Agador, and his flagrant Guatemalan-ness

Agador, today’s morning name, which I quickly expanded to Agador Spartacus. Calling up wonderful images of Hank Azaria’s character in the comedy film The Birdcage:

In the movie, Agador is male couple Armand and Albert’s flamboyantly gay Guatemalan housekeeper / maid, who poses as a Greek butler named Spartacus for the purposes of a family charade on behalf of Armand’s son Val; you can watch a short clip of  a bewigged Agador dancing while feather-dusting here

Background basics. From Wikipedia:

The Birdcage is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Mike Nichols, adapted by Elaine May, and starring Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski appear in supporting roles.

And in my 10/6/18 posting “News for French penises”, see the section on the play, film, and musical La Cage aux Folles (and their offspring the film The Birdcage). The French originals are entertaining drag comedies, while Birdcage is a hyperbolic but affectionate comedy about family relationships and tolerance. The characters Albert (played by Nathan Lane) — the way-fem star drag performer in the nightclub his man Armand (played by Robin Williams) manages — and their maid Agador (plus the outrageous decor of Albert and Armand’s apartment) supply the over-the-top material.

Agador is certainly wildly exaggerated, but Azaria’s characterization is only a bit past some good friends of mine (not to mention a housecleaner Jacques and I once had in Columbus OH) and is in no way a mockery (also, Azaria “does voices”, and he has a lot of fun with Agador’s voice quality and accent — which is, Azaria has reported, much like one of his grandmother’s). He’s foolish but adorable and comically energetic, great fun to watch. Two quotes (you have to imagine the accent, alas):

— Agador’s flagrant Guatemalan-ness:

Agador : Armand, why don’t you let me be in the show? Are you afraid of my Guatemalan-ness?

Armand : Your what?

Agador : My Guatemalan-ness, my natural heat. You’re afraid I’m too primitive to be on the stage with your little estrogen rockettes, right?

— the whole Ricardo package in a single body:

Armand : [Sees Agador dancing around while cleaning in a red wig]  You look like Lucy’s stunt double.

Agador : No, I’m a combination of Lucy and Ricky.

Armand : And it’s terrifying.

On re-watching the movie — it’s a favorite of mine — it became clear that the principal actors were having a lot of fun making it, and it turns out that entertaining accidents and goofing just got incorporated into the film.

And on Azaria’s background, from Wikipedia:

Henry Albert Azaria was born in the Queens borough of New York City … on April 25, 1964, the son of Ruth Altcheck and Albert Azaria. His grandparents on both sides were Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki. His family spoke Ladino, also known as Judaeo-Spanish, which he described as “a strange, antiquated Spanish dialect written in Hebrew characters.” … Before marrying his father, Azaria’s mother had been a publicist for Columbia Pictures, promoting films in Latin American countries as she was fluent in both English and Spanish. During his childhood, Azaria would often “memorize and mimic” the scripts of films, shows, and stand-up comedy routines he enjoyed.

The name Agador. It looks like a Spanish agent noun with the suffix –dor, but I could find no evidence of any such noun in Spanish, nor of Agador used as a personal name in Spanish; the name seems to have been entirely invented for the purpose of the movie.

The closest Spanish agent noun I could find is asador ‘roaster, spit, grill’. The only proper noun Agador I found is in the three-word name Caribbean Village Agador — a resort hotel in Agadir, Morocco. Both utterly unlikely to have anything to do with Azaria’s character.

3 Responses to “Agador, and his flagrant Guatemalan-ness”

  1. Gadi Says:

    There’s also the word “aguador” meaning a person who sells water.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    My take on Ladino (which I learned about from a local quartet who specialized in Sephardic music) is, essentially: Ladino:Spanish::Yiddish:German.

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