The greatest moment in the history of American Cinema for me personally occurred in "Return of the Jedi," when filmmaker George Lucas introduced film-goers to the forest moon of Endor and the cuddly teddy-bears known as Ewoks.
I was an 18-year-old living in the Bronx at the time. Part of a trio which scoured New York City for tickets on the film's first night in theaters, before winding up at a 1 a.m. showing in Lower Manhattan.
The precise scene in the 1983 film occured when a dazed Princess Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher, was discovered by a young Ewok warrior named "Wicket Wystri Warrick." She was unconscious as a result of falling from her speeder during a high speed duel with Imperial Stormtroopers.
Leia was ass up and head down on the soft forest floor when the third son of Deej and Shodu Warrick happened upon her shapely form.
Wicket prodded Leia in the upper torso with the tip of his long, sharp spear. When the groggy hottie awoke and inquired about his intentions, homeboy responded with shocking honesty and admirable clarity.
"Chocha," Wicket barked enthusiastically.
The slang term immediately brought a small portion of the theater audience to the edge of our seats. Chocha being Spanglish for both female genitalia and the proverbial ride on what Burgess Meredith once memorably described as "The Old Skin-Boat to Tuna Town."
Fisher, who comes from money, was apparently unfamiliar with it as a member of Hollywood's privileged aristocracy. Otherwise she would have slapped the fur right off the single-minded little guy.
However, those of us with some street smarts were dumbstruck. It was hard to believe our ears. We were suddenly staring intently at the screen in rapt attention. Each wondering privately if they were hallucinating, I suspect.
I know I was.
Had we really just heard a little Hollywood bear direct one of Puerto Rican America's most popular slang words at a beloved member of The 1 Percent?
In a film with a PG rating?
My friends Ralphy Esteves and Armando Arias looked at me quizzically. As if to say "what the hell was in that joint bro?"
"I don't understand you," Leia continued amiably on the big screen, patting the spot beside her. "Want something to eat?"
At which point Wicket grew understandably frustrated and barked out "chocha" a second time. Shattering all doubt.
"And the crowd goes wild" as the saying goes.
Or at least the portion which grew up buying cervesas (beer) at the corner bodega (shop) and arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) at the local cuchifrito (diner).
Ralphy, Armando and I were laughing hysterically. The kind of dangerous, immoderate, involuntary choking laughter which can bring on a cardiac arrest, cerebral hemorrhage or stroke in the very old and very young.
The members of the audience who didn't speak Spanglish were left staring around in confusion. Dumbfounded.
Then, without warning, Leia suddenly began channeling the moment in The Postman Only Rings Twice's raunchy sex scene in which Jessica Lange challenged Jack Nicholson to bring it on.
"Come on," Leia barked at Wicket. "I won't hurt you."
An audible groan was spontaneously emitted by at least a dozen people in the audience.
It's common to speak back to the screen in New York's working class neighborhoods, but not so much downtown, where people tend to be a little more uptight. One brave soul in front finally gave them a clue. Kinda sorta.
"Bitch," he shouted at the screen. " Give him some pussy."
Once again the crowd went wild.
What's the moral of the story?
Ain't no moral. I just like to tell that story.
Apologies to the militant feminists among us who have deactivated their funny bones in the quest for gender equality. What can I say, sometimes life isn't politically correct. Neither is theater.
It's still pretty funny though. Click the pic below to check out the video and see for yourselves. The dirty little horn-dog in the fur not only says "choca," but does so with enthusiasm.