100 Women We Love: Class of 2006

Chavela Vargas
A legend in Mexican ranchera music, Vargas came out officially as a lesbian at 81 years old in 2000. Also that year, Spain awarded her their highest artistic honor, the Great Cross of Isabel la Católica. While flattered to receive the Great Cross, Vargas said she is “most proud of being able to give up drinking and smoking. I felt like I saved my own life.” Born in Costa Rica in 1919, Vargas did not record her first album, Noche Bohemia, until 1961. She was notorious for dressing in men’s clothing, smoking cigars and carrying a gun. Vargas’s other claim to fame is her love affair with bisexual artist Frida Kahlo. “When I saw [Frida’s] face, her eyes, it seemed like she was from another world,” said Vargas of Kahlo. “I sensed I could love that being with the most pure love in the world.”
Free Life Campaign 10/27