The Stigmata

by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Four votive candles are lit in front of a row of pineapples. The candle in the center is a veladora of la Virgen de Guadalupe
Roberto Urrea [CC BY 2.0] via flickr

That I was ever allowed, at age eight, to view even a millisecond of the rented VHS of Purple Rain, much less the entire movie, is bewildering, but my parents were still married then and my dad was a big fan of His Purpleness. I dimly understood Purple Rain on the sexy tip—Prince and Appollonia wound around each other and wriggled a bunch. Also they went skinny-dipping.

The general expectation, in a Mexican Catholic family, was that sex was not something one ever spoke of or acknowledged, and also that I would be polite and faithful and chaste. At times I can remember mom’s hands over my ears during dirty jokes, mom’s hands over my eyes again during the more lurid parts of the Thriller video (pelvises). But somehow I peeked through the Purple Rain wormhole, which is to say I glimpsed its music and symbolism, remaining very little the wiser. Later, my parents got cable and Madonna came roaring through like a panther with a prominent navel. I am pretty sure my mom allowed Madonna into my world because she sounded like La Virgen—La Madonna—like a virgin—immaculate concepcion—get it. Madonna wore a rosary every day. She was God shit and therefore permissible.

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