"They're all hot," Las Poetas cofounder Jackie Madrigal says of the meat on the bidding block. "But it's not just objectification of men. We want to show the rest of the nation that we have a lot of arts and culture here in Kansas City."
They'll get their chance when the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture holds its national convention downtown in October. Las Poetas, a small band of local writers founded in 1997, will read at the Folly Theater in conjunction with the conference; they hope to have some snappy new chapbooks on hand and need cash to fund the publication. The poets just read at a benefit for a domestic-violence support group, so it seemed only right to seek men's help on the good side of the fight. They found allies in their male fans.
"They see our readings, they see how powerful we are," Madrigal says. "They really want to see us succeed."
It's not lost on a group of writers, the irony of selling hot bodies to benefit a female contingency so often objectified. But surely a little man-ogling at Los Papis Mas Chulos Bachelor Auction is just a means to further Las Poetas' mission -- to tear down stereotypes of Latinas.
"Latin women are just seen as hot, curvy things," Madrigal says. "But all of us in Las Poetas are smart, educated women. We've gone to college. We're professionals."
And the poets don't just represent women. They write to expose the Latin American experience of both sexes.
"It's not chips and salsa. Not all of us speak Spanish. Not all men display machismo," Madrigal says. "Everything we write is Latina, because it comes from us. You can't really pinpoint it -- there's so many different types and subcultures. Whatever we write, that's the Latina experience. The Latina American experience."