Writer and performer Laura de la Fuente created the character Liz Behan spontaneously one day, while driving from Marfa back home to Austin.
“There was a lot of open road, I was with my wife next to me, and I had just bought this new hat,” de la Fuente says. “It was this gorgeous felt hat with leather around it and studs. [I] put on this hat while I was driving back and started singing this song, and it went ‘Open road, Texas sky … I love my wife and I’m a womaaaaaaan!’ And from there, Liz Behan was born.”
As a veteran improv comedy performer, she quickly realized that she’d created a promising new character. Around the same time, de la Fuente was branching out from improv to sketch comedy, as a member of the queer sketch team Martini Ranch. Liz Behan began to appear in Martini Ranch sketches and is now the central figure of de la Fuente’s one-woman sketch comedy show Liz Behan: One Woman at Dusk.
In the world of One Woman at Dusk, Liz Behan is a very famous, long-careered lesbian, Latinx country music star (or “legendary country dyke,” in de la Fuente’s words). “And so she has just this breadth – this deep anthology – of all of these songs that she’s written about her life as a lesbian,” de la Fuente says. “Some of them in the closet, some of them on a ranch, some of them reclaiming words. Any option that she had to write about her life, she would. And she would put that out into the world.”
De la Fuente says that, in creating Liz Behan, she’s created a celebrity that she wishes had been around when de la Fuente herself was growing up. “She walks big and tall and full of confidence and bravado. Bravada? Bravad-x!” she says. “And I love that confidence that Liz has. I think had I seen Liz [when I was] growing up, I would’ve felt more empowered. But I think that’s why I want to be her now. So if any little Latin girl who happens to like the way the girls smell on the playground a little bit more than the boys… If there’s someone out there who’s feeling like they might be a young queer girl, I want them to see Liz and say like, ‘Okay, yeah. That’s me. It’s gonna be okay.’”
While her love for Liz Behan is obvious, de la Fuente plays other characters in the show as well, all inspired by some aspect of her real life. “I’ll do seven characters total in this one hour… and all those characters are other parts of my life,” she says. “I play different characters that will explore my Latinx identity pretty hard. Some that explore current politics pretty hard, too. There’s also some that are just strictly absurd, and just funny.”