Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez is taking their land back

Studio 34 presents She Was A Conquistawhore

2 minute read
O'Hanlon-Rodriguez in performance, in cowboy attire, steps onto stage in front of the audience, their face wide with exclaim
'She Was A Conquistawhore' hits Studio 34 this week. (Photo by Kalen Jesse.)

“I’m a second generation American,” Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez, the creator and star of She Was A Conquistawhore explains. “My family comes from Ireland and Puerto Rico, two islands that have had deep colonialism through different tactics and timelines. Unpacking all of that in the show feels very exciting in the context of thinking of my body as land. My body is a byproduct of how this land has been treated.” Hosted by Studio 34 Yoga, this absurdist comedy promises laughs, lies, and lone rangers treating their wounds with liquor on June 29 and June 30, 2024.

Expansion in real-time

“The Conquistawhore drinks her weight in whiskey, brawls her own vagina because her vagina … well, he makes terrible decisions,” one promotion reads, “Together, they roam the Wild West looking for a quick hookup or maybe some transformational healing. Their trials and tribulations weave together a legend.”

O’Hanlon-Rodriguez began developing this exploration of gender identity, intergenerational trauma, and healing back in 2019. It was during a June performance of the show that the writer realized onstage in real time that neither man nor woman was a fitting gender label. It was only through the vulnerability of refining the show that O’Hanlon-Rodriguez realized their own nonbinary identity.

“I started unpacking my own pronouns again and I came back with even more of a gender expansion,” O’Hanlon-Rodriguez explains. "I think what it says to me is that our lives are constantly ever-changing. If we allow our bodies to experience that in real-time, we can grow in ways we probably never imagined. But if we keep ourselves in these boxes that we think are made for us, that’s where we get stuck and confused about where we’re going.”

The show asks, how do we heal from the erasure of identity?

“Coming from colonized people and then being born here, I am very aware that my body can’t really exist in a lot of other spaces, historically. I am truly a product of America. And yet it feels like America hates me and doesn’t see me.”

The artist explores that particular kind of erasure through the lens of the idealized American cowboy. Why does the Clint Eastwood image of the lone white gunman prevail over Spanish conquistadors who brought horses to North America, the Native tribes wielding the horses, the Black and brown cowboys, and Mexican vaqueros? The answer lies in the Wild West (Philadelphia).

What, When, Where

She Was A Conquistawhore. By Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez and presented with Die-Cast Collective, directed by Cat Ramirez, music performed live by Chris Sannino. $10-$20, sliding scale; no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. June 29-30, 8pm, at Studio 34 Yoga, 4522 Baltimore Avenue. (215) 387-3434, [email protected], or studio34yoga.com.


There is a steep flight of stairs leading up to the space.

Sign up for our newsletter

All of the week's new articles, all in one place. Sign up for the free weekly BSR newsletters, and don't miss a conversation.

Join the Conversation