Rico Rodriguez is, above all else, a storyteller. Whether it’s through his writing, drag performances, his soulful percussion work or his career as a teacher – the story is at the heart of everything he does. Along with enthralling listeners for years with folktales and legends from the rich and diverse Latino and Hispanic cultures, he writes and tells stories about his own life and family using the same easy style and masterful use of humour he has become known for. In the words of the late Helen Carmichael Porter “…his stories come from living between two cultures which seem to have developed his sensitive ear and eye.” Equity and social change are core issues he revisits often in his work as a founding member of “Queers in Your Ears” an annual LGBTQ+ storytelling event celebrating its 25th anniversary, part of The Toronto Storytelling Festival.
Rico’s community outreach is tireless. He has designed and facilitated storytelling workshops on how to use of the art of storytelling in community development work and educational settings for Community Agencies, Health Promotion Agencies, High Schools, and Universities. In addition, he was also Storyteller in Residence for T.E.A.C.H. (Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia) a program of Planned Parenthood of Toronto, and designed storytelling training for students from equity-seeking groups to tell personal testimonies in the Equity Conferences for Teacher-candidates at York University and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. He has been heard on CBC radio and on National Public Radio in the U.
Which ‘hood are you in?
Parkdale and Gay Village (Church and Wellesley)
What do you do?
I am a teacher and a storyteller. But I’m also a semi-retired drag queen and percussionist.
What are you currently working on?
I am revamping a series of stories I have written to be told about LatinX Queer men living in Toronto. This series is called “LatinQueerMerican II”. I have also been working on the story I will tell during the Toronto Storytelling Festival and the 25th anniversary of our Queer’s in Your Ears performance titled, “Free from it in my Body, but not Free From it in my Mind” which recounts the process of getting tested for HIV in the 80s.
Where can we find your work normally?
At The Festival of Storytellers, Queers In Your Ears events, 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling at the US National Storytellers Network Conferences, my Facebook Page links to performances on Youtube, I have told at True Stories Told Live, Raconteurs, Dare and other events and venues around town