“It might take a queer more than five minutes to make up his mind while watching this handsome lieutenant stroke his magnificent organ.” –
Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem)
19 years ago, today (September 3) in Before Night Falls, Johnny also played Lieutenant Victor, a prison interrogator who can’t resist stroking himself as he stares a portrait of Fidel Castro. Different from Bon-Bon, Johnny left the funny comedy scenes and becomes an extreme sadist character, representing how homosexuals used to be treated by guards at the
hellish jail of El Morro Prison during the 70′s.
Ps. Johnny’s “magnificent organ” was just a mixture of paper and pieces of cloth stuffed on his pants to make it bigger.
“The revolution will find a way to use your talent. We could fit you in
somewhere, some speeches, a letter to your friends, publisher, telling them how
well you’re being treated… And that’s a good beginning. ~
18 years ago, today (September 3), “Before Night Falls” premièred at Venice Film
Festival in Italy. The movie was screened mostly in festivals and had a limited
exhibition in the USA theaters in 2000, and later, in 2001, was screened in
several countries. The biographical
drama/romantic movie was directed by
Julian Schnabel, and it’s based on the autobiography of the same name of
Reinaldo Arenas, published in 1993. In this movie, Johnny makes small cameo playing two very
different characters: First he appears as Bon Bon, the glamorous transvestite of
El Morro Prison, and then as the Lieutenant Victor, a
prison interrogator who can’t resist stroking himself as he stares a portrait
of Fidel Castro.
> Synopsis: Before Night Falls tells the journey through the
life and work of the late Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Victimized by a
government that banned his books and jailed him for a crime he didn’t commit,
Reinaldo endured unspeakable persecution in a courageous stand against
censorship and oppression. Without a country but nor without integrity, he fled
to America where he continued to fight for his personal expression and produced
a stirring body of work.
* There are almost no funny scenes in the movie, and Johnny’s cameo as
Bon Bon makes you burst in laughter, even though he only says one line. As
Victor, Johnny has a longer dialogue interrogating Javier’s character.
* Bon Bon has a tattoo around her neck written “Patria o muerte”, which Fidel Castro said in his speech to the United Nations in 1964.
* Johnny worked in “Before Night Falls” for free, and just said to the
director: “Just put it on the screen.”
* Busy schedule: Before filming “Before
Night Falls, Johnny already had another filming to make, now as Cesar in the
movie “The Man Who Cried”.
was the first collaboration between Johnny and Javier Bardem. Their second
collaboration happens 17 years later, in 2017, working together now as Captain
Jack Sparrow and Captain Salazar in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No
takes 1h 12 minutes to Johnny finally appears as
Bon Bon. Seven minutes later he appears as Lieutenant
Victor. Johnny’s scenes longs for almost 10 minutes.
is also Johnny’s first and the only LGBT movie, but this is not the first time
he plays a character dressed as woman: In 1994, Johnny appears as Glenda, from the
“Glen or Glenda” movie project he, as Ed Wood, had about cross-dressing and
transsexuality, and in 1995 he also dressed as a harem girl in a scene from
“Don Juan DeMarco”. When he met John Waters to film
“Cry-Baby, Johnny said it was almost like love at first sight because he was
one of the funniest, most charming, intelligent, people he had ever known. When
a magazine asked if he was gay, Johnny denied, but if he were, he could fall in
love for John Waters because he would be a “prime catch”. Later Johnny faced accusations
of being anti-gay after being kissed for a man out of the blue while they went
out for a drink in a bar, but Waters protected him saying that Johnny “is the least homophobic hetero boy I have
ever met”. Years later in 2007, he was almost fired from the set of the
first Pirates of the Caribbean movie when he demonstrated for the first time
his version of how Captain Jack Sparrow would be in the movie. His eccentric
performance made the Disney executives worried asking things like: “What
the f*ck are you doing? What is that thing? Is it drunk, is it gay?”.
Johnny simply answered: “Didn’t you know
all my characters are gay?”. Johnny is the kind of men who doesn’t feel embarrassed
while hugging or kissing his male friends, and has always been open-minded about LGBT
characters. He even already said that he would come out
‘right away’ if he were gay: “Why sit and
be miserable” he says.
* Johnny had known Julian Schnabel for years from New York. When he called
and asked if Johnny wanted to play a small part as a transvestite in “Before
Night Falls”, he thought it would be easy once he thought he had to wear only a
bra and a dress. Later, when he saw himself acting dressed as Bon-Bon he found
out that he looked exactly like Sophia Loren.
* Javier Bardem had a
funny reaction when he saw Johnny fully dressed as Bon-Bon: “When I saw him dressed like a woman, I
said, “F*ck, man! Who’s that girl? What an ass!” Javier also said he had a
great time with Johnny: “He did an
amazing work, and he was very generous, very helpful… I admire him a great
deal, as an actor and a human being”.
Happy 19th Anniversary for “Before Night Falls”! On this day, September 3, the movie premiered at the 2000′s Venice Film Festival in Italy and Johnny made two small cameos playing the glamorous transvestite of El Morro Prison, Bon Bon and later the Lieutenant Victor, a prison interrogator who can’t resist stroking himself as he stares a portrait of Fidel Castro. (I’ll post this video today!)
This funny scene in “Blow” happens when George arrives at Logan International Airport, in Boston, and he has his suitcase
searched, ending up with the security finding a women’s underwear. George’s excuse “Old habits are hard to break old habits” can also be considered a reference to three previous characters Johnny had played:
1° = SHIRLEY: [Ed Wood – 1994]
This was the first time Johnny played a character dressed as woman. In real life, Ed Wood said that his mother used to dressed him in girls’ clothing as a child, once she’d like to have a daughter. Wood’s transvestism was not a sexual inclination, but rather a neomaternal comfort derived mainly from Angora fabric. Later, he kept wearing women’s clothes now while he was under his drag alter-ego, Shirley. (Click HERE for more curiosities and watch a video about “Ed Wood”)
2° = DON JUAN DEMARCO :
One year after “Ed Wood”, Johnny got dressed again as woman. In the movie, Don Juan tells that after the death of his father, his mother sent him overseas to purify him, but instead of Cadiz, in Spain, the ship´went to a Arabian harem. To not be killed, he kept
dressed in female clothes and wearing a vow to hid his face in a middle of 1,500 young women for two years. Like he says in the movie, he never knew why he was required to be in drag…
3° = BON BON:
Five years after Don Juan, Johnny dressed became the glamorous transvestite of El Morro Prison, in the movie “Before Night Falls”. Even though, Bon Bon says only one line, Johnny’s acting tells everything. In the movie, Bon Bon is famous during the night on the El Morro prison and also for being a
drug mule, known for being able to transport “unfathomable quantities in the deepness of his rectum, even if given a thorough ass check.”
> Click HERE for more curiosities and HERE to watch Johnny as Bon Bon.
Will Johnny make another cameo dressed as woman in the future? Only time will tell…
Johnny as Shirley (Ed Wood’s drag “alter ego”), in “Ed Wood”, 24 years ago.
“Ed Wood:I like to dress in women’s clothing. Georgie
Weiss: You’re a fruit?
No, not at all. I love women. Wearing their clothes makes me feel
closer to them. Georgie
Weiss: You’re not a fruit?
Ed Wood: No, I’m all man. I even fought in W.W.2. Of course, I was wearing
women’s undergarments under my uniform.”
was the first time Johnny played a character dressed as woman in a movie. In real life, Ed Wood said that his mother used to dressed him in girls’ clothing as a child, once she’d like to have a daughter. Wood’s transvestism was not a sexual inclination, but rather a neomaternal comfort derived mainly from Angora fabric.
that time, Johnny researched everything he could about transvestism, and even
received a package with literature and photographs from Miss Vera’s Finishing School
in New York City, a school for boys who want to be girls, instructing men on
how to behave like women. In a letter they attached, they wrote “We heard you were doing this film. We could
help you become a woman”. Johnny thought in cross the country just to investigate
what they were doing there, but thanked the help and kept his research in Los
Angeles: “I’m telling you. Being
a woman is hard. You’ve got all the makeup and bras and stuff – it’s a lot of
work. You can never fully understand what it’s like to be a woman until you
have to wear those clothes. And playing a transvestite is even harder. You have
to make a real commitment to it. You have to hide stuff and tuck it away and
it’s really quite painful. I’m telling you, I have a lot of respect for
One day, while filming, Johnny looked himself in a mirror and thought that he “was the ugliest woman he ever seen”
once he looked huge in those clothes, but got surprised with the comfort. And
to become more comfortable with the role, Johnny, as usual, got so deep in his
character that he was reported one time to have gone out for a drink fully
dressed with woman’s clothing: “It was
spookily comfortable. The only time I felt weird was when I had to do a
striptease. But I didn’t have any fear about what the audience might think. It would
have spoiled the effect if I had looked uneasy in any way. However, I am getting
better at walking in high heels.” 18 years later Johnny repeated the same
thought, but now while watching Alice Cooper performing in “Dark Shadows”: “Ugliest woman I have ever seen”.
has always being open minded, even in the 90’s when the homophobia rate was pretty
high, and people in drag used (and still
are) to be easy targets of prejudice. At that time some actors also used to
be concern about the consequences of dressing up in women’s clothing, but
Johnny didn’t worry about it. The audience and critics loved his performance.
His costume designer, Collen Atwood, even said that he looked great as a woman
and when she put him in Angora for the first time, she said: “God, he looks
Even though, Johnny became shy and picky about who was around when he
changed costume, one year later, in the 1995 “Don Juan DeMarco”, he appeared dressed
as a harem girl in a scene, and 5 years later, in
2000, Johnny makes his third performance as a transvestite in “Before Night
Will Johnny makes another cameo dressed as woman in the future? Only time will tell…