peter to follow me around the way the nurses followed him. [This never happened.]

Hawkeye even looked like my dad—handsome and lanky, brown hair parted on the side, piercing eyes that saw things you didn’t want to be seen. They both had that aura of dashing.

But he seemed much more approachable than Dad at the time who in a Buzzfeed quiz—What M*A*S*H character are you?—would have gotten Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. At the time, Hawkeye was easier to hug.

Then Hawkeye got real. My mother called Alan Alda a feminist. Oh glory be! This during the last gasps of the Equal Rights Amendment. Say what you want about the power of parents over a first child, but swoon did I! Snarky, smart . . . and a feminist? Dreamy.

So was it the man or the character? The man. My favorite Woody Allen films? Mr. Alda is in them. When I discovered he was in the Broadway production of my favorite play, Art, I wept that I missed him in it.

And finally, this man made me love a republican.


No, not Trump. Not Reagan. Not Bush, HW or W. His conservative Senator Arnold Vinick on The West Wing, every liberal’s political porn.

Now that’s a first love. Or at least a first daddy issue.

‘Tween Spank Bank
Conner Gorry

‘Tween Spank Bank
I’ve long been an avid masturbator and am not afraid to admit it. In the States, you don’t talk about these things in polite company. But here in Cuba? Stories are enthusiastically shared and notes compared. After 14 years in residence on this beguiling isle, I’ve heard enough to fill pages. One day I’ll reveal the cream of the crop (pun intended), but rather than shock and appall – and some of these tales are truly shocking, if not appalling; the masturbating dog (true story) being the least of it – I’m going to stick to the topic at hand: my early days of getting off.

Although I’m generally known for my moxie and grit, this isn’t a topic I’ve considered exploring previously. However, on a recent memorable, transformative trip to my native land, my best friend, (a woman I respect for myriad reasons, including the notches on her lipstick case), confessed to a detail which demanded a response. It was one of those moments to which you wish you weren’t witness; when someone presents an image you wish you could un-see – like my Cuban co-worker talking about how he looks in his leopard print g-string (another true story). My friend told me her ideal man growing up, the one she dreamed about, swooned over, and who filled her fantasies, was Alan Alda, Hawkeye, of M*A*S*H fame. Don’t know WTF I’m talking about? Click away; you’re not my ideal reader.

“Alan Alda?! Estás loca? Yuck.”

She took umbrage; defended her man – ethical, responsible, funny, a great father figure. These are all terrific qualities, we can agree. But to jack off? No, mi hermana.

“So who was the man of your wet dreams?” she asked me, throwing down the gauntlet.

“Mine? He was virile. Strong. Cut. And in command.” The One. The Only. Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk, Starship Enterprise.

Looking back, it’s cliché, I admit. The uniform. The take-charge attitude by a blond-haired, blue-eyed Adonis who motivates men, makes women weak in the knees, and saves the day – most of the time. Kirk was the stereotypical ‘mangón’ as we say in Cuba. Now that I think about it, it’s no wonder I go gaga over Cuban men – I was weaned on the machismo, bossy, and egotistical Captain Kirk, who says crap like ‘Mr Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That’s the only planet in the galaxy that can make that claim.’ Drilling down further, I see now that Kirk was kind of a douchebag – especially in the relationship realm. He was a product of his time, I guess, but so am I; as I grew older and up, my taste has skewed aggressively towards people who are ahead of their time.

Reflecting on my preferences for getting off, both then and now, I realize my friend – once again – is both ahead of her time and much more intelligent than I. In the short run, for a night or three, Captain Kirk is your man. But for the long haul, what every woman wants is Hawkeye.


Filed under Americans in cuba, Expat life, Relationships, Writerly stuff

Proyecto Runway: Parsing Cuban Fashion

[tweetmeme source=”connergo” only_single=false]Camel toes and muffin tops. Back fat. Lucite heels a la G String Divas. Gold watches and teeth and rings for every finger. Logo whores to the hilt, Cubans want Ed Hardy, D&G, Kangol & Crocs, knock-offs or not. Converse high tops and low, whether you’re 7 or 70 (see note 1) – this is what folks are wearing these days in Havana.

Those of you who know me know my fashion philosophy, where Rule #1 is Form Follows Function. No open-toed sandals in the greasy, gross alleys of Barrio Chino, no heels for Habana Vieja’s cobblestone streets. Rule #2, loosely related to the first, is Nearly New is New Enough. Why buy new when there are Salvation Army and other thrift stores from Kona to Bangor selling perfectly good, new-to-me clothes?

All of this is to explain why I’m the last person qualified to play Fashion Police (see note 2), but folks who haven’t been to Cuba before or in a long time have expressed a certain intrigue with the threads, accessories, and trends here. You asked for it, you got it.

Tight & short Most foreigners go gaga when the get a load of las Cubanas working their Daisy Dukes that are so short and tight, the only word that comes to mind is: chafe. Closely related are micro minis. These skirts, (a misnomer since they’re no bigger than napkins), barely, just barely, cover the crotch. I’m tempted to play Mom to some of these girls, embarrassing both them and me by suggesting: ‘won’t you cover up a bit love? Men can’t be trusted with so little left to the imagination.’ Thankfully for everyone involved, I refrain. I also don’t tell them that in La Yuma, only working girls dress like that – another factor confusing foreign visitors.

All hail spandex! Gone are the days when women of all body types – up to and including carny sideshow size – roamed Havana’s streets in striped Lycra leggings. Nevertheless, the material still reigns supreme and you’ll see it everywhere. As I write this, moneyed matrons are power walking 5ta Avenida in fashionable yoga pants and chicks in skin tight Spandex, their assets emblazoned with ‘Sexy’ or ‘Hollister,’ are waiting for the guagua.

And then there are ‘jeggings’ which combine the two fashions Cubans are most passionate about: jeans and leggings. These days, jeggings are hotter than the gold chain a guy just tried to sell me on the street.

Denim, damn the weather Every once in a while people ask me: how can you wear jeans in that heat? My response is: how can’t we? For me, this is a quality of life issue. There is nothing like a great fitting pair of jeans to get ’em hot and bothered and I can rock the Levis with the best of them. Sure, it’s a little uncomfortable in August, but the rest of the year? We suck it up.

One denim super trend which warrants ticketing by the Fashion Police however is the violation of the 11th Commandment: ‘thou shalt not wear jeans with jeans jacket.’

Congrís belly and butter face Not fashion per se, these two phenomena are rooted in the conviction and confidence possessed by most Cubans that I Am Hot. A long time ago my friend Jim, a musician, told me ‘the key to success is 95% confidence.’ That is, confidence compensates for any lack of gift or polish and this is a maxim Cubans embody effortlessly. Consider what I call ‘congrís belly,’ a commonplace and easily observable trait: gorgeous, lithe girls looking good enough to eat strut their stuff in jeans and skin tight camisoles stretched over (or almost but not quite) a pot belly. They’re ubiquitous these slim girls with guts, which I can only attribute to the voluminous amounts of congrís (and refresco, ice cream, white bread, and fried everything) Cubans so love.

The second phenomenon is the ‘butter face’. Striding along confidently on her spiked heels (what mom used to call ‘come fuck me shoes’), a Cuban woman stops traffic with her ass-of-a-goddess in skin tight jeans or body-clinging Lycra, complemented by her plunging cleavage. But get a look at her from the front and she’s got a healthy moustache, acne scars, and a mug only a parent could love. She is, in short, the classic butter face: everything is gorgeous but…her…face. This phenomenon seems to be taking on new dimensions as silicone breast implants become all the rage here.

Bigger IS better Cuban men, too, have their fashion faux pas. A flagrant one of late is the bagel-sized belt buckle. Is it just me or is the size of the buckle in direct inverse proportion to the size of the boner (cowboys notwithstanding)? It’s a ridiculous trend regardless, taken to new heights here with giant pot leaves, huge spinning dollar signs (“they spinnin’ nigga, they spinnin’!” see note 3), and scorpions. It’s funny this last, since I’ve never seen another sun sign represented. I’d love to see a young salsero sporting a giant Gemini buckle for instance.

The party line “Typical MININT,” my friend said to me the other day, giving the once over to a guy nearby. How’d he know so quickly and unequivocally the fellow was with the Ministry of the Interior? The checked button down shirt. It’s a dead give away, no matter the color or combination. A related standard issue is the striped pullover. These collared shirts usually come in muted stripes of blue, red, and grey and are favored by state workers – drivers especially.

Butt cheeks The urban trend whereby men show off their skivvies thanks to absurdly low slung jeans is taking Havana youth by storm. So what if the boxers say ‘Joc Boxer’ or ‘D&C?’ No, the bad counterfeit logos don’t bother me, but when I want to see your underwear, you better be ready to give me the Full Monty.

Got a favorite Cuban fashion? Give a holler.


1. Like everything else at Here is Havana, this is no exaggeration: my father-in-law rocks a very chulo pair of Chuckie Con low tops.

2. A habit I picked up from my insanely intelligent brother, he of incisive wit and observatory (and other) powers. R.I.P.

3. This is a classic Chris Rock joke I rarely repeat for obvious reasons, but every time I see one of these spinning belt buckles, I laugh out loud, Rock ringing in my ears.


Filed under Americans in cuba, Cuban customs, Living Abroad, Travel to Cuba