I have only met Rufino once, but when we saw each other and realized who the other person was we gave each other a big hug. Rufino is such a force of exuberance. Everyone needs a Rufino in their life. When he sent me back his questions, I notice he had answered almost 80 of them. When I was preparing his interview the toughest thing was to pare these down, because he provided so many great responses that were intelligent, witty or downright fun to read. I did my best. I hope you enjoy reading about this amazing man as much as I did.
Rufino Cabang, was born at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California, about twenty minutes away from his hometown of Laguna Beach. Rufino said, “I’m an Orange County kid. I got where I am by putting one foot in front of the other, and, in later years, taking direction from those much wiser than I. I drank for a few years, and when I finally sobered up, I found my path clearer and healthier. Which has led me to this interview. I don’t think anyone would’ve wanted to hear about me when I was still drinking.”
Rufino is a freelance writer and communications coordinator. He currently lives in Glendale, California, but he said, “I do spend a lot of time with family in my hometown of Laguna Beach, where I have fun in Community Theater. My friend Bree Burgess Rosen runs “No Square Theatre” there, and I’m fortunate to participate once or twice a year, contributing comedy material, singing, dancing, and narrating. I also work part-time in a recovery house, helping people find their way back to real living, from the depths of addiction.”
When asked what he is passionate about, Rufino said, “I love making people think and laugh. I’m absolutely passionate about entertaining — I consider myself an entertainer. Whether it’s in print, in an image or on stage. I want people to enjoy themselves while finding humor in their own lives. It’s not all about me. It’s about relating to others. If someone relates to me and finds comfort in that, then I’m doing my work as an entertainer.”
Though he has done some pretty fun and exciting things, when asked what he was most proud of, Rufino said, “Learning to love someone. I’ve loved and been in love with, a wonderful man for eleven years now and I’m happy to say he loves me back. At least, he says so. That’s always the big mystery, right? You can never really know what someone’s thinking.”
Currently, Rufino doesn’t have any shows coming up, but he said, “I’d like all of you to remember my funny name. If you notice my name connected with any shows or projects, know that I’m usually hoping to entertain you in some way. “Rufino Cabang.” The exclamation point is implied.”
Sure, and thanks for asking! Here’s something called “Filipino.” I wrote new lyrics to the beautiful ABBA song “Fernando,” and performed this in my autobiographical evening of musical parody, The Fauxriginal Soundtrack:
What advice would you give the teenage you?
Stop worrying about being fat. You’re not fat. But you might want to amp up the sunscreen.
What is your favorite novel and what does it say about your mind?
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It says my mind is ruled by my heart.
What is your favorite City?
Los Angeles. I absolutely love being here. I love the wealth of cultural experiences, the vastly different areas and the great friends I have here.
Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity and did you ever use that to your advantage?
I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, that I remind people of Robert Downey, Jr. I’m honored to hear that! He is talented and beautiful. To my advantage, I flatter myself.
What is your favorite physical feature on your own body?
My smile. I use it frequently, to disarm. Sometimes, I use it as a wall.
Do you have a pet? What’s its name? How’d it get that name? Supply a picture.
My dog Ringo is more than a pet; he’s family, he’s part of my heart.
What is one attribute you got from your Mom? How has it been a benefit to your life?
Reserve. I don’t have it all the time, but I’ve learned to rely on it more and more in my later years, to let everyone else’s drama run its course.
What is one attribute you got from your Dad? How has it been a benefit to your life?
Charisma. He was, to many, a “magnificent” man. I pale in comparison, but I do have stage presence. I may not be the best actor in the world, or the best singer, or the best dancer, but chances are you’ll notice me.
Do you have any addictions or obsessions?
I’ve been sober for 17+ years. If I take a drink, I won’t stop, or I won’t stop thinking about it. I also have a tortured relationship with food. I was an obese child and lost 50 pounds in high school. I binge-eat regularly, diet much of the time, and exercise a heck of a lot, just so I can keep eating the way I do.
Do you believe in God?
Yes! But not necessarily yours or anyone else’s. My concept of God is fluid, without gender or concrete image. Sometimes God is making the most loving choice. Sometimes God is other people teaching or taking care of each other. Sometimes God is the sweetness of my dog’s eyes when he stares at me when we lay on the couch. Sometimes God is the air I breathe. Sometimes God is the unknown. For that reason, I don’t consider myself an atheist or an agnostic – I’m not religious at all, but I’m also not afraid of the name “God.” It can mean anything to me, anything greater than me that can inspire me.
If you could give any gift to any one person who and what would it be?
I’d give my boyfriend Peter the luxury of time. And a vacation. And the best years of my life (which I view not as an “if” but as a design).
What makes you laugh?
Extraordinary beings shown in ordinary light. Like “Jack” in the Jack in the Box commercials.
This spherical-clown-headed humanoid in a suit who’s really an exasperated “Everyman.”
What is the most curious thing about the President’s job?
Having the confidence to do it.
Three songs on your funeral playlist?
“We Live So Fast” by Heaven 17
“Dreaming” by Blondie
“See You in September” by The Happenings
Besides being yourself, what is one thing you do better than anyone else?
What is one thing you would like to learn before you die?
What is your horoscope sign? Do you feel it fits you?
Taurus. Oh God yes. Stubborn, flamboyant, opinionated and self-indulgent. Guilty as charged, and fiendishly enjoying the hell out of it.
What was the first album, cd, download you owned?
My first non-kiddy record that I can remember owning was Beach Boys Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. I loved that album! “Round, round, get around, I get around…”
Do you think there is life after death?
I hope so. I’ve already made plans.
What is one thing that you don’t know how to do, that you wish you did?
Play piano. I have trouble getting my hands to move independently of each other, with any sort of skill or rhythm. I wish I could, so I could accompany my own singing.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
The fallacy that “sarcasm” is synonymous with “humor.”
What is the number one reason you doubt yourself?
Ah, if I only knew!
Do you enjoy hugs?
Yes, very much so. Hug me!
What was the first concert you attended?
Barry Manilow at The Greek Theatre in 1978. I love Barry, always will.
Where do you think your soul comes from?
The realm of possibility.
Do you ever think you might’ve been someone in a past life? Who?
Yes. I think I was O. Henry. I’m not saying I’ve retained his legendary writing talent, but I went to Austin, Texas a few years ago, toured some of his locales there, and felt instantly at ease and at home. Then I read a lot of his work and thought, “If I could write, I mean really really write, this is what I would write.” I have delusions of grandeur, but I keep them in check.
What do you think is the key to a healthy relationship?
Not being a victim, and not looking for one.
If you won the lottery what 3 things would you do first?
Downplay my good fortune.
Pay off all my debts.
Take Peter out to dinner.
What is your most prized material possession?
My late dad’s watch.
In a movie about your life, what current or past star would play the lead?
Robert Downey, Jr. Or Linda Hunt.
Tell me about a time you were bullied
I was called “faggot” semi-regularly in high school, shoved in the hallway, had my car vandalized. These scars don’t heal overnight, and I often find myself still wishing ill on these bullies, over thirty years later. I found one of them on Facebook, and he looks to be in good shape but dyeing his hair, trying to appear young. Desperate to hide the years. You’re getting older like the rest of us, bro. And I haven’t forgotten your hatred. Wanna make it up to me? Blow me.
What was your favorite toy as a child?
My Star Wars plastic telescoping “lightsaber” I got for Christmas in 1977 sticks out in my mind. That really helped me become Luke Skywalker.
What is your favorite tree? Why?
I love Cypress trees. They look unnatural and unearthly, like nature breaking its own rules.
Have you ever stalked your ex online?
No. There’s no need because I’m great friends with my ex. In fact, we’re entertainment collaborators and I love and admire him very much. I’ve stalked a lot of others, though. Crushes. There’s a chance I’m creepy.
What do you think is the biggest of waste of money?
Cosmetic surgery/enhancement. I hate the message it sends out, that we’re not supposed to look like real people who get older like actual living things, and billions of dollars are spent on it every year.
What is the scariest thing about growing old?
What is your favorite picture of yourself? Please provide it.
This one says it all.
What is your definition of sexy?
Self-awareness without self-consciousness.
What is a question you would ask the next interviewee?
That last guy, would you sleep with him?
I asked Rufino to share a funny story about himself that describes his life. They don’t get any better than this.
At my 20-year high school reunion, a guy I barely knew in school sidled up to me and started conversation. He had become really adorable, like a Stanley Tucci-type, and I sensed – maybe – not sure – could have been – a few notes of flirtation. I thought to myself, “Maybe this is it! This is the movie moment I’ve been waiting for, finding love plumbed right out of my past, with this cute guy I’ve rediscovered after decades!”
He asked me if I had a car, and I said, “Yes, I’m parked across the street.” Oh my God. My heart was racing. We were going to hookup, and, if I had my way, fall in love.
Then he said, “You wanna go do a line?”
He wanted to snort coke. I’d been sober a few years by that time, and he just wanted to party with someone. I said, “No, but thank you.” He ended up doing coke with someone else.
I was so disappointed, but I love having this story to tell.
Please follow him on social media and if you are in Los Angeles get out to one of his shows. You will not be disappointed.
@fino66 on Twitter – where I complain about darn near everything
@rufino66 on Instagram – where I find amusement in darn near everything
@feldspar66 on Pinterest – where I find beauty in darn near everything