Scope and Content
Chicano Studies Research Center Library
Title: The Fire of Life: The Robert Legorreta - Cyclona Collection
Legorreta, Robert, 1952-
Identifier/Call Number: CSRC.0500
50 linear feet
Date (inclusive): 1933-2005
Abstract: This collection of papers, photos, LP records and three-dimensional objects represents the personal collection of the performance
artist Robert Legorreta, also known as Cyclona. Items of special interest include Cyclona's scrapbook and LP record and artifact
collection depicting representations of Latinos.
Physical Location: COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library
and Archive for paging information.
Language of Material:
, Spanish; Castilian
Open for research.
Gift of Robert Legorreta. Deed of gift on file at the CSRC archive office.
As a child Robert Legorreta, also known as Cyclona, recalls seeing Elvis Presley's television debut. This whetted his youthful
appetite for provocative entertainment. He also remembers the hit novelty song, "The Monster Mash" and how that song transformed
Halloween from an innocent candy and costume holiday for children into a subversive teenage rite of passage. Since that time,
he has been a performance artist and provocateur. In the guise of a Pagliacci-like clown, inspired by the subversion of The
Monster Mash and the sexuality of rock music, he laces his performances with subliminal and overt messages about race, gender
Born September 15, 1952 in El Paso, Texas, his family soon moved to East Los Angles in hopes of finding a better life. He
attended Belvedere Elementary, Griffith Junior High and Garfield High School, the last of which was also attended by the founding
member of the rock group Los Lobos as well as by artists Gronk and Mundo.
By the late 1960s Legorreta had become interested in what he felt was an aesthetic of hippie androgyny. He and his friend,
the artist Mundo, began to provoke some of the residents of East Los Angeles by parading down Whittier Boulevard in daring
drag costumes. These provocations came to the attention of the playwright Gronk (later artist) who had written a play, "Cockroaches
Have No Friends," which featured a part calling for a transvestite named "Cyclona." Robert Legorreta became Cyclona, improvising
the part, imbuing it with life, and, conversely, imbuing Legorreta with the persona he would identify with since that time.
Cyclona describes himself as a live art artist, bringing art to life. Although his performances can be interpreted as a cross
dresser's show, Cyclona does not identify as a transvestite and does not dress as a woman. He notes that he drapes himself
in fabrics and paints himself with exaggerated makeup. He challenges the audience to question their perceptions of gender
representation and stereotypes, as Cyclona says: "I am perception, perceive me as you will."
[Identification of item], The Fire of Life: The Robert Legorreta - Cyclona Collection, 500, UCLA Chicano Studies Research
Center, University of California, Los Angeles.
Processed by Michael Stone in 2017. Finding aid edited by Doug Johnson in 2021. The editing was conducted during the COVID-19
pandemic so there was no access to the physical collection.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of books, periodicals, photographs, artwork, writings, videos, and correspondence. There is also
a large amount of ephemera and artifacts that mostly depict kitschy or stereotypical images of Latinos. There is also a collection
of audio recordings, mostly vinyl records. They largely consist of Latin jazz and dance music, as well as easy listening,
surf music, and novelty records.
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Printed and Bound Materials
- Series 2. Scrapbook Materials
- Series 3. Photos and Art
- Series 4. Correspondence
- Series 5. Audio Materials
- Series 6. Artifacts
- Series 7. Video materials
- Series 8. Newspapers and Periodicals
- Series 9. Manuscripts
- Series 10. Ephemera
These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user
must assume full responsibility for any use of materials, including but not limited to infringement of copyright and publication
rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.
The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
East Los Angeles (Calif.)