BRUJOS is a queer-of-color, radically politicized web series following four gay Latino doctoral candidates--that are also witches. They navigate magic, sexuality, and surviving a witch-hunt led by a secret society of white heteronormative male descendents of the first New World colonizers.
Written and created by: Ricardo Gamboa
Co-directed by: Ricardo Gamboa and Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke
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TV can be art. TV can be revolutionary. TV can be popular entertainment AND incite critical dialogue. Audiences are hungry and intelligent enough for challenging work. This describes the philosophy behind BRUJOS, a counter-hegehmonic web series. Developed by Open TV (beta), conceived, written and directed by Ricardo Gamboa and to be shot by cinematographer Ben Kolak, BRUJOS is a queer-of-color web series.
BRUJOS blends the Latin American soap opera, American sitcom, and critical theory as it follows a coven of four queer Latino doctoral candidates as they learn magic, indulge in nightlife, navigate intimate relationships, and write seminar papers all while trying to survive a witch-hunt. These young protagonists confront histories and realities of racial and gendered inequality as they battle the secret society of white, heteronormative male descendants of the first New World colonizers behind the witch-hunt. Twelve, seven-minute episodes corresponding to signs of the zodiac cycle have been developed through queer men of color testimony; interviews with actual practitioners of divination and magic, i.e. psychics, santeras, tarot readers, etc.; and with academics of cultural studies, performance studies, and queer theory.
BRUJOS addresses the current the landscape of television: Gay men and people of color are more apparent than ever in mainstream television. Sitcoms like “Blackish” and “Fresh Off The Boat” depict families of color attaining the American dream. Programs such as “Looking” and “Modern Family” feature middle and upper class white gay men searching for love or functioning as an all-American family. While these shows are representational achievements, they are not revolutionary ones.
In these cases, ethnic, racial and sexual minorities are portrayed in ways that support dominant culture, narratives, values and relationality. Commercial television studios and networks preoccupied with “scale” and “big data” seldom produce aesthetically or politically challenging work to secure mass viewership. This only further marginalizes non-normative people who’s lives, realities, and stories do not fit within their depictions and who devise new ways of being under the pressures of inequality that are never affirmed.
Moreover, Chicago has become a hotbed for television production. However, series such as Chicago P.D. reiterate stereotypes of people of color as criminals. Mega-hit EMPIRE provides more complex portrayals but it’s get-rich-or-die-trying messaging is consistent with popular culture. Too often work that offers alternative images, narratives, and values is not seen as viable by mainstream producers.
For such reasons, Stephanie Jeter moved from big budget television producing to assume a critical and creative approach to television production. Jeter’s commitment to working with independent artists led her to BRUJOS. BRUJOS was conceived by Ricardo Gamboa, an award-winning “artivist” committed to creating work outside institutional frameworks. Gamboa began development for BRUJOS in 2014 through informal interviews with queer Latino men and healers and psychics.
BRUJOS matters. It is dark. It is funny. It is sincere. It is critical. It understands that we live in a world mired by inequalities and rationales that have a long history. Today’s episodes of violence and racial, gendered and social inequality have their roots Eurocentric colonization then Western capitalist globalization. In a world codified and conditioned by Western primacy of reason, capitalist logics of risk and profit, and hetero-patriarchal white supremacy, BRUJOS constitutes a radical alternative to dominant ways of relating, knowing, and feeling. BRUJOS ruminates on the lives of non-normative, queer and racialized subjects; centers on forgotten and marginalized authoritative bases of knowledge and agency such as magic, ritual, and enchantment; and explores subversion in everyday relations and spaces such as queer clubs, kinship and sex to invite alternative economies of risk and transaction, social and political ecologies, and radical intimacy.
- Ricardo Gamboa, creator, writer, co-director and star of BRUJOS