One of the juiciest alternatives they've uncovered during their excursions to the county this past month is a swingers' sex club in the middle of an otherwise-typical-looking middle-class neighborhood. They've also taken tours of the county with the Weekly's own Gustavo Arellano, including a visit to a Salvadoran restaurant that drew protests for selling Minuteman tacos. They've also taken the obligatory walk-through of South Coast Plaza. "It has to be the only place in America where you can walk from a Sears to Tiffany's," Siguenza says. And Salinas is salivating over the prospect of getting inside the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The overriding mission isn't to goof on right-wing politicians, the Botox crowd or Christian fundamentalists (although don't be surprised if any of that surfaces); it's to get beyond the "burnished image that Orange County still strives to present," Montoya says, recalling a conversation with Arellano about the pristine labels affixed to crates of oranges that were picked by the sweaty brown hands of Mexican immigrants. "The county still tries to present that image, so that weird ether-like vapor still exists. It was built by the labor of millions of Mexicanos, but all we get in the national press is Huntington Beach and The O.C. But there's still a very real tension beneath the surface.

"Have you guys walked in a real surf community lately?" Montoya asks his fellow troupe members. "It's like, man, you don't feel too welcome, still, in some of those places. Of course, there are affluent Latinos throughout Orange County, but there's still that tension. And it's going to be great fun to mix things up at SCR and find the clash of cultures here."

Culture Clash: Straight up, on the rocks
Culture Clash: Straight up, on the rocks

Culture Clash in America at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., (714) 708-5555; Previews begin Sun. Opens March 21. Tues.-Fri., 7:45 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m. Through April 6. $20-$63.

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