If you had a child in the last fifteen years then you know Dora. She burst onto the scene as an inquisitive eight year old in the year 2000 and rocketed to stardom. Dora the Explorer warmed hearts and confounded parents with her misplaced verbal emphasis and zany adventures. She sparked a billion dollar empire that lives on today but what has become of the star herself? Who is the real Dora? What is her real story?
Here at Conceited Crusade our resident childhood subject matter expert, Underdaddy, caught up with the possible real Dora and managed a rare personal interview. What he found was a dark side to the Dora story. A tale of the burdens of family and fame. An expose’ on the relentless appetite of the infant entertainment industry.
Imagine yourself in a dusty little village at the edge of the Mexican desert. Sitting in hand-carved wood furniture with just enough cracks and imperfections that it didn’t get exported to America. Children laugh and play in the background while a dark haired woman in heavily worn clothes sits across a laminated presswood table. She is holding her baby in one arm and a smoldering cigarette in the other.
UD (Underdaddy): So Dora. It has been nine years since you have spoken with the press. I just want to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
Dora: No problema. That means problem.
UD: I know what it means, I have seen your show.
Dora: Sorry. Old habits are hard to break. Thank you for the pesos and the box of chocolates. (She smiles a weak facade of happiness and motions towards the burlap sack on the edge of the table.)
UD: No Problema.
Dora: Ahhh… I mira what you did there.
UD: Haha. I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself. (Facial expression turns from smiles to serious) But seriously tell me about the last nine years. Why did you leave it all behind?
Dora: I had to find me. I did all that exploring and at the end of the day I didn’t know myself. You know? What was Dora really looking for?
UD: Hmmm. I do. Go on.
Dora: Plus all the fame was just too much too fast. I didn’t like what it was doing to me and mi familia. It was a cartoon but they knew in my village that it was me. I didn’t know what it would do to us.
UD: What do you mean? I thought you were an orphan.
Dora: Not exactly. My parents were coyotes, you know the people who smuggle other people across the border into America. They told me they were adventurers and that is what started the whole idea. I saw them packing people into duffle bags and stacking them in the back of trucks. I remember them whisper to one another and it looked like a mountain of talking laundry. (She starts to show the slightest grin.)
UD: So that is where the talking backpack came from?
Dora: Exactly. And mi padre, Jose, was always studying a map since he drove in the dark most of the time. You can’t use headlights near the border. That gave me an idea. Boom, talking map. (She gets excited and nearly drops her stubby cigarette on the baby.)
UD: Wow. I had no idea. So did they stop once you became famous? Your parents I mean.
Dora: They never got the chance. One night they drove the truck directly into the Rio Grande. I guess he didn’t read the map as good as he thought. I bet he wished he had a talking map like I did!
UD: That is awful I’m so sorry to hear that. How did you deal with your loss?
Dora: Oh it wasn’t that tragic really. I was the one who cut the brakes to begin with. They were real sacks of shit. They beat my cousin Diego like a rented mule. Really brutal sometimes like he was the reason their life was awful. No one should feel mesquite branches like that. (Her face becomes distant and a little dark.)
UD: Good God… (Glances at notes in an attempt to change the subject.) Well, what about Boots? Where did Boots come from?
Dora: Oh funny story.
UD: Awesome, we could use something fun at this point.
Dora: On the way back from smuggling people across the border my parents would sometimes hijack a truck or RV. One morning I woke up to my father swearing to my mother that all they got from this truck was a fucking baby monkey. She told him to calm down and think about it. He took her advice and smoked a big rock of crack then got a wild idea to make money with a crazy monkey show. He glued these red boots on the monkey’s feet.
UD: How did that work out? I bet Boots wasn’t happy about it!
Dora: The monkey got an infection and died in about a week so my father let me have his body as a playmate. But it gets better having Boots is how I met Swiper too!
UD: Jesus Christ. (Pulls out his own cigarette.)
Dora: I know, awesome right?
UD: No. Not the phrase I was thinking of at all. I’m afraid to ask how a dead monkey helped you meet Swiper the Fox…
Dora: Well, after about a week in the Mexican sun Boots was really starting to get smelly. He was all puffy and bloated which smells amazing to a fox. (Giggles like it is a really funny story.)
Dora: Swiper started showing up one afternoon and for the next week he would try to sneak up and steal Boots’ body.
UD: That is morbidly humorous. So did you tell him “Swiper no swiping!” like on the TV show? I bet that would be funny. “Awww maaaan.” (In character voice) Hahaha
Dora: No no, nothing like that. My cousin Diego caught him in a wire snare and bashed his head in with part of an old car axle. (Giggling still but trying to talk.) He wore that fucking fox into a grease spot. Stealing shit in my old neighborhood will get you six feet down. Even an old dead monkey. (Laughing somewhat maniacally.)
UD: It sounds like you and Diego are really umm… close?
Dora: We used to be. He got some money from the TV people and got into steroids pretty heavy. He ended up with some tattoos and I think might have gotten into a few movies. I have a picture that my friend in America sent me about a year ago. I don’t know if this is him or not. (Hands over a folded Polaroid and pulls out a boob to start feeding the infant on her arm.)
UD: He looks like he has had a rough life as well. I mean, not that you have… I just. You don’t look like I would expect a child superstar to look. That picture is Danny Trejo by the way. I just wanted to clear that up. Anyway, why are you so…. Poor. Shouldn’t you have some royalties or something?
Dora: Ha! I was a minor with missing parents so I was just happy for a place to stay. I played make-believe for a couple of hours a day with a dead monkey and a talking backpack. What eight year old would think about contracts or profits? I was just having fun you know?
UD: Sure. Sure. (Clears throat) I, uh, noticed you have a small child attached to your breast. Maybe you can tell us about that? Is he going to be an explorer like his mom?
Dora: She is a girl.
UD: Of course. Sorry. The spider tattoo confused me a little, I wouldn’t think a girl… nevermind. Continue.
Dora: Oh yes the tattoo. It is for her father. I think. I have been working nights as a dancer in Nogales on the border and in the daytime I move sticks around with my show donkey, Casper. I looked back on my missed period and her father is probably one of three men but they are all in the same Cartel, so she is a legacy! Do you have another cigarette?
UD: Should you be smoking while breast feeding? (Hands her one anyway)
Dora: How is that any of your fucking business? (Leans over to light over UD’s lighter)
UD: I don’t suppose it is.
Dora: She likes it you know. We both wake up better after mommy has a morning smoke.
UD: I apologize, you obviously know what she likes better than me. Where were we? Ummm… So what is next for Dora the Explorer? Do you have any plans for the future?
Dora: No just to try and give my daughter, Sacapuntas, a chance at a life in America.
UD: Doesn’t her name mean, “pencil”?
Dora: No it means, “pencil sharpener”. She makes me a better person and helps me write my own story.
UD: Oh. That is.. touching. You should get that in a tattoo or something.
UD: That is really about all I had so I guess we can wrap this up. Like I said, it was really great to meet you and thanks for taking some time out of your busy day. Those sticks aren’t going to move their selves.
Dora: You got that shit right. Before you leave…(She flops her tit back into the sagging blouse) I could use some extra money for Sacapuntas smuggling fund. How about a dance.
UD: Like a private club kind of dance?
UD: With a baby in your arms?
Dora: Why not? Or I can set her in the other room.
UD: I have to be somewhere. But thank you for the offer. I wish you all the best.
Dora: (Suddenly she is enraged) You Fucking Americans! Taking what you need and leaving the people who support you with nothing. I hope the Federalies search your asshole at the border you puta!
UD: God Bless.