Erika Lopez

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Erika Lopez
Born 1968
New York City
Occupation novelist, cartoonist, performance artist
Nationality American
Notable works Flaming Iguanas, They Call Me Mad Dog!, Hoochie Mama

Erika Lopez (born 1968) is an American cartoonist, novelist, and performance artist of Puerto Rican descent who has published six books and speaks openly of her bisexuality.[1] She lives in San Francisco, California.

Life and education[edit]

Erika Lopez was born in New York City and is the daughter of two civil rights activists, a Puerto Rican father, Rafael Lopez-Sanchez; and a German-American mother, Deborah Reese.[2] During most of her high school years, she was raised in the New Jersey suburbs outside of Philadelphia by her mother and her mother's lesbian partner, and was brought up Quaker.[3] Lopez attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and also studied at Moore College of Art and Design and the University of the Arts.[4] She later moved to San Francisco, California.


As a struggling artist, Lopez applied for and received grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, each of which gave her $2500 to write.[4] A cross-country motorcycle trip served as inspiration for her first illustrated novel, Flaming Iguanas (1997), which includes numerous images made with rubber stamps and was published by Simon & Schuster.[5][6][7] That same year she published a book of cartoon stories called Lap Dancing for Mommy. Lopez went on to publish two additional illustrated novels with Simon & Schuster, They Call Me Mad Dog! (1998) and Hoochie Mama: The Other White Meat (2001) before her relationship with Simon & Schuster's publisher, David Rosenthal, soured (they've since kissed and made up and are actually friends, as she now refers to Rosenthal as her "maker" for letting her have her way with her career right away, making her the "megalomaniacal monster" she says she is today). These three books form a trilogy of very-loosely autobiographical novels which describe the exploits of "Tomato Rodríguez" (Lopez has stated that the novels are not autobiographical, but that there are intersections between her life and the experiences of Tomato).[8]

After a stint on welfare, and while touring her show, Lopez decided that the people in the suits didn't know how to run the arts industries, or the country's economy, and so she decided to take her fate into her own hands and become a "mini-mogul."

Along with James Swanson, Kamala Lopez, and Jeffrey Hicken, they started a book publishing company, Monster Girl Media to go along with Monster Girl Movies, as a part of their coalition of Do-it-Yourself businesses in charge of their own development, production, merchandising, and promotion. Their first publication is "The Girl Must Die: A Monster Girl Memoir" (2010) along with the matching, "The Girl Must Die: 18 Postcards."

They work with a rotating roster of other Monster Girls Mujers and Men like Alison Penton Harper, Bianca Laureano, Kate Gottli, Suzanne Rush, and Peter Maravelis.

Performance art[edit]

Lopez is best known for the characters of “Grandma Lopez” and "The Welfare Queen" ( which she created after she began to receive welfare after her fight with Simon & Schuster.[4] These characters are at the heart of Lopez's performance piece Nothing Left but the Smell: A Republican on Welfare, which she has performed at locations as varied as San Francisco (California), New York City, Edinburgh (Scotland), London and Manchester (England), and Oslo (Norway).[4] The text of this performance piece has been published in a self-edited artist edition and is also available online.[9]

Online presence[edit]

Lopez maintains a "clog" or cartoon blog at, in addition to her personal website. She also has a sites for Monster Girl Media (, her show, "The Welfare Queen" (, and Monster Girl Movies (, with which she is trying to make film versions of her works.

Published works[edit]

  • I Love You Like a Sister Said Erika Lopez. San Francisco: Erika Lopez, 1995.
  • Lap Dancing for Mommy: Tender Stories of Disgust, Blame and Inspiration. Seattle: Seal Press, 1997. ISBN 1-878067-96-6
  • Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-684-83722-6
  • They Call Me Mad Dog!: A Story for Bitter, Lonely People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998. ISBN 0-684-84941-0
  • Hoochie Mama: La otra carne blanca (The Other White Meat). New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-684-86974-8
  • Grandma López's Country-Mad Fried Chicken Book. Nothing Left But the Smell: A Republican on Welfare. San Francisco: Tiny-Fisted Book Publishers, 2003.
  • The Girl Must Die: A Monster Girl Memoir. Monster Girl Media, 2010. ISBN 0-9844014-0-7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Torres, Lourdes. "Boricua Lesbians: Sexuality, Nationality, and the Politics of Passing." CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 19.1 (Spring 2007): 230-49. Retrieved on July 7, 2009.
  2. ^ La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009, page 126. ISBN 0-8166-4092-0
  3. ^ May, Sandra. "Erika Lopez: 20 Questions" Archived January 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. Philadelphia City Paper July 17–24, 1997. Retrieved on July 7, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Bio on Erika Lopez Home Page, retrieved on July 7, 2009.
  5. ^ La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. "Cultures of the Puerto Rican Queer Diaspora." In Passing Lines: Sexuality and Immigration, eds. Brad Epps, Keja Valens, and Bill Johnson González, 275-309. Cambridge, MA: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Harvard University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-674-01885-0
  6. ^ Laffrado, Laura. "Postings from Hoochie Mama: Erika López, Graphic Art, and Female Subjectivity." In Interfaces: Women, Autobiography, Image, Performance, eds. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, 406-29. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. ISBN 0-472-09814-4
  7. ^ Cooper, Sara. "Queer Family and Queer Text in Flaming Iguanas". CiberLetras 16 (January 2007). Retrieved on July 7, 2009.
  8. ^ Mite. "Interview with Erika Lopez". The Chickenfish Speaks. Summer 1999. Retrieved on July 7, 2009.
  9. ^ Lopez, Erika. Nothing Left but the Smell. Retrieved on July 7, 2009.

External links[edit]