Zoot Suit Questions and Answers
by Luis Valdez

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How does el Pachuco transgress in this play?

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Zoot Suit is a play based on the Zoot Suit riots in Los Angeles, California, in 1943. The Zoot Suit riots were a series of riots between servicemen, Marines, and young Mexican-Americans (pachucos). The female equivalent to a pachuco is a pachuca. Pachucos favored the wearing of zoot suits, with their long, baggy pants and mid-thigh length jackets. At the time, zoot suits were symbols of ostentatious fashion and rebellion. The Zoot Suit riots were a frustrated response by Mexican-Americans (mostly young men) against the injustices of the 1942 Sleepy Lagoon Trial, where members of the 38th Street Gang were wrongly accused of the murder of Jose Williams.

Henry Reyna is the protagonist of the play; his character is based on the real-life leader of the 38th Street Gang, Henry Leyvas. Henry Leyvas died in 1971. El Pachuco is Henry's alter ego; he is also the master of ceremonies at dances as well as the embodiment of the Aztec deity of the night, Tezcatlipoca.

SO, how does El Pachuco transgress...

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