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Santana’s transgender comments a total stunner

Updated August 25, 2023 - 6:01 pm

I’ve seen dozens of Carlos Santana performances over the years in Las Vegas. These shows date to his residency productions beginning about 15 years ago at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, and include many at his current home on the Strip, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.

We’ve also visited Guadalajara, Mexico, a decade ago and Beacon Theatre in New York City in June for the premiere of the documentary “Carlos,” due out the last weekend of September.

In that time, never have I heard Santana say anything — from the stage or directly — that didn’t promote peace, harmony or conclusion. It’s been blessings and miracles, in spirit, and “Blessings and Miracles,” musically, all the way.

That’s what makes what Santana has said and apologized for this week such a stunner. Video surfaced this week of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer playing a show at Etess Arena at Hard Rock and Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., where he embarked on an unscripted monologue, sharing his thoughts on the transgender culture.

“When God made you and me, before we came out of the womb, you know who you are and what you are,” the guitar great and Vegas resident says in the clip. “Later on when you grow up, and you see things and you start believing that you could be something that sounds good but you know it ain’t right, because a woman is a woman and a man is a man — that’s it.”

Santana continued,“Whatever you wanna do in the closet, that’s your business, I’m OK with that,” then held his hands together and said, “I am like this with my brother Dave Chappelle.”

Chappelle has drawn criticism for his anti-LGBTQ comments in his 2021 Netflix comedy special “The Closer.”

This is a Woodstock-sized distance from the peace-preaching monologues Santana delivers during his House of Blues shows. He commonly mentions such artistic and spiritual idols as Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, John Lennon and Herbie Hancock.

Asked for an explanation of the comments that emerged this week, Santana’s reps said he simply “misspoke” and referred to a statement from the rock star’s Facebook page. Fans noticed the message dropped on Friday morning, during what reps said was an update to the page, but was later returned. This is his full statement:

“I am sorry for my insensitive comments. They don’t reflect that I want to honor and respect all person’s ideals and beliefs. I realize that what I said hurt people and that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to the transgender community and everyone I offended.

“Here is my personal goal that I strive to achieve every day. I want to honor and respect all person’s ideals and beliefs whether they are LGBTQ or not. This is the planet of free will and we have all been given this gift. I will now pursue this goal to be happy and have fun, and for everyone to believe what they want and follow in your hearts without fear. It takes courage to grow and glow in the light that you are and to be true, genuine, and authentic. We grow and learn to shine our light with Love and compliments. Have a glorious existence. Peace.”

Beyond that, it remains a highly unexpected, out-of-character moment from the 75-year-old rocker. I revert to a chat in May, just as the “Carlos” premiere in New York was announced.

“Ever since I was a child, I have had a pursuance to center stage, the epicenter, bringing together Irish, Japanese, Apaches, Africans,” Santana said, locking his hands. “There are not many bands that can do that.” That is more characteristic of the artist I have known.

Raincheck at Harrah’s

“X Country” and “Menopause The Musical” paused at Harrah’s Cabaret because of water damage caused by recent rainstorms. The rain that cascaded from the ceiling of the second-floor venue knocked out “X Country” through the week.

That show — the first ticketed Strip production to come back after the COVID shutdown — returns Monday.

“Menopause” was also pulled from the stage on Aug. 17, but did perform Aug. 18 before breaking as scheduled, returning Sept. 5. Damage to the wooden flooring at Harrah’s Showroom has also been reported, but being repaired so Donny Osmond will return as scheduled Sept. 5. “Hyprov” has been off throughout, returning to the trance Sept. 13.

Tease this …

A cool concept, related to a specific decade, is development for a too-long-unused venue at a major Strip resort.

And this …

Immersive, interactive and critically applauded experience is also moving into a major Strip resort. This one has a brief history in VegasVille.

Cool Hang Alert

Returning to the topic of Harrah’s …

The Twins dueling piano show at the Piano Bar runs 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Kimberly and Tamara Pinegar’s festival of sing-alongs packs the place. Slip them a request, and also a tip. No cover.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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