For this Anniversary Edition of Garden Spices Magazine, the theme is “Power.” Now, my column hasn’t always followed the theme for each particular edition, so this time I not only wanted to follow the theme, but I also wanted to incorporate it into the essence of Garden Spices – diversity. I am always thinking about subject matter content, and one evening a few weeks ago it clicked. I was having dinner with friends, a glass of wine, and there sitting directly in front of me, I realized, was my next subject. I am very pleased to introduce you to Adora.
I first met Adora in the early 1990’s – an extravagant, glamorous, joyful personality by whom I was immediately enraptured. Her warmth, kindness, brilliantly absurd and luxurious sense of fashion style, ease and grace in front of any audience, and hilarious performance artistry, were like nothing I had ever seen before. As a Mistress of Ceremonies, she moves gracefully, speaking both English and Spanish in such a way that everyone understands, even if they speak neither. I was struck by how she remembered people in the audience, making eye contact, calling folks by name, asking how they were doing… connecting in a personal way. She is larger than life, living up to her name in every way.
What struck me then, and continues to impress me, was that Adora’s humor is not only intelligently hilarious, it is kind. She delivers her brilliant one-liners in a way that is not hurtful. Some performance artists of this genre employ a biting style that, while funny, can also be offensive. This style narrows the scope of the artist’s potential audience. Every day, we come across people who are dealing with issues in their lives about which we have no idea. Targeting someone without knowing that they might be on the edge of depression is a risk compassionate people avoid, so when I see kindness, I take notice.
I wouldn’t meet the genius behind Adora until several weeks later, as Danilo de la Torre is a different person. In fact, it took me a few minutes over lunch with several friends back in before I realized with whom I was eating (it was an inflection in the voice that gave it away), an energy too – a style so self-aware and confident, that extensive communication occurs with few words. Life took us in different directions as it does, so it would be several years later before I would run into Danilo again, and we picked up our friendship where we left it off, as if time had never passed.
When Adora and I reconnected, I was again reminded of this artist’s brilliance. Not only has Adora survived the various iterations of South Beach for nearly thirty years, she has thrived, affectionately known as the Queen of South Beach, even though her influence extends beyond US borders. Adora has performed for the masses, for celebrities, politicians and high society; she has been Mistress of Ceremonies from stage to screen, from cabaret to club, from parade to Prada, from the money to the Mayor, and she is one of South Florida’s most beloved personalities.
Adora’s incredible potential to reach a diverse international audience makes her an outstanding candidate to enter the commercial, cinematic and television platforms, and I decided to take her on as a client for my public relations firm. We are currently conducting a search for a talent representation agent for Adora, and the response has been nothing short of remarkable.
I caught up with Adora for a Cuban coffee at a café in downtown Miami’s legal district, her extravagant hair and joyful fashion catching the breeze blowing off the bay, as Miami’s elite attorneys and Judges walked by, smiling and saying hello (she is the Queen, remember). I wanted to ask Adora a few questions, so you’ll get to know her a little better; I know you’re going to just ADORE-HA!
RJ: Darling, you look absolutely radiant today.
Adora: Ay, thank you Papi. It’s not easy to be this beautiful.
RJ: I can only imagine. Thank you for agreeing to meet me. Looking around, I can’t help but see how happy people are when they see you – it is very sincere.
Adora: (Smiling graciously with those brilliant lips and batting those amazing eyelashes.)
RJ: So tell me, who is Adora?
Adora: Adora was born as a product of “The Adora Sisters,” a duet formed by Carlos Rodriguez and Danilo de la Torre. In 1991, Carlos passed away and Danilo kept the name and continued his solo career as “Adora,” a unique, over-the-top, cartoon-like persona.
RJ: If someone who has never experienced a performance artist like Adora before meets her for the first time – let’s say someone who may not have a lot of open-minded experiences – what would Adora want say to them?
Adora: Adora is for everybody. Her performances range from comedy to drama, [she performs] one of the best renditions of La Lupe, Yma Súmak, and Maria Callas, also Jannis Joplin, Mina, Shirley Bassey, Edith Piaf, etc. I would say to them, “Adora makes people happy; she’s just like you, with feelings, dreams, hopes, fears… Adora is no different than any other human being. Except maybe more cartoonish.”
RJ: Adora was invited by the Mayor of the City of Miami Beach to help host the celebrations of its 100-Year Centennial Celebrations. How did Adora become so loved by South Florida, that she was invited to this event?
Adora: Adora has been part of the South Florida community for more than twenty years, performing continuously in night clubs, theater, and many community events, always present and ready to help. She is seen as a leader and a pioneer for many, from the earliest days at the very beginning of South Beach’s popularity. I’m not surprised she was part of the 100th Anniversary of Miami Beach. Adora is Miami Beach!
RJ: Take me through a day in the life of Adora – how does it start, what does she do, where does she go?
Adora: Adora gets up late – always late – and then the day starts: a shot of Cuban coffee and then the phone calls start flying. There’s always a trip to the seamstress, the hairdresser, besides many rehearsals, because there is always a show to do. Late afternoon, time for a siesta, then work – it’s show time!
RJ: Finish this sentence, “Adora makes people feel…”
Adora: Adora always makes people feel happy, comfortable, relaxed, and also nervous… in a good way.
RJ: Explain how Adora does that.
Adora: Just by being Adora; it’s the good vibes and happiness – also, how can you not be happy when you see this color palette coming?
RJ: Absolutely! Every time I see you, I smile from the inside out! If Adora were the President of the United States, what would be the five most important things she would do first?
- Redecorate the White House and the landscape and add a pool;
- Change the color of the Presidential limousines to red;
- No more black, boring suits for the Secret Service, multi-colored Gucci suits;
- Free hair care for all Americans; and
- Make bad fashion illegal.
RJ: (cracking up) Okay, here’s a more serious topic: How does Adora feel about all the racial issues and violence that is so much in the public media right now?
Adora: She feels horrible, racism is a bad, bad thing – it shouldn’t exist. It keeps a society from developing and going forward. It creates hate and that is the opposite of Adora’s philosophy, which is love, love, love one another. Then, let’s have a good time.
RJ: What does Adora think of her role as a performance artist? What is her purpose?
Adora: Performing is a need. Adora was born to be on stage, in front of an audience. That’s her life; it’s everything. The only purpose is entertainment, and making sure everyone in the room, from the cleaning person to the birthday person – all of them must have a good time when Adora is here.
RJ: When Adora is invited by the Sultan of Brunei to perform for his Majesty, what does she bring with her?
Adora: Cafe con Leche and Pastelitos de Guyaba.
RJ: (laughing hysterically; after composure): Finish this sentence, “Adora feels sad when…”
Adora: Discrimination, abuse of the environment, and especially animal abuse… that’s a NO! NO! NO!
RJ: Oh, I am with you on those, Adora. (There’s a crowd gathering around us now, cameras, cell phones, and people eagerly waiting to speak with the fabulous Adora.) I know your fans are waiting, and you never disappoint, so I’ll just ask you one more question: When Adora’s journey on this planet is done, and she is ready to move on to her next adventure, what does she want her legacy to be?
Adora: That’s a difficult one. Being remembered as a good human being who always tried to do the right thing; being remembered as somebody who had lots of love and gave lots of love. Oh yes, and somebody who had very good hair!
I quickly stand to take her chair, and with regal elegance, she rises as I pull her chair away. A kiss on the cheek, she turns to her fans, who begin encircling her: photographs, autographs, hugs and kisses.
I quietly leave the outdoor café. Her Majesty, Queen Adora, is working.
– RJ Starr, Columnist
Photo credit:Cotton candy hair, green tulle/chiffon, green velvet gloves: Photograph courtesy of Dennis Dean
Photo credit: Red background, yellow hair, Cosmopolitan martini: Photograph courtesy of Dale Stine Photography