Skip to Content

Meet the Puppet Master From Tijuana Behind ‘The Saddest Clown in Los Angeles’ Gangster Marionette, ‘El Triste’

5:39 PM PDT on October 5, 2021

    photo: Erwin Recinos

    [dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]ain Carias was brought to Los Angeles when he was 13 years old from Tijuana, Mexico. He grew up in MacArthur Park. One of his first jobs out of high school was volunteering at The Bob Baker Marionette Theatre at the original location in Echo Park. After 13 years of learning the craft of puppeteering from Bob Baker himself, Cain decided to pursue his puppet master passions and goals. Working with a friend and dollmaker, Ms. Reyes Arte, Caín collaborated to create “El Triste.” 

    Through the years, El Triste evolved from a doll, a puppet, to a “G-marionette” that Cain could manipulate and perform with. Cain gave El Triste the moniker, “The Saddest Clown in Los Angeles.” Cain says he created El Triste from feelings he never really explored, “I’m always happy and smiling. El Triste takes my sadness away. When I feel down, I think of El Triste, and he brightens my light again.”

    In recent months, El Triste’s popularity has grown by making appearances at different events in Los Angeles, from art events to lowrider shows and meetups. El Triste’s girlfriend, La Smiley, has kept the barrio puppet master and his G-marionette busy with music videos and movie appearances. 

    As Cain explains it,” El Triste is actually working now. People hire him to be a part of music videos, and he is getting me jobs.” One of those videos is “Nobody’s Clown” by Los Yesterdays, which has nearly 3 million views on Youtube. With El Triste’s popularity growing, fan art began to take over their Instagram’s DM mentions. With so much incredible art, the puppet master had a great idea of holding an art show dedicated to El Triste and La Smiley featuring all the artwork that celebrated his creations. The art show was held last weekend at El Cielito Cafe in South Gate, California. This was a once-in-a-lifetime event and showed how much these marionettes still connect to people living in deep Los Angeles communities in 2021. 

    Talking with Carias, he tells L.A. TACO that there is a short film currently making the movie festival's titled “El Triste.” This short explores a journey of self-acceptance and discovery to prove El Triste is valuable and worthy of admiration. 

    Keep up with El Triste by following their IG accounts @puppetmaster213, @el_triste_213, and @LA_SMILEY_213

    All photos by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.

    photo: Erwin Recinos

    Stay in touch

    Sign up for our free newsletter

    More from L.A. TACO

    What To Eat This Weekend: Cannabis-Infused Boat Noodles, Thai Smashburgers, and “Grass & Ass”

    Plus, a pizza festival and a respected chef from Toluca, Mexico comes to Pasadena to consult for a restaurant menu, including enchiladas divorciadas, and more.

    April 12, 2024

    Facing ‘Immediate Layoffs,’ L.A. TACO Launches Membership Drive to Save Our Publication

    After Sunday, we do not have enough money to make another payroll. We need 5,000 members to become sustainable. Our deadline is April 26th to hit this goal.

    April 12, 2024

    The Final Round of TACO MADNESS 2024 Is Now Open for Voting! It’s Highland Park vs. San Fernando Valley

    It was an incredible comeback to deny last year's winner and bring a first-timer from the San Fernando Valley to the finals. They will have an uphill battle against Villa's Tacos, who lead all teams in total votes so far in the 2024 competition. L.A.'s favorite taco will be decided on Sunday, April 14th, at 11:59 P.M. 

    April 11, 2024

    This New Koreatown Onigiri Spot Is Unlike Any Other in Southern California

    Supamu, which started as a food truck and a series of pop-ups, brands itself as Southern California’s first Okinawa-style onigiri. What sets its onigiri apart from competitors? All the details are in the post, plus where to find it.

    April 10, 2024

    When ‘Tomorrow’ Never Comes: The Saga of a DTLA Bar Staff’s Struggle To Get Paid

    A barback recalled a time when he had to use a payday loan app to cover a dinner bill. “How can you, with a straight face, hand someone a check knowing that there isn’t money in the account,” the barback questioned.

    April 10, 2024
    See all posts