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Mi Alma, Mi Vida: Veneno

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Everyone knows that phrase “A Star is Born”. But how the star got there is the more interesting part. I’m not talking about a three page article in some magazine. Hearing it from them. Their life, their story, what got them to where they are:

“Veneno” tells two true stories. Christina “La Veneno” Oriz, a Spanish’s trans icon. Known for being unapologetically herself. She was basically Spain’s version of Anna Nicole Smith. The other of future author Valeria Vegas, a young student on the road to self discovery.  It tells a story of self acceptance, self love, friendship, and the rise and fall of fame. I honestly knew nothing of La Veneno before this series. Finding out about this show by scrolling on social media. After some research and seeing the trailer, I was very excited to see her story. 

Based on the book “¡Digo! Ni puta ni santa. Las memorias de La Veneno” by Valeria Vegas. You can translate that on your own, for fun. The 8 part mini series premiered on spanish streaming service ATRESplayer before debuting internationally on HBO Max. 

Please be advised that the series is rated TV-MA. There is a lot of profanity, nudity, graphic sex scenes, and violence. 

So what did I like about this series? It's real and raw. It shows everything (yes everything!) from a real angle without being too graphic. Giving you just enough. On another note, It gets a little scary at some points that you fear for safety. But I liked that. This story shouldn’t be candy coated. 

It’s in Spanish! Christina “La Veneno” Ortiz is a gay icon from Spain. So it’s fantastic that this is a Spanish production. HBO Max offers the show dubbed. But personally it’s not the same. Take the time and watch it with subtitles. It makes a big difference.

The story telling. Especially the flashback scenes. It's very over the top and I love it. Even using scene changes. It felt like watching a play. More like an Opera.  The narrating was superb. Having different people take turns, even in the same scene was a nice touch. I loved how a character would be in a scene narrating what’s going on. A fun touch. 

The way the show was done as a whole. The cinematography, the visual elements, the lighting, THE LIGHTING, the costumes, the editing. A lot of thought and passion was put into this and you can tell. Very stylish, but also a time capsule throughout the decades without being cheesy. It’s very well done. 

Episode 5. My favorite of the series. It really shows the highs and lows of la veneno’s fame. Showing what money and fame can do. Not only to the star but to the people around them. 

I have to do a separate section for some of the actors. The acting was superb. Real and heartfelt. While still funny, campy and crass. I have to give some shoutouts. 

Lola Rodriguez as Valeria Vegas. There are many different stories in the LGBT community. A common misconception is that it’s all sad and horrible. I appreciate Valeria’s story and the way it’s performed. I appreciate this a lot. Most shows that have trans characters don’t show the entire process. Literally from beginning to end. It was really brave and compelling to see. Also it was nice that it’s not the focal point. It’s almost a subplot but a good one. 

Jedet, Daniela Santiago and Isabel Torres as La Veneno. While they all play the character at different ages. They capture the charisma and spirit. They are just so captivating when they are on screen. Kudos to them for their performances 

Paca "La Piraña" as herself. Giving the sense of realism to la veneno’s fame and lifestyle. Almost a mother-like figure and best friend at the same time. You want just hug her every time she appears 

Mariona Terés as Amparo. Her acting is effortless. More than just your typical best friend role. She’s funny, has an attitude and sassy. But under that has a heart and it shows.

I have no dislikes for this show. To me each episode was perfect. Treated almost like a mini movie. It was made incredibly well.

So what’s my opinion of “Veneno”. It was fantastic. Honestly one of the best series I’ve seen all year. A series created with love to tell the story of a pioneering trans icon. I applaud HBO Max for bringing this show in from Spain. Shows like this are not made here often, even for streaming. Especially when it’s a true story on someone not well known to the masses. But in the spirit of La Veneno you do it anyway. 

“Veneno” is available for streaming on HBO MAX

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