Bonnie Ilza Cisneros is a fourth-generation educator in a line of Tejana schoolteachers. She taught five years of middle school English in San Antonio Independent School District and received on-the-job-training in arts and culture programming con corazón at San Anto Cultural Arts. She wrote a creative nonfiction thesis at Texas State University, was altered forever at Macondo Writers Workshop in 2016, and was awarded the first artist grant she ever submitted from NALAC in 2018. Her poems and essays appear in El Retorno, Chicana/Latina Studies, River Teeth, El Placazo, Porter House Review, Infrarrealista Review, La Voz de Esperanza, Buckman Journal, and Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. Moonlighting as DJ Despeinada, she has been spinning all-vinyl soundscapes of the borderlands for over a decade. Throughout the pandemic, she has led workshops and published zines at San Antonio Public and Chicago Public libraries, presented lectures for community colleges and universities online, recorded radio shows for WFMU, and curated a vast variety of cultural experiences within her community as part of a creative mutual aid ecosystem of local artists who cross pollinate their talents, resources, and energies for collective healing. All the while, Bonnie and her partner raise two m’ijas and keep a coop of six gallinas in San Antonio, Texas. Her digital archive, an altar of Anzalduán autohistoria, is www.bonniecisneros.com.
At a time when I thought my DJ life was obsolete, Ruby City and SpareParts adapted their annual Bubble Fest as an online event. They asked me to record a backyard DJ set for the festival, and I was so relieved to be working again. My husband served as cinematographer, and we sorted through tech issues as we went. I chose songs that would be conducive for families at home to feel hopeful and calm during quarantine. The mise en scéne will always evoke emotions of early pandemic for me: the sunflowers, the kids\' bubble machine, our chickens. Home.
On Sunday, November 1, 2020, All Saints’ Day and Día de los Muertos Eve, DJ Despeinada, a Chicana spiritual activist from the borderlands of South Texas, broadcast a show entitled “Missing my Muertos” on WFMU’s Radio Row. El Día de los Muertos has ancient indigenous roots in what is now known as México with rituals and iconography that evolved after the European conquest and subsequent colonialism. More recently, the sacred season has morphed even further due to Coco-fication (thanks, Disney), also known as the pizza effect, in the form of plastic calaveras and Day of the Dead-themed paraphernalia sold at dollar stores and high-end boutiques alike. But the bottom line remains the same: this is the season when the dead come home. The show will feature music I gathered from my own private playlist of grieving and healing. As Nick Cave and friends insist: death is not the end.
On Valentine’s Sunday 2021, DJ Despeinada will pour her heart out for y’all with a selection of love songs from both sides of the border. She’ll weave in intriguing research, share juicy chisme, and perchance recite a love poem or two. Get ready for love!