Las Marthas: Mexican-American debutantes and the coming-of-age industry
The annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas, is unlike any other.
Part of the world's largest celebration of George Washington’s birthday, this 114-year tradition features a select group of mostly Mexican-American girls chosen each year to dress in elaborate gowns representing iconic figures from America’s colonial history. The festival — dating from the aftermath of the US-Mexico War and shaped by the North-South tensions following the Civil War — resonates anew in a time of economic uncertainty and political tension over immigration. Las Marthas follows two girls as they prepare for this extraordinary rite of passage.
RELATED: The cost of tradition: Holding on to quinceañeras in the US
KPCC business and economics reporter Wendy Lee sat down with the filmmaker and other local experts on coming-of-age celebrations at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum Wednesday night. We explored the dollars and sense involved in three rites of passage celebrated here in Southern California: the Quinceañera, the Filipino debut, and the Jewish bat mitzvah.
Erin Ploss-Campoamor: Las Marthas producer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles.
Martha Navarro: Daughter of the owners of Lupita’s Bakery (est. 1985). In addition to Quinceañera cakes, Lupita’s provides catering and space for Quince (and other) celebrations.
Joe Arciaga: Active member of L.A.’s Filipino American community, and father to three daughters – the third of whom will celebrate her Debut in June 2014.
Tannaz Sasooni: Animation technical director who still looks back fondly on her big fat Persian Bat Mitzvah, held in 1990’s Encino, CA.