Finding the Love in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone

Jill Gleeson - EDGE Media Network
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May 24, 2017

On the Trail of the Iguana - John Huston's behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana in 1964. (These clips include great footage of Puerto Vallarta at the time of its "discovery" by the outside world.) See part two below

Gay jet-setters discovered Puerta Vallarta in the early 60s when director John Huston arrived to film "Night of the Iguana." Hair stylists, makeup artists and costumers - many part of Hollywood's gay creative community - descended on the sleepy town, which only had a population at that time of about 15,000 and wasn't easily accessible.

Elizabeth Taylor, then in the midst of a scandalous affair with "Iguana" star Richard Burton, brought along her "gay mafia" friends to keep her occupied when Burton was filming, and an international paradise for the LGBT community was born.

A decade or so later Humberto Esparza and Roberto Cuevas, who would become the city's first gay couple in the public eye, opened the fine dining establishment Le Bistro. It paved the way for more openly gay-owned businesses, like Balconies, the city's first gay bar, which debuted in the 80s.

When Taylor fought with Burton - a not-infrequent occurrence for that famously passionate, hard-drinking pair - she would flee to a friend, "Silver" Maria Cortez. Cortez's property, Rivera del Rio, would go on to play host to other Tinseltown luminaries like Raquel Welch and Ridley Scott.

Today, Alexander James Andriadis Killen, Cortez's grandson, owns the property, along with Garlands del Rio, also an LGBT-welcoming inn. He would like to see tourism officials and business owners market to more than primarily gay men.

"We need to be more than a party town," Killen explains. "We should be more inclusive to lesbian travelers, for example. There is so much more diversity in the LGBT community, and we need programming that reflects that diversity. Puerto Vallarta is such a great area for romantic weddings and honeymoons. We just have to tap into that market."

Killen might want a wider selection of smaller, kinder pleasures for LGBT tourists in PV, but Tim Wilson, founder of GAYPV magazine, dreams of a convention center-type space where international party planners can host large groups for a great party.

Read the rest at EDGE Media Network

Related: Mexico's Pacific Coast: On the Trail of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (The Telegraph)

Related: The Hornet Guide to Gay Puerto Vallarta (Unicorn Booty)

Related: Puerto Vallarta: How to Preserve and Promote Gay Paradise (EDGE Media Network)

  Learn about ACT LGBT Association of Commerce & Tourism

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