An Interview With Photographer Mark Mecalis by Dale Pierce
1. You have become somewhat well-known as a photographer at the bullrings in Mexicali and Tijuana. What attracted you to bullfighting photography?
1: The attraction to Bullfighting specifically was a reaction to witnessing my first in 2001 in Tijuana. The original path I set upon was a writer’s quest. After reading Hemmingway, Kehoe, Conrad, Collins/Lapierre et al., I sensed the fiber of manhood and heroism that had only previously come to me through my love of Roman history. Was the arena not dead? I had to see for myself. I took Hemmingway’s advice for writers, to seek out an environment of life and death to learn about people and the world in a true light. I mistakenly thought he meant the actual dying part. It turns out the way people react to the life and death environment is where everything becomes crystal clear. Before I had seen my first Bullfight I had a reverence for the rituals and people who kept it alive. The men involved with the Corrida seemed mythic to me, I needed to see if it could be real. It would not be man vs. man on the sand, but something magical I would discover in Mexico. Not only did the ancient arena still have one breath of life in its soul, men could still choose to be heroes or cowards as they stand in a circle of sand before Man and God.
2. Did you study photography itself beforehand or learn as you went along?
2: I did not study photography in a formal setting. I have had an art and drafting background in school followed by years in art galleries in Del Mar and La Jolla as a high end custom framer. These things have led to having an eye for composition and the ability to know what is and is not art. The camera and equipment skills I have learned along the way. Shooting in digital and spending 95% of my efforts initially learning digital image processing has led to a dramatically increased learning curve. I started in digital so I have no baggage to shed from a chemical camera past. Digital is the world I know.
3.You also run a graphics business on the American side of the border?
3: My graphics business consists of a digital photo lab and custom framing studio. I do freelance photography and any custom framing work I can bring in. I have the luxury of being able to bring to life on site a complete package from concept to presentation.
4. What toreros do you consider the most photogenic?
4: The most photogenic toreros come in at least two categories. 1: Damn handsome in the traje – really looking every bit the hero. And 2: The men who have great form with the Bulls, beautiful in balance with the animal and cloth, which may or may not have the physical perfection as in type one. As a photographer my lens lusts for both with equal vigor. Many times the toreros are a mix of the two, usually the handsome trades upwards, but an ugly torero with little talent is less seen. Some of the handsome in the traje fitting the ideal expectation (who have talent as well, but it is not the point of comment here) are; Rafael Ortega, Alejandro Amaya, Alfredo Gutierrez, Israel Tellez, Ignacio Garibay, Jose Maria Luevano, Guillermo Martinez and rejoneador Rodrigo Santos. On my list of favorite forms on the sand to photograph I have to restate some of the names from the handsome list. In the form group: Eulalio Lopez “El Zotoluco”, Eloy Cavazos, Miguel Espinosa, El Juli, Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, Ignacio Garibay, Rafael Ortega, Manolo Aruza, Alejandro Amaya, Jose luis Angelino, Fernando Ochoa and Israel Tellez. I’m sure there are names and faces that have slipped through the edges of my memory at the moment but it serves as a representational list.
5. Do you shoot from the stands or the callejon and if the latter, have you had the "pleasure" yet, of a bull jumping into the passageway right by you?
5: I have always shot from the ground level, at first it was through a window in one of the arena gates, or later as the guest of Matador Cesar Castaneda that I acquired enough prints and experience in Callejon rules to earn a regular photographers pass to the Callejon.
I have indeed known the pleasure of being joined by a Bull in the Callejon. It was last year (2004) on September 25th the day of my fortieth birthday. I was shooting at the L.A. Cettos winery festival down in the stone bullring. It had a half circle Callejon with only one burladero at the extreme end. It of course was occupied and left nothing for the dozen or so people remaining. The stone wall was chest high, a foot thick with no estribo. A possible leap for a two handed man, but with a camera and attached telephoto lens in one hand impossible to clear. The Bull (445k) comes out as most all others - with gusto, springing up to meet the Capote in the first circle of the arena. Driving its horns at a couple of initial passes then breaks off for another circle of the arena. The Matador is setting himself on the opposite side for the return of the Bull and then three feet to my left it leaps halfway over the wall. I can hear the hide sliding on the cement and stone surface and in mental slow motion, much to my horror the Bull continues sliding forward as its rear end glides away from me. I realize it is going to be facing me when it lands in the Callejon. Then full speed life happens. The bull is on the sand in the Callejon three feet in front of me and starts at me like lightning. There is no where to run. I glance over my shoulder and see everybody packing into the dead end of the Callejon like people trapped at a locked door in a fire. So I jump as high as I can for the wall cradling my camera in one hand and the holding the wall with the other. I only get half way over with one boot covered foot of mine sticking out behind for balance, making a sweet target for an angry Bull. Like a base ball bat tied to a speeding car bumper the horn hits my foot. A second blow to the arch of my foot and third to the left side of my calf were nasty additions to the first on the top of my foot to my shin. Running down the Callejon to the dead end it runs over a young woman photographer sending her to the hospital. I still shot the whole day, drove home from Ensenada and endured a two hour border crossing before I could get out of my boots and see what really happened. I almost had to cut the boot from my leg due to the swelling. I was unable to put any weight on my foot for a full week. The swelling and internal blood pools did not dissipate for an additional three weeks. I still get twinges of pain and stiffness in my right ankle and foot.
6. Have you studied other photographers from the past and their styles, via the old bullfighting books?
6: As far as studying others work, I would hope I am not alone in my approach. I do not study anyone’s work but my own. I have an artistic intention much like a sculptor sees something in the stone. I only work to bring it out. The process takes it own measure of time to perfect. But I know what I am trying to impart through my work and spend all my effort to achieve that goal without regard for others work. There is also the factor of the feeling of personal discovery in capturing a theme or moment perfectly. I always feel a sense of loss when I find a similar moment has been done by others. I understand it and respect it. But it only serves to stoke my inner fires of creativity in which to find deeper and more richly themed shots that are uniquely mine.
7. The Fiesta Brava news service on the net has used some of your photos, right?
7: The Fiesta Brava news service has recently published a few of my photos of Atanasio Velazquez in Mexicali Mexico.
8. Have your works been seen yet in other big media sources?
8: I have been published in 6 Toros 6 Magazine and am featured on www.burladerodos.com .
9 Many bullfighting photographers have seemed to prefer black and white, but you like shooting in color?
9: Color verses black and white is an argument for some. I only see and think in color. The lighting is impossible for a lot of photographers to adjust to in high speed action subjects. Black and white affords them something to work with. The mind remembers color more vividly than it is in reality. Chemical cameras have some difficulty recreating true colors from the lighting in which we are forced to shoot, let alone boosting them. With a good digital camera and the “Black Arts” of digital processing I can bring back the colors to vivid levels which please the eye and correspond to the minds vision of events. With special shooting modes and software I can achieve previously impossible results and detail with a larger volume of usable material.
10. Do you sell photos to the general public?
10: I have all my Bullfighting work available for sale on my website www.mecalisgraphics.com.
11. Where can people contact you? Don't you have a graphics page?
11: My website is just beginning to take shape. I wish to add many more short stories and inside notes from each Bullfight I shoot. One can find my work for sale and custom framing as well. Only a few frame and matting samples are shown, my studio stocks hundreds of varieties. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
12. Have you ever thought of doing a bullfighting page as well?
12: My inside knowledge of who is who and what they used to do has been greatly limited by my newness to the world of the Bulls. I walk in rare inside places and through the graces of my friends am learning more of who is doing what for whom and their histories. I am not the right person to maintain a forum on Bullfighting. I just don’t have enough experience under my belt yet. As far as what I see happening here and now, the inside scandals at the Plazas, personal moods, scary moments up close, the look in the eyes and all the emotions I am the right guy. I can’t get enough time with all my responsibilities to write as much as I wish.
13. Have the empresarios been fairly cooperative with you in your efforts to photograph bullfighting?
13: I have had a path to the Callejon that seems to me as a gift by destiny. I wished for something deeply and everything has worked in my favor towards that goal. Mexico has been most warm and generous; the people involved in Tijuana and Mexicali are wonderful.
14. What do you think makes a good bullfighting photograph? Are there particular angles, passes or certain things you set up and wait for?
14: The thing that makes a good bullfighting photo is a huge point of argument with some photographers. You can almost her them grumbling “What the hell is he going to say”. I will with respect give them their due by dividing the categories. One category is the classic shot. Perfect angle, animal, cloth and man. The museum piece example of the moment, the one image that defines the pass. I call them the “White Buffalo” shots. One could spend years collecting a mere dozen or so. And some do only that, waiting, and waiting. Usually getting bitter in the process. Those types of photographers tend to distain all others work and people in general because they feel that they alone are more knowledgeable than all around them. They also spend most of their time with their camera pointed at their feet. Then there is what I call the “Heroic” shots which can include but are not limited to the Classics. The risking of life with class combined with the Traje, animal and cloth is a powerful theme. In my opinion worthy of great photographic study. Without regard of who is who and where they are performing. What happens on the sand is the truth; that is the most important thing for me.
15. Not the most photogenic this time, but as the "best:" so to speak as a torero, what matador do you consider the best?
15: My opinion of the best I have seen would be the rejoneador Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza and the late David Silveti.
16. How would you describe the Mexicali bullfighting scene?
16: The Mexicali Bullfighting scene is fairly new to me. This is my first “season” shooting there. I tend to think of the obstacles to a good days shoot (angle of the shoot vs. the sun, heat, light fading early etc.) when I think of Mexicali. Except that I love the Bull pens for the sorteo, with their windows to the toros and brick walls.
17. Any other interesting stories to tell?
17: The stories I would like to remember in my future would be divided into three categories;
(1): The moments of honor; like the recognition by Juan Silveti of my photography work, a personal moment of pride I will carry with me always. Being invited by Eulalio Lopez “El Zotoluco” to shoot his dressing and that he and his manager liked my work. Most importantly my friends in the Castaneda family which adopted me as one of their own.
(2): The incredible moments of valor when things go wrong. Watching my friends, the arena monosabios leap the barrera and bare handedly distract the Bulls or pull the fallen men to safety with little regard for the own lives. These young men heed the inner voice of heroic men for much deeper reasons than the 50 pesos a day they receive. Also the Matadors after a goring or severe tossing shaking off the men around them and biting the Bull with a fire, risking all and triumphing.
(3): The moments of humor which unfortunately can include some injuries. Like falling on my butt while shooting in the center of the arena during the paseo. It was without injury but did earn me the first ovation of the day. The time I jumped up from my camera bag to run for a shot ahead in the Callejon and almost impaled myself on a sword handler’s blade. He was cleaning the blood off with a sponge and was holding the blade horizontally at chest height and I stopped an inch from my heart. We both laughed – but I had a drink that evening to celebrate. The tossings of the Matadors and Picador spills are all memorable.
18. Closing comments?
18: I only hope to grow and improve in my endeavors. I would be pleased to find out one day that there were others out in the world that enjoy my work and appreciate its openness and direction.
2) You were trained by Jaime Bravo?
Jaime was my true maestro. He was very strict, allowed me no crowd pleasing antics. Was a good friend and an excellent maestro. He also introduced my to Cesar Giron who helped me at tientas several times, as well as to Carlos Arruza who invited me to Pasteje many times to practice. Carlos also had a hand in my training, mostly about "reading" fighting animals, and what to do and when to do it!
3)We'll get into this in a bit, but, wasn't Arruza trainer for Jaime Bravo, Bravo was your trainer, then Arruza , Bravo & you all end up dying or severly hurt in car accidents?
Correct Dale, Carlos refined Jaime in Spain and was responsible for his manager and several corridas including Valencia where he cut a hoof. He took the alternativa one year later in Valencia. As to injuries you are right. I was driving down the Santa Ana Fwy after returning from Cali, Columbia and was hit from behind by a woman during a police pursuit(result temporary paralysis and cranial fracture)has caused a permanent headache and back pain, more of a pain in the ass! Jaime was killed on the highway in a car with Eloy Cavazos returning from a tienta at Chucho Cabreras. Carlos Arruza was killed on a rain slick highway coming home the backway from Pasteje. One other person was part of my management team, Dr. Gustavo Arrevalo, who connected me with the Choperas due to his friendship with Paco Camino. Dr, Arrevalo was killed in a car accident going home in Cuidad Satellite.
4)In waht plazas did you appear as a novillero?
El Torero de Tijuana, El Toreo in Mexico City, Plaza San Marcos, Aguscalientes, Juarez, Matamoros, San Luis Rio Colorado, Nogales, Saltillo, Monterrey, Xico, Vera Cruz,Tepatitlan, Zacatecas, Ensenada, Cali Columbia, Guatemala City & Coatepeque, Guatemala, Nimes Tierra Santa & Benidorm(preparing for a formal Spanish tour). Others I have long forgotten over 40 years.
5) Greatest afternoon?
Probably three or four. Two ears and Dr. Gaona trophy, silver ear(I still have it) Tijuana, salida en hombros which took me to El Toreo in Mexico City six months later. Second appearance in El Toreo the following year, bulls from Presillas all in 390-420 kilos ,vuelta, dianas, petition with an AVISO, I sent you the clipping, plaza went nuts. Indulto of Penuelas bull in Plaza San Marcos, "Sol de la Manana" honorary two ears & tail, salida en hombros. Santo Cristo crystal plaque, triunfador, two ears & tail & salida en hombros in Cali Columbia with Joaquin Camino and two Columbian novilleros. Buried it with my mother in 1987(she lugged it in her purse all the time????
6)Wasn't there an incident in the plaza in San Luis Colorado where you performed so well as sobresaliente that the aficionados actually passed the hat to buy a bull for you?? It was in one of Bravos' corridas?
Dale-you've done a little research-yes- The corrida was to provide a jump start for Jose Gomez. Also fighting Jaime Bravo and Jose Ramon Tirado, don't even remember the ganaderia. All three matadors were friends and supporters, of mine. It was a "corrida de toros",with bulls all over 450 kilos and I got to do "quites" with each bull. I can't remember all, but on the second to last bull, I did a "quite de oro" from the center of the ring, and, the crowd got nuts. I think Jaime, who was a really generous mentor, started talking with Dr. Gustavo Arevalo in one of the barreras, who didn't know me at that time, and got him to start passing the hat. Jaime killed that bull, cut an ear, and dragged me in the turn of the ring, we went to the center and said "Guero look at the judge and raise your index finger". The Guero chant started and got louder. The last bull was for Jose Gomez who was completely forgotten-I fought the gift bull, was triumphant and went two weeks later to Nogales.
7) You had one or two gorings?
The first cornada was in El Toreo on Christmas Eve, the first time I fought there. Left leg, three trajectories discovering the femoral artery, also fractured my jaw(prognosis muy grave)! Was gored in the mouth in La Barca Jalisco-two years later in La Barca had scrotum torn open(never fought there again). Concussion in Benidorm which put an end to the European expedition. Never had a chance to go back.
8) You were about ready to take the alternativa when the accident occurred?
Dale, again you did a little research or read EL REDONDEL. Dr. Gaona offered the alternativa for me to Paco Ros & Dr. Gustavo Arevalo in Plaza Mexico with the following condition, that I go to Spain & France with the Choperas, fight at least 20 novilladas with the same success I was having in Mexico. I realize that Dr. Gaona promised many toreros many things. He never lied to me. It might not happen that week or next, BUT, as far as I was concerned IT HAPPENED. That is one reason I became so bitter when I was forced to quit after the accident.
9)The wreck took you out of the bullfight for good?
Dale-I woke up at UCLA on a rubber support sheet with some kind of fluid which was surrounding me. I had electrodes everywhere possible. There was a support structure on my neck and some nonsense sround my back to neck-partial paralysis through right side, substantial head fracture- I was scared shitless(there is no gentile way to say it)language was difficult, so was eating. I was advised ,when I did get out of the hospital NOT TO EXPERIENCE ANY SHARP PHYSICAL CHALLENGE OR BLOW! In all probablity were that to have happened in this time frame, I'd have been fighting again in six months. That was the amount of time in those days that, with therapy, I was able to jog again.
10)After the wreck you stayed away for quite awhile & then came back down the road again?
I had established myself in the horse industry. During the process, two close friends from the University of Mexico came into town on business. Lic Francisco Aranda and now Senator Joaquin Cisneros, that was about 20 years ago. They insisted on going to TJ because Manolo Martinez was fighting. We had fought togther as novilleros in La Aurora. His picador was "Chito" Munoz another good friend. We all had dinner together afterward. It sort of gave me a new interest and desire to at least be a spectator. Eventually I met Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza with whom I had a profound muitual interest in horses.
11)You are now, I daresay one of the foremost experts on horsecare in the West?
I am writing you about 20 days after judging the Canadian Pinto Nationals at the Agroplex in British Columbia. I was, able, during my stay in Mexico to advance my education. I received my doctorate in large animal reproduction at the University of Mexico School of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnical Studies, thanks to Dr, Arevalo. I then went to Texas A&M and got a Masters in Large Animal Serology with a Minor in Cytology. Been fortunate enough to have trained and shown and also have bred 11 World or National Champion horses in several divisions.
12)This has brought you to several events with rejoneadores & the border bullfights, correct?
Yes-in my mind Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza is doing things that only he can do. He has brought the horse into "los toros" the way no other rejondeador has ever done, in my humble opinion. I have brought several friends and students to see what he does. It allows them to appreciate the "entire picture". something they might never have done.
13)How does it feel to be indrectly related to the bullfight?
I have been offered the opportunity to go to tientas, train and even fight in "festivales". I am happy that a few people like yourself, remember who I was, and what I tried to do. I am only too pleased to say hello to old friends and "companeros del ruedo". I love sitting in the "palco" and evaluating. I saw the "toro bravo" the way few have, triumphed in major plazas, was respected by my peers(whether they liked it or not) now I can appreciate it all indirectly, with a beer and a lovely lady on my arm!!!!!!!
14) What is your website?
15)Perhaps you would care to comment on a few people from the past and present. For starters, who are the people now, you think are really good?
Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, great horseman, who understands how to fight, with great creativity and art. He is truly in his own world of tauromaquia! Enrique Ponce, a brilliant artist when he has his bull. "El Juli" can make almost any bull "his bull". "El Zotoluco" tremendous "pundonor" and a profound matador with most bulls. Sebastian Castella(the French matador) in Madrid this year, most successful-we'll see.
16)now from the past Carlos Arruza?
Because of Jaime Bravo and Budd Boetticher, Carlos took the time at his ranch to let me fight cows, and, slip in a technical point at the appropriate time-he saw it happen, how to make it happen, when to make it happen-cold as ice-brilliant even as he grew older. It helped him a lot as a rejondeador.
17) Joselito Torres, the Mexican, not the South American. I think you were in Nogales as a sobresaliente with him??
Jose was a nice guy. To mention him in respect to the people who I have previously named makes no sense.
18) Jaime Bravo?
Jaime could have been a figura. Carlos Arruza didn't help him because he felt generous. Jaime had talent, great valor and great artistic capability WHEN HE FELT LIKE IT. His sense of "showbiz" branded him as a "tremendista". IF he had concentrated on the work ethic he forced me into, spent less time with any "taquillera" who flashed a skirt, or, any Countess who dropped her drawers, he would be spoken of today with a different tone.
10)Robert Ryan, didn't you appear in some festivales together?
Probably the only Rondeno style matador the USA has produced. He was always polite and correct. We fought together in TJ, we know what the history of that "festival"was. I treasure the silver ear I won that day. His parents helped me after the corrida and cornada in 'El Toreo" driving me to TV appearances and lectures. I am glad he is happily married and a successful artist. He should have confirmed in Madrid & Plaza Mexico he deserved it!!
-since I was well ensconced in the Chopera household by the time he got to Mexico, I spent no time with him. I was closer to Paco Camino due to Dr. Arevalo, I wasn't allowed into the "Cordobes" camp. Both these matadors were managed by the Choperas. He was a spectacle.
-Did not know him well. He and Jaime Bravo were courteous and slightly friendly. I saw him many times, and his "toreo" was very exciting. He was very much the "dominador". He became an excellent Charro later in life and had his own association.
22)Any others you would like to mention?
Cesar Giron extremely dominant and artistic at the same time. He was a good friend of Jaimes' and was a great help at the tientas. Manolo Martinez one of the top ten all time Mexican matadors(need I say more). Ruben Salazar(almost unknown)from Aguascalientes. I saw his alternativa in Plaza San Marcos, three ears & a tail. He was badly managed nad could have been a person to contend with. My banderillero de confianza Felipe Gonzalez(ex-matador)was patient and protective and another good friend.
23)Anything else you would like to talk about before closing?
Ganderos: Pepe Madrazo who produced great bulls, in La Punta, that had great presence, the ability to continue after more than one pic with brilliance and honesty. I was a regular at the ranch where many of bigger name weren't invited. Luis Manuel Ruiz Barrios of Presillas in Zacatecas, another ganadero of impressive brave bulls. These bulls could also continue solidly after more than one pic. "Embesitir" again and again which made the "tanda" build for the 'torero" and more importantly for the crowd. Since these bulls were astifino and paliabierto, many toreros avoided them. I am proud to have been invited to every tienta they had.
I think that perhaps had Fulton, Robert Ryan and myself come along today, with acceptance of toreros like Sebastian Castella & Juan Bautista(French), toreras like Christina Sanchez or the novillera Hilda Tenorio, we would have been appreciated for what we were doing, rather than being an "oddity". The ability to "torear" is not limited to Latinos(I am 1/2) I truly believe. Bruce Hutton, who I helped train a million years ago continues to fight as an aficionado practico without any type of "racismo". I am truly glad for the opportunities offered me. I am truly glad that I was able to triumph in several countries.
An Interview With Film Producer Mauricio Pardo by Dale Pierce
1. You are establishign yourself as a film procuder and director in Colombia. Tell people about your company and your productions.
Our Company is called Cinema Films and its one of the leading production companies shooting tv commercials in our country. Normally we shoot national campaigns for the big brands and multinational ad agencies based in Colombia and for clients in other latinamerican countries.
2. This is more of a cultural, than a bullfighting based interview , because oddly enough, you do not care for the bullfighting?
I think that people tend to think that if you live in spain or in a latin country you are by default a bullfighting fan. That’s not really my case. Of course I have been aware of bullfighting as part of our culture since a kid but never interested me. I think that bullfighting or for example baseball in the states is just an excuse for gathering, having a party, living the “fiesta brava” or eating a hot dog with a homerun in the background. In the end its about the people.
3. Yet you know of all the famous Colombian toreros past and present like Caceres, Puno and so on?
Of course, this are household names. Very famous and well known even to someone like me. You get to hear about all the famous toreros because they have a fascinating life…living near death and with all the beautiful girls throwing flowers at them.
4. In spite of the fact you do not care so much for the bullfighting, do you think you would make a documentary on one of the toreros or a film around the bullfight if the opportunity arose?
Yes. I think every story has an angle and even If I don’t really like bullfighting I am sure there are a lot of interesting things to tell and thousands of wonderful stories around bullfighting. Any ideas ?
5. Bogota has a bullring, correct? I know Mainzales, Caliand such do but was not sure on Bogota?
Bogota has a spectacular bullring or plaza…its called “ La Macarena” and its actually just a couple of blocks form my house. I’ve been there a lot of times but attending rock concerts as it’s a fabulous place for shows.
6. From your limited experience then, but as a Colombian, whom would you say is the most famous Colombian matador right now?
Tricky question as I am not into the latest news but I would say that Cesar Ricon is still the most famous or at least the master of masters above all the new toreros.
7. Colombia has a negative reputation in the English speaking language, where films and the news continue to show it as a war zone with bombings, drug wars and people cutting off other people;'s arms like in Scarface with chainsaws. Living down there, do you think much of this is blown out of proportion?
If you believe all the news and movies I wouldn’t go to the states either because in every school there are kids shooting there classmates every day. Of course, things happen, of course we have a violent conflict that has hit Colombia for more than 50 years, but live goes on, and you have to wake up every morning, go to work, go shopping, go to lunch and in the weekends you even go to bullfignting and have fun. You can let a partial image of a huge country rule over all the good things that happen here and all the talented and hard working people. Not every body is into war, some of us are into music ( shakira, juanes) , formula 1 ( juan Pablo Montoya) and so on… I will tell you to shut down your tv set and just come down here, you would not get kill as soon as you place a foot out of the plane !
8. On the contrary, you did some business in miami a while ago and could not wait to leave Fl;orida, as you did not like it there, correct, and wanted to get back home?
Well, florida is a strange place were the living latino cliché rules. To much shopping, to much fake Things. The latino image you have from JLO and the stefans is a weird and bizarre deformation of our culture and I can relate to that at all so I prefer to come back as soon as possible. Miami is a place as weird as las vegas and personally I prefer more new york, new Orleans or san Francisco and cities were real Americans live a normal live far fom stereotypes.
9. What have been some of your past films?
Moñona is a short film with a bowling background and I am really interested in documenting the local musica scene such as I did with “sonidos ocultos” a rockumentary about the indie scenes in the 90’s.
10. Future plans?
Killing joke is a clown serial killer plot and Berlin Alien is a sci-fi film that I would like to shoot in Berlin.
11. Your page is already linked to us, so people might want to check it out. If I recall, it is in English and Spanish both?
Yes, our web site www.cinemafilms.com.co is in both languages and we try to update it as much as possible.
12. Closing comments?
Do we have to kill the bull in the end ? I’ve heard that in some countries the bull is not killed. Think its better to just stick to the ballet, the choreography, the sand, the sense of danger and the beautiful girls in the ring. OLE !!!!!
You operate the La Maestranza restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico. How did this place, which is now more than one, come to being?
It was original open in February 1940, by “Don Paco Jaugregui”, the place was very successful because it’s in down town and the old plaza the toros was 4 blocks from here. In the middle of the 80´s the place went down in customers, because the down town was no longer the center of commerce in Guadalajara, also don paco was turning 80 years old; he can no longer came every day for work.
I first came “los Panchos” (the original name) in February 1996, I always like bull fights, so was crazy about the place when I first saw it.
On that time the place was for rent, so I decide to give it a try, I al ready have a restaurant so I talk to don paco and he rent me the place, after we re-open the place with a new name (because authorities want a new wan) and some minor changes, the down town night life went up, almost 20 bar, cantinas, discos, open in about one year.
2. You have a real museo taurino in both places. Where did you buy these artifacts and were others donated to you?
The original collection was made by don paco, when I started to run the place I begin to buy things from customer, fiend, and visitors. Also I travel a lot to se corridas in the city’s that are close to Guadalajra and I use these trips to by stuff. In 8 years I have met a lot of people so now I have like one person a week that wants to sell me something. I like to by thinks because they are part of history, when I open the second cantina I have to choose what between a lat of stuff. I just put like 1,000 things on the walls and there another 1,000 waiting for the next cantina that I hope to open In September.
3. What are some of the items on display?
There are Bulls heads, cartels from the 1890´s, 1900´s 1910´s and so on, paintings, “Toreros” clothes, there’s a “Picador” clothes design by John Fulton. I also have John Fulton original cartel from his alternative in sevilla. In the old maestranza there are more than 2,000 items on display, the new one has about 1,000 items on display.
4. In Guadalajara do you attract a lot of aficionados due to the taurino atmosphere or do you get good number of tourists and others who come just because you make good food?
People came because it’s a magical place, the main thing in a cantina it’s the atmosphere, and there no place in México like these, we have good prices and excellent service, 90 % of our customer were regular’s the rest are tourist.
Sundays after the corrida we are full of customers, because there is a Tablado Flamenco, and we have been doing these for 9 years.
5. There are several novilleros and matadores in Guadalajara. Do they frequently come to your place?
The carrier of a matador its berry hard, all the matadors and novilleros, don’t like to drink or sleep late, so they don came a lot, I consider a lat of the matadores my friends, like: El coyo, Pepe murillo, El Conde, Fermin Spinola, Alberto Espinosa, Alejandro Silveti and many more.
6. What re the addresses and the webpage for the Maestranzas?
7. Where did you, yourself, see your first corrida?
I saw my first corrida in my home town in Puerto Vallarta in 1982, when I was 11 years
8. Do you have a favorite torero on the current scene?
Enrique Ponce and Zotoluco
9. What about historically? Is there one torero you never saw but wish you could have, as you obviously have an interest in history?
I wish I could saw Armillita (the father) when he cut 2 ears, the rabo and 4 legs in Barcelona.
I believe that armillita was the best Mexican torero in México history.
10. If anyone would like to contribute artifacts, say yous hould open yet another Maestranza, would you be receptive to have them do so?
Of course yes, there are no many people that give away things but there’s always some one.
I would never stop buying things, its part of my life to do so.
11. Is there anything else youw ould like to discuss or include in this interview?
If you came to México an like the bull fights you must visit, “La Maestranza Cantina” in Guadalajara.
12. Are there many bars or cantinas in Mexico? There are many in Spain, but I cannot think of many in Mexico?
I would only recommend “El Panteon Taurino” in Leon and “Merendero San Marcos” in Aguascalientes. These places and La Maestranza are authentically bullfight cantinas.
13. Closing comments?
Thanks for these opportunities to talk about la maestranza.
14 Just out of curiousity,, where did you learn English so well?
I learn In Puerto Vallarta, but I like to apologies for my grammatical and the use of words.
A Brief Interview With El Inclusero by Dale Pierce
Q. Where were you born?
A. Albacete, Sapin
Q. When did you make your professional debut?
A. Very young, at the age of 13.
Q. Debut with picadores?
A. Madrid, April 1, 1964.
A. In Valencia, at the hands of Antonio Ordonez and Paco Pallares.
Q. Confirmation in Madrid?
A. May 18, 1966, at the hands of Litri and Pepe Luis Vazquez.
Q.Confirmation in Mexico City?
A. March 12, 1967, at the hand of Manuel Capetillo and Jaime Rangel with bulls of Tequisquiapan.
A. I have had 25 in all, in a very long career and in various degrees of seriousness.
Q. What toreros did you prefer to alternate with?
A. Many, as there are many I liked to appear with in both Mexico and Spain. Capetillo, Arturo Ruiz Loredo, Raul Garcia, Ordonez, Pallares,, Monaguillo, Rafael Ortega , Linares, Diego Puerta, Paco Camino, Gregorio Sanchez, manzanares, Curo Giron, Alfredo Leal, Eloy Cavazos, Pepe Luiz Vazquez...
Q. What toreros do you consider to be the greatest names of all time?
A. Domingo Ortega and Pepe Luis Vazquez, the Spanish one.
Q. Retirement date?
A. No, I am still active and am the oldest active torero in Spain at this time.
An Interview With Fabio Sansoni By Dale Pierce
1.You have done several bullfighting paintings, but were born in and live in Italy, correct? Italy does not have the bullfight, so how did you become interested in this?
Answer: NOT PROPERLY. I’M FOND OF SPANISH BULLFIGHT AND I’VE SEEN MANY OF THEM IN SPAIN. OF COURSE IN ITALY THERE AREN’T BULLFIGHTS. WE ITALIANS STOPPED TO PERFORM THIS KIND OF ART DURING THE XVII CENTURY, AND NOWADAYS MANY ITALIANS DON’T LIKE IT, MAY BE BECAUSE THE DON’T KNOW IT AT ALL. I MET THE WORLD OF CORRIDA IN 1989 AND I HAD THE POSSIBILITY TO SEE SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS SPANISH BULLFIGHTERS. BEFORE MY DEGREE IN SPANISH LANGUAGE AND CULTURE, IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN 1999 AND 2004, I ATTENDED SOME COURSES OF SPANISH LANGUAGE DURING SUMMER, MOST OF THEM IN ANDALUSIA. IN THE “PLAZA DE TOROS” OF MALAGA ( CALLED LA MALAGUETA ) I FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS KIND OF ART AND, SINCE I’M AN ILLUSTRATOR, I MADE SOME SKETCHES OF THE BULLFIGHT ON A LITTLE NOTEBOOK. AT THE BEGINNIG I DREW ONLY THE COSTUMES BUT THEN I GOT INTERESTED IN THE “MOVEMENT” , THE STRENGHT AND SPEED OF THE FIGHT. OF COURSE I TOOK A LOT OF PHOTOS AND WHEN I CAME BACK HOME I STARTED TO PAINT MY DRAWINGS ON CANVAS.
2. What is your url and your gallery address?
3. Do you have a favorite bullfighter?
Answer: YES, OF COURSE. I LIKE THE STYLE OF CURRO ROMERO BUT ALSO THE MADNESS OF EL JULI.
4. have you ever studied the paintings of other bullfighting artists and compared or contrasted their styles to yours?
Answer: I WROTE A TESIS ON THE HISTORY ON BULLFIGHT IN THE SPANISH ART. THE TITLE IS: «LA CORRIDA DE TOROS Y LA CULTURA EPAÑOLA. EL ARTE DE LA TAUROMAQUIA EN LAS OBRAS DE GOYA Y PICASSO.» THE BULLFIGHT AND THE SPANISH CULTURE. THE ART OF THE BULLFIGHT IN THE PAINTINGS (AND ARTISTIC PRODUCTS) OF GOYA AND PICASSO. 315 PAGES (IN ITALIAN) AND A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS TAKEN IN SPAIN DURING MY TRIPS. I’M LOOKING FOR AN PUBLISHER INTERESTED IN THIS TEXT, BUT IN ITALY, AS I TOLD YOU, ISN’T A SUBJECT VERY POPULAR AND BELOVED. I LOVE THE ARTISTIC PRODUCTION OF PABLO PICASSO ABOUT BULLFIGHT, IT IS OUTSTANDING. HE WAS A REAL ARTIST.
5. Aside from bullfighting paintings, what other subjects do you paint?
Answer: BEFORE 1999 I PAINTED ALMOST FLOWERS (CALLA LILY) AND ANIMALS ( TROPICAL BIRDS). IN 2000, 2001 AND 2002 I PAINTED A GREAT NUMBER OF IMMAGES TAKEN FROM MY NOTEBOOKS AND MY PHOTOS: FOR EXAPLE FACES AND COSTUMES OF EGYPTIANS IN CAIRO AND IN THE DESERT, OR THAI GIRLS WITH WONTERFULL GOLD COSTUMES DANCING IN A GARDEN.
6. Did you go to school to learn painting or did you just teach yourself?
Answer: YES. I TOOK A DEGREE IN ARTS AT THE ACADEMY IN MILAN.
7. Curiously, an Italian director made one of the classics concerning bullfighting movies, titled Moment Of Truth with Miguelin. The director was Francesco Rosi, and I am wondering if you ever saw the movie? A lot of Spanish critics and fans thought it a bit odd that an Italian directed it, another Italian, Piccioni, copmposed the music, and I think Italians co-produced the movie. Did you ever see it?
Answer: YES. I THINK I SAW IT. IN ITALY BY NIGHT IS POSSIBLE TO SEE BEAUTIFUL MOVIES BETWEEN 1.00 A.M AND 3.00 A.M.. I SAW ONLY A PART OF IT BECAUSE I FELL ASLEEP, SO I CANNOT GIVE YOU A OPINION ON IT.
8. On the same hand, without the bullfight in Italy , do your fellow Italians criticize you for painting about bullfights and try to tell you it is animal cruelty you glorify?
Answer: OF COUSE. DURING MY EXPOSITIONS I SEE PEOPLE STOPPING IN FRONT OF MY PAINTING AND YOU CAN SEE THEIR CONTRASTING EMOTIONS IN THEIR FACES. IT IS GREAT: MY PAINTINGS SOMETIMES EXCITE PEOPLE, CALL FORTH STRONG EMOTIONS. I LOVE IT. I TELL YOU A LITTLE STORY: IT WAS ON SUNDAU AFTERNOON, DURING AN EXPOSITION A COUPLE (A GIRL AND HER BOYFRIEND) ENTER THE HALL. THERE WERE THE OIL PAINTINGS OF 3 ARTISTS, AND I WAS THE YOUNGEST. THEY RUN IN THE HALL, MAY BE THE BOY WAS IN A HURRY BECAUSE THE FOOTBALL MATCH WAS GOING TO START. WHEN THEY ARRIVE IN FRONT OF THE PICTURES OF MY BULLFIGHTS SHE STOPPED AND LOOKED AT IT DISGUSTED. HE ASKED THE GIRL WHY SHE DISLIKED THAT PICTURE SO MUCH AND THEY STARTD TO DISCUSS. I CAME NEAR AND I TOLD THEM WHAT REPRESENTED THAT IMAGE, AND WHICH WAS THE “BEAUTY” OF THAT MOMENT OF THE FIGHT. AFTER HALF AN HOUR THEY SAID ME GOODBYE AND GO AWAY WITHOT BUYING MY PICTURE, BUT I’M SURE THAT THE 50% OF THEM APPRECIATE THE ART OF BULLFIGHT NOW. THE BOY IN FACT STOPPED TO LOOK THE WATCH AND MISSED THE FIRST PART OF THE FOOTBALL MATCH WITHOUT COMPLAINING (AND, AS YOU KNOW, IN ITALY IT IS VERY IMPORTANT A FOOTBALL MATCH ON SUNDAY). MANY ITALIANS CRITICIZE THE BULLFIGHT WITHOUT KNOWING ANYTHING OF IT. OF COURSE MANY ANIMALISTS DISLIKE THE SUBJECT OF THIS PICTURES OF MINE BUT I’M GLAD THEY APPRECIATE THE TECNIQUE AND THE STUDY. I DO NO GLORIFY CRUELTY, I HAVE SEEN ABOUT 67 BULLS KILLED IN THE ARENA AND IF I MUST BE SINCERE THE MOMENT WHEN THEY DIE IS DISTRESSING, BUT THE PASEILLO, THE COSTUMES, THE MOVEMENT OF THE FIGHT, THE EXTREME PRECISION OF THE MOVEMENTS OF THE BULLFIGHTER, THE ATMOSPHERE... THAT IS REALLY EXCITING. AT THE END, ALTHOUGH MAY ITALIANS DON’T LIKE TO HAVE A PICTURE OF A BULL KILLED BY A CRUEL BULLFIGHTER I CAN TELL YOU THAT THERE ARE SOME WHO BUY THEM BECAUSE THEY SEE BEYOND THE ACT AND APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF THE IMAGE, THE MOMENT I CAPTURE ON THE CANVAS, THE ART ANF FOLKLORE.
9. .Do you have more bullfighting paintings planned?
Answer: YES, BUT I WANT TO GO FUTHER. TO PAINT WITH THIS MANIACAL PRECISION THE COSTUMES WAS ONLY A FIRST STEP. AS PICASSO DID, I WANT TO CAPTURE THE VERY ESSENCE OF THE MOVEMENT, BUT I NEED TO GO ANOTHER TIME TO SPAIN.
10. Have you ever sought exhibitions for your paintings in Spain where they might be very well received?
Answer: NO. I SPOKE WITH SOME FRIEND OF MINE, WHO LIVE AND PAINT IN MALAGA OR BILBAO, BUT AT THE MOMENT I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I CAN SIGHT.
11. What suggestions for success might you give other artists wishing to paint about bullfights?
Answer: EASY. GO TO VISIT SPAIN IN SUMMER, STOP EATING HAMBURGERS AND CHIPS WITH COKE AND EAT SPANISH FOOD FOR TWO WEEKS (REAL ONE, FOR EXAMPLE “RABO DE TORO” THAT IS TO SAY THE TAIL OF THE BULL WITH TOMATOES AND POTATOES) LISTEN TO FLAMENCO, SING WITH THEM, LEARN TO DANCE SEVILLANA, VISIT A “FERIA” IN AUGUST, AND GO TO SEE A GOOD BULLFIGHT WITH A FAMOUS BULLFIGHTER. MAY BE IT IS A BIT EXPENSIVE BUT IT IS WORTH. AND IF YOU WANT TO SEE SOMETHING GREAT : GO TO VISIT RONDA IN ANDALUSIA.
12. Closing comments?
Answer: I’M GLAD TO KNOW THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN BULLFIGHT. MAY BE SOME OF THEM HATE IT, MAY BE THEY ARE REAL “AFICIONADOS”, ANYWAY IT IS A TOPIC WORTH TO SPEAK ABOUT.
An Interview With Rejoneador Horacio Casas By Dale Pierce
1.A lot of information is on you on your webpage. What is the direction for this?
2. You have had some very good afternoons with novillos as a rejoneador. Where have been some of your most triumphant bullfights?
well i remember these year, exactly January 1st of 2004, because I had an accident with that bull, so I remember that the people was very happy with my courage, and they push me to have a great afternoon.
3.Youw ere to take the alternativa from Pablo Hermoso on January 1, but this was cancelled. Why and is the alternativa rescheduled/
there was some problems between the businessman and the government of merida, so that not concern to me, but the businessman told me, that I will have my alternative maybe on march, exactly as we talk, with Hermoso de Mendoza.
4. With whom were you trained in rejoneo?
I´m training all my life, with my uncle, Antonino López, he was one of the best rejoneadores from México last 10 years ago.
5. How many horses in your stable and where did they come from?
actually I have 12 horses, and they came from deferent’s places, ones from México, another’s from Spain, and another’s from Portugal.
6. Any favorite horse?
Yes, “OLE”, its an a Portuguese horse, who born here in México, and this horse I used to run the bulls, in every afternoon.
7. What do you think is more dangerous, being a torero on foot or on horse?
Each one are dangerous, its depends for the damage.
8. Aside from yourself, what other rejoneadores do you have admiration for?
First able, my uncle Antonino, Gerardo Trueba, Rodrigo Santos from México, from Spain, Pablo Hermoso and Andy Cartagena, and from Portugal I think Joao Moura, because he is the best one in the world.
9. Are you or your apoderado into negotiation for any of the ferias for 2005?
yes he already starts with the negotiation with Aguascalientes, Leon, Guadalajara, and some other important fairs.
10. You are from Aguascaklientes. Many toreros from on foot came from here or were born elsewhere but moved there. The Sanchez brothers, Rafael Rodriguez, Moro, El Estudiente , and Calesero. You are the only rejoneador to come from there, who is active now, correct? I believe El Praga has retired?
Sorry but I think you have an error, because I’m from Mexico City, and there is no one from Aguascalientes like a rejoneador write now.
11. What would you like to accomplish before retiring from bullfighting and how would you like to be remembered?
when the time comes up, I want to be a man of the bullfights, maybe a bullfights business mans, and I want to be remember as a good person inside these magnificent area.
12. Are there any more stories you would like to tell?
no thank you very much for the interview.
13. Incidently, where did you learn to speak English?
14. Closing comments?
congratulations to you, for be interested in this area.
An Interview With Bruce Hutton by Dale Pierce
1. You have spent several years as a practico or practicing bullfighter. Are yous till active?
yes i am, the world of aficionados practicos has grown.
2. When did you debut as an amateur in front of the public?
in 1964, a small plaza called la gloria near tijuana.
3. Where were you trained or did you just try to pick this up on your own?
i was trained mostly by walter de la brosse. however, along the way by such as jose ramon tirado. david renk, longinos mendoza and a few others. though,i have always learned from all.
4. Didn't you also appear ina fairly big festival with David Renk and some others in Tijuana a few years ago?
yes i did dale,it was david renk, raquelmartinez, pepe hurtado and myself. i was the promoter for this event. they were all good that day and i was very bad.it was in 1998, august i believe.
5. Now you have also performed as a novillero in the suit of lights?
yes, but none were sanctioned by the union. these were all independent novilladas. i never held a carnet, however amazing to me was the fact that in most of these theyr'e were novilleros punteros. many had at the least some cartel.
6. Any favorite bull ranch?
favorite ganaderia? well,hard question. however for me in mexico it may be la playa, and also arturo garcia. rarely have i seen a bad one from either ranch. in spain, the concha y sierras and the cabreras in the south. however, that comes from a practicos viewpoint.and not a toristas
7. Least favorite ranch?
least favorite, no comment.
cornadas,glad to say only two. one in my fundillo, the other above my left eye. neither turned out to be serious.
9. Best afternoon?
best afternoon, probably in d. f. in la plaza de chucho arroyo. where i appeared with the greatest practicos mexico has ever had. paul armand, lalo azcue, chicho arroyo, torres landa, etc. i cut the only oreja! the animals were on average 420 kilos.
10. Among the professional toreros, whom do you most highly regard?
pros and amatuers, in mexico i love alejandro amaya. though he has a very long way to go. in spain juli and ponce remain at the top for me. however, this salvador vega is the real deal.
11. Among the amateurs?
amatuers, well this one is easy. jim verner is at the very top. he is simply the best. a whole flock of us are chasing him.
12. Many horror stories have abounded about American matadores trying to get breaks in Mexico and Spain. Have you seen much discrimination, so to speak?
dale, almost never in my life have i seen any discrimination. i have heard that it is out there but i don't see it. both spaniards and mexicans have been wonderfull to me.
13. Where do you live now?
live in alpine, close to san diego.
14. Any other interesting stories to tell revolving around the bulls?
no other stories dale
15. Are you a member of any of the bullfighting clubs, as there are a couple in California?
16. Closing comments.
An Interview With Pieter Hildering by Dale Pierce
1.You are a major aficionado, yet you are living in Holland where there is no bullfighting. What attracted you to the bullfight?
It is very difficult to say what attracted me exactly. I saw my first corrida in Madrid because I wanted to see the Prado museum, the Alhambra palace and one, just one corrida. I got stuck on all three. Spain is relatively close to the Netherlands so I have the opportunity to go again and again up to a point that I have now seen more than 500 corridas but am still waitng for the 'ultimate' one. Only one or two, well maybe three have come close.
2. Isn't there a big bullfighting club in Holland and aren't you involved?
It is called the Peña Taurina de Holanda and I have been involved with it since the start in 1989, was its president from 1993 - 2000 and volunteered to preside it again at the beginning of this year. At its height we had around 60 members from all over the country. Every 3 months we publish a magazine called El Toro Detras Del Dique and were the first non-spanish club to organize a hommage to the countess of Barcelona in 1998. Due to failing interest and bad financial management in the past we are now sadly at the point where we have to decide whether or not we will continue with the peña.
3. You have written at least one bullfighting book. What is the title and is it still available?
The book is called Vanaf Het Zand (From acros the sand, Desde la arena). It was published in 2002, is written in Dutch and for those who can read the language it is still available. For those who wish to obtain it this website 'll help you: http://www.legemaat.dds.nl/toros2/zand/main.htm
4. The problem is it is only in Dutch, right? Have you ever tried to get it sold for translation?
We are working on a Spanish translation. Lately I have been invited to write ten columns for the Valencian bull-magazine Avance Taurino... in English! God willing they will appear daily during the Valencia Fallas of 2005.
5. You witnessed the death of Curro Valencia, the banderillero. How did it happen?
Death is always present in a bullring as it is in life. To see someone die whom you have known for many years is shocking but although we must mourn the dead, this doesn't mean we stop living.
7. Are you planning another bullfight book as I seem to have heard this someplace?
I am woriking an a book of short bullfight stories. The workingtitle is 'Dolores and the fearless hero of the bullring'. It will include the lyrics of originaly Dutch songs about the bullfight from 1946 till the present.
8. Have you done books on other subjects?
No sir I have not.
9. There was a novillero from Holland a while back. Did you ever see him and is he still active?
In between 1996 and 2001 a Dutch becerrista called Nikko Norte was active in Spain. I got to Malaga one day too late to see him making his debut but he became a friend. Even though I've never seen him perform live, he has a good Andalucian style and kills well. Sadly he encountered much resistance from the local taurinos who made his life very difficult. Last thing I heard from him was that he was living on Paquirri's old ranche and was trained by fromer matador de toros David Vilariño. If he ever makes it to his alternativa, I have a signed contract to receive the ceremonial capote. Ojala.
10. How often do you try to go to Spain?
As much as I can, two, three times a year. I average a mere 30 corrida a year.
11. Have you ever seen Mexican bullfights?
Not bullfights. Bullfighters yes. I have seen Manolo Arruza, Jorge Gutierrez, Armillita, Eloy Cavazos and lastly Zotoluco in a great Victorino Martin corrida with his great picador Efrain Costa. Mexican toreros seem to have great difficulties with Spanish bulls.
12. Do you have a favorite among the toreros, past or present?
My favorite bullfighters are mostly toreros de arte so I should name: Curro Romero, Rafael de Paula, Emilio Muñoz, Enrique Ponce, Jose Miguel Arroyo 'Joselito', Jose Tomas and Morante de la Puebla.
13. Any itneresting stories involving the bullfight that you might tell?
14. Closing comments?
An Interview With Tristan Wood by Dale Pierce
You have an upcoming book on bullfighting. What is the title and where it can be ordered?
The book is called 'Dialogues With Death: Spain's Corrida Today'. It will be published as a signed, limited edition next Spring by the Club Taurino of London (CTL) and the Club is currently inviting orders so it can determine the size of the print run. The text amounts to 103,000 words, there will be some 200 photographs and the book should end up at around 240 large format pages. The estimated cost is £25.00 ($44.50) plus postage and packing and orders from the U.S.A. can be placed by writing to Hugh Hosch, PO Box 888426, Atlanta, GA 30356 (email: email@example.com). Orders from elsewhere are being handled by David Buckingham at 1 Portway, Didcot, Oxon OX11 0BD, U.K. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). No payment is required at this stage.
What is the concept and the theme of the book? What might differentiate this book from the other books in English that have been written over the years on bullfighting?
The book grew out of my feeling that no books in English really captured the essence of the modern bullfight. English-speaking aficionados still tend to come to the corrida with Hemingway's 'Death In The Afternoon' or 'The Dangerous Summer' as their guide to what they are seeing. But the corrida in Spain has changed enormously since the 1920s and even since the 1950s.
A few years ago, the CTL published a book 'Brave Employment' by a former Club President, Walter Johnston (the book is now a collector's item). Whilst I admired the encyclopaedic breadth of the book, I profoundly disagreed with its focus on "toreo hondo" (deep toreo) based around Domingo Ortega's concept of cargando la suerte. It epitomised what the previous generation of British aficionados had been led to believe constituted great toreo, but it was an outdated and erroneous conceptual cul de sac. My view is that there are a number of ways of toreando a fighting bull and most of them are equally valid. The real key is lidiar - not to put on the same performance time and time again, but to adjust one's performance to the conditions of the toro facing you. I also feel that today's toreo is the richest and most diverse there has ever been and I wanted to capture its variety in this book.
The essential theme is that modern toreo is based upon a dialogue between man and bull, rather than a contest. It is the matador's job to bring out the best in the animal, as well as himself, while the bull's role is to follow the lure well whilst transmitting spirit and danger. Both man and bull face death during their combined performance, and this element remains an essential part of today's corrida.
'Dialogues With Death' is based upon nearly 40 years of watching bullfights, but also, importantly, draws upon a number of key Spanish texts. I was knocked out when I first read the belmontista Luis Bollaín's 'El Toreo' and there have been a number of important tauromaquias published since then, books like Arévalo's and de Moral's 'La Tauromaquia de José María Manzanares', José Luis Ramón's 'Todas Las Suertes Por Sus Maestros' and Santi Ortiz's 'El Arte de Ver Toros: Una Toromaquia Educativa'. Like Ortiz, I wanted to produce an analysis of what occurs in the ring based around the central character of the toro bravo. Essentially, 'Dialogues With Death' is a modern tauromaquia for anyone who reads English and is interested in the bullfight, whether as a beginner or as an experienced aficionado. I think the only English book that could previously lay claim to the description of tauromaquia was The Complete Aficionado by McCormick & Mascareñas, although that came laden with some cultural baggage that I, personally, found unacceptable.
The other aspect of this book which I hope will differentiate it from others on the subject is its photographic content. Ideally, I would have liked to produce an all-colour publication, but that has proved impossible within the price constraints, so most of the photos will be black-and-white with, hopefully, a few colour plates as well. All too often, photographs accompanying English texts on the corrida are kept to a minimum or have been taken by people with little understanding of toreo. (Indeed, the most recent books published in Britain on bullfighting have been little more than accounts of "my first corridas"). I wanted a book with knowledgeable illustrations which conveyed the beauty, effort and challenge, as well as the variety, of today's toreo.
This is not your first book, though, correct?
That's right. I wrote and illustrated a book on F2 motor racing (at that time, the step to F1) in the 1980s. I have also contributed to a number of books on housing, which is my line of work, and, in 1996 co-edited a book titled 'What Next For Men?', which looked at the future for men in a post-feminist world. 'Dialogues With Death' is the book I've worked on longest though; it's occupied a large part of my free time for the last six years.
Are you a part of the big bullfight club centered in London?
Yes, I've been a member of the Club Taurino of London for over 30 years, am a former Vice-President of the Club and now edit the Club's bi-monthly magazine, La Divisa, which many people describe as the best English language publication on los toros. Being a member of the CTL has been a vital part of my development as an aficionado.
Did you ever know some of the other British, Irish or Scottish wrote books on bullfighting in the past like Angus Macnab, Matt Carney or George Erik?
I've been in the same room as John McCormick and George Erik from time to time, but I'm quite a retiring type (and also have very different political views from those that Erik had), so wouldn't claim to know them. I have spent time in the always interesting company of Walter Johnston - he's the bullfight writer I've known best, in terms of people who've written books on the subject. Whilst I have differences with most of the old texts on bullfighting, I think it's important for anyone trying to gain a good understanding of toreo to talk with, and listen to, more experienced aficionados and that too has been an important element of my developing afición.
Living in England, how did you come to be interested in bullfighting?
I don't remember when it first happened. My parents took the family through Spain in 1959, when I was nine years old, and I was already interested in bullfighting by then. I think it was to do with the fact that it was dangerous, colourful and foreign and involved people of the same gender as me. It was also probably a bit of a reaction against the typically English view that animal welfare is more important than that of human beings. At school, other boys tended to be interested in football in the winter and cricket in the summer, and maybe my interest in motor racing and bullfighting was part of me setting out my stall that I was someone different.
Do you expect many negative book reviews, on the other hand, from animal rights activists, those opposed to bullfighting who cannot review without bias and such or do you figure any such negative publicity will add to the sales, by creating controversy?
The book's being published as a limited edition through the CTL, so I'm not sure how much publicity it will attract outside the world of aficionados. I haven't gone out of my way to seek controversy, indeed I respect the views of animal rights activists as long as they're vegetarian and make no use of animal products whatsoever. I just happen to think the toro bravo has a pretty good life and that a public death in the bullring has more going for it than an anonymous death in the slaughterhouse, where, ironically, an animal can be killed simply to supply pet food.
I do anticipate controversial reviews from some aficionados, though - they tend to be an opinionated lot. A friend of mine has already told me he's ordering two copies of the book - one to read and the other to tear up! All I can say is, I've put a lot of time and thought into the book and, if it helps people understand and think more about what occurs in the bullring, then that's a good thing.
If this book sells well, do you anticipate any others on bullfighting?
This book would not be appearing were it not for the support of the CTL (all proceeds will go to the Club and will be used to further the interests of the English-speaking taurine community), so it's hard to say. I tried to interest mainstream commercial publishers in the book, but it seems unless you're a well-know personality or writer or a book is tied in to some film or TV programme, it's very hard to get anything published nowadays - particularly on a non politically correct topic like the bullfight.
I'd be surprised if I wrote another substantial text on the corrida - I think what I want to say is all in this one - but it might be fun to publish some more taurine photos in the future.
Do you have any other favorite books or English-language authors on bullfighting themes?
I like the Hemingway books, they're beautifully written, it's just that they're not up to date. Robert Daley's 'Swords of Spain' I like a lot too - good, readable text and some excellent photographs. The Leslie Charteris translation of Chaves Nogales' 'Juan Belmonte, Killer of Bulls' is a great read, as is Collins' and Lapierre's 'Or I'll Dress You In Mourning'. Macnab's 'Fighting Bulls' and Tynan's 'Bull Fever' are excellent books too.
What about authors in general?
I don't get a lot of time to read non-taurine material, but, apart from Hemingway, some of my favourite writers are Eugene Ionesco, Ray Bradbury, Michel Tournier, Pat Barker and William Kotzwinkle.
INTERVIEW WITH BILL TORRES
You have been a practico for many years. Where did you first face a live bull?
A- I arrived in Aguascalientes in May of 1964 and it was there that I faced my first bull. But it was in Guadalajara that I faced one over 450 Kilos 3 months later. This was in a pachanga free for all with a full house in the Guadalajara Progreso Bull Ring The bull wasted me, but I was the hero of the day with all the young kids mainly because the bull cut a gash under my chin and I was bleeding down my neck.
And the most recent time?
A- The most recent was in April 17, 2004 in Castilblanco De Los Arroyos, Spain. I fought and killed a novillo from Manolo Ortega stock..
Who trained you, if anyone?
A- I left Aguascalientes late 1964 because I needed medical care ( Paratyphoid ) and came home. When I was ready to return my dad convinced me that I should have a maestro so I could learn to defend myself. So, he signed me up with the great Maestro Samuel Solis, from Mexico City, who fought several times with the great Rodolfo Gaona. He taught me at the Cortijo De Angel Izunsa in La Colonia de Romero Rubio. We had a contract for three months and I stayed with the maestro for several months after. He was a truly magnificent person. Did you ever consider a career as a professional novillero?
A- During and after Samuel Solis I tried hard many times to get into the professional circuit but I was not able to get any contracts for any important novilladas. A taurino from Mexico City, Oscar Pelaez saw me fight two large cows very well in the ganaderia of Rancho Seco, owned by Don Carlos Hernandez and from there became sort of an Apoderado for me and got me some small town novilladas in Toluca and La Florecita and others in Traje de Luces. I was happy and proud of myself and at this time was determined to become a professional Matador de Toros.
You and Jim Verner appear together quite a lot. Where did you two meet?
A- Some time in early 2002 Jim sent out an e-mail asking if anybody was interested in fighting in a Festival Taurino in Castillo de las Guardas, Spain in honor of our great author Barnaby Conrad. I answered Jim back and told him lets do it. So, I met Jim for the first time at Barajas Airport in Madrid where he picked me up. The festival turned out to be a great success. Jim is a knowledgeable practico and a good friend.
What attracted you to the world of a practicing aficionado?
A- Life has its ups and downs and I learned early on that just because you want something doesn’t mean your going to get it. One day you realize that Matador de Toros was just not made to be. In 1968 I was married, bought a home, had a good job and My daughter, Michele on the way, this new life was awesome, but there was something missing. I was invited to fight in an NATC festival in Tijuana in early 1969. I cut one ear and here forty years after I started in Aguascalientes I am still at it. But the real and main attraction is Toro Bravo, I truly respect him, I admire him for being a bravo, for his strength and beauty and his nobleness and I love him. I actually need him. Its sad, but its true, the only thing certain in this life is death and I must kill him.
Gorings or injuries?
A- I have two gorings and many injuries. I was gored in Ciudad Juarez, Chih. In a Mexican Convention for Aficionados Practicos. A novillo from San Antonio Triana got me while I went in to kill. I cut two ears in the Festival de Triunfadores. The other goring was muy grave, this was in Chino, Calif. In August of 1976 fighting for the Portugese community. A bull from Trincheras, gored me in the right upper leg near the groin, severing the safena vein. Toro Bravo got his chance at killing me.
A- I have had many good afternoons, but I will let someone else call them great. I can remember a novillo from La Punta I fought in La Mission Del Sol, Tijuana, that received the indulto from the crowd in May 1970. ears and tail. Another novillo from Santa Veronica in La Mission del Sol. In traje de luces, it was mothers day and I dedicated the bull to my mother sitting in primera fila. That day I cut two ears and because of this triumph I was asked by promoter Don Manuel Correia to fight in the Portuguese circuit in California. I fought for over five years as a professional (I was paid) with large animals. Another was a bull from Trincheras in La Mission Del Sol in 1972, ears and tail in Traje de Luces. One in the Cortijo San Jose in 1973 with a novillo from Vallumbroso in the NATC Convention, ears and tail and Gran Triunfdor. One of the most memorable for me was in the Monumental de Aguascalientes in 1993 with a novillo from Cortina Pizarro. two ears.
Favorite professional torero?
A- Manolo Martinez, (RIP) Morante De La Puebla, Jose Mari Manzanares, Paco Camino, Enrique Ponce and many more.
Favorite plaza or placita for you to appear in?
A- The Plaza de Toros San Marcos in Aguascalientes, and the Cortijo San Felipe in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. And I always enjoyed the Mission Del Sol in Tijuana.
A- I have been to many ranches and have enjoyed and liked them all but my all time favorite is Trincheras, owned by my dear friend Dr. Adrian Ortega (RIP). This ranch is near Santa Ana, Sonora. I have had the great opportunity of going there for twenty-nine years. Since the Doctors death, last year, the stock has been transferred to Zacatecas.
A- Not all afternoons are triumphs with the crowd saying you are the best, and tossing roses to your feet. Some afternoons are really sad and some are silent. There were times when I started that I went through hungers, and bad times with out money or a place to stay. I fought in the pueblo novenarios to make a few pesos passing the capote around the ring and traveling from one pueblo to another not knowing what was ahead. I fought huge sebus and criollos de media casta and got tossed, stomped on, kicked and even peed on, I have left the ring with bull excrement smeared all over my body. Yet as I recall, that one afternoon when you understand and fight your bull with honor and class and dominance and maybe cut an ear or two, then it’s worth it all. Today I have no regrets and can honestly say my fighting days were all beautiful and I would not change them for anything. I am one proud and happy Mexican American Aficionado Practico. Or better said a Torero. Today is Friday the 25th of June, tomorrow I will torear in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon in a Mexican festival Taurino probably with La Playa stock, (wish me luck.)
An Interview With Luis Pineda
1. Where did you study art for your bullfight paintings?
I'VE STUDIED IN ARGANDA DEL REY, WHERE I LIVE, WITH MY TEACHER WHOSE NAME IS MANUEL GARCIA RAMOS. HE IS A FAMOUS BULLFIGHTING PAINTER IN THIS TOWN. BUT I HAVEN'T STUDIED "BELLAS ARTES", I AM A "AUTODIDACTA" PAINTER.
2. Do you have a webpage?
YES, MI WEB PAGE IS WWW.LUISPINEDA.COM AND IN THIS SITE THERE ARE SIXTY PICTURES. THE BULL IS THE ESSENTIAL THEME IN THIS WEBPAGE BECAUSE THERE ARE LANDSCAPES TOO.
3. Where have you had exhibitions of your bullfight paintings?
MY PAINT HAVE BEEN EXHIBITED IN:
· Novembre 1999: Círculo de Agricultores of Arganda del Rey (Madrid).
· April 2001: Feria del Comercio de La Vall D'Uxó (Castellón).
· September 2001: "Casa de la Cultura" of Arganda del Rey (Madrid).
· Abril 2002: Feria del Comercio de La Vall D'Uxó.(Castellón)
· August 2002: Torrejón de la Calzada (Madrid)
· September 2002: Villarejo de Salvanés (Madrid)
· October 2002: Estremera (Madrid)
· December 2002: Carabaña (Madrid)
· January 2003: Colmenar de Oreja (Madrid)
· May 2003: Colmenar de Oreja (Madrid)
· September 2003: Villamanrique de Tajo (Madrid)
· January 2004: Chinchon Madrid
· Abril 2004: Feria del Comercio de La Vall D'Uxó.(Castellón)
4. Do you paint anything besides bullfighting?
I PAINT PORTRAITS, TIPICAL LANDSCAPES OF MADRID, BUT PRINCIPALLY I PAINT BULLFIGHTING THEMES.
5. What other bullfighting painters or painters in general have you studied?
I'VE STUDIED THE STYLE OF LOPEZ CANITO, JUAN REUS, SAAVEDRA AND ENRIQUE PASTOR. I THINK THAT THEY ARE THE BEST BULLFIGHTING PAINTERS. LOPEZ CANITO (WWW.LOPEZCANITO.COM) AND ENRIQUE PASTOR ADVISE ME ABOUT THIS THEME. THEY ARE MY FRIENDS.
6. Do you have any favorite painters from the past?
MY FAVORITE OF THE OLDER ARTIST IS JUAN REUS, HE DIED IN 2003 BUT HE WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BULLFIGTHING PAINTER.
7. What do you think makes your painting different from others in the area?
I TRY TO USE SHOWY COLOURS AND I TRY TO PAINT A REAL BULL: SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL,...ETC MY PAINTING ARE TRADITIONAL.
8. Do you have favorite toreros?
MY FAVOURITES BULLFIGTHERS ARE ENRIQUE PONCE AND MIGUEL ABELLAN.
9. Have your works ever appeared on bullfight posters?
YES, MY PAINTING HAVE APPEARED SINCE 1995 IN BULLFIGHTING POSTERS IN ARGANDA DEL REY. TO MAKE THIS POSTERS ARE A OLD TRADITION IN HIS TOWN. IT IS A PRIVILEGE TO DO IT.
10. Do you remember the first corrida you ever saw?
YES, I SAW THE FIRST BULLFIGHT IN ARGANDA WHEN I WAS TEN YEARS OLD.
11. Do you still go to the corridas?
YES, I STILL ATEND THE BULLFIGHTINGS WHEN I CAN BUT I HAVEN'T FREE TIME SCARCELY.
12. Closing comments?
I AM SO MUCH GRATEFUL TO YOU BECAUSE IT IS NOT FREQUENT TO FIND BULLFIGHTING PAINTERS FANS. I ADVISE YOU TO VISIT WWW.JUANB.COM. HE IS THE BEST BULLFIGTH PHOTOGRAPH. THANKS DALE.
Interview with David Costa by Dale Pierce
DALE PIERCE: To start, many readers on this page will know nothing or little about the bloodless bullfights or your band, so tell them about it. For the public as a whole, what is the name of the band you direct and where do they play?
DAVID COSTA: The name of our band is Filarmonica do Artesia D.E.S. and we have been in existence since 1972. We have played in different arenas throughout California, including Artesia, Tulare, Chino, Pico Rivera and Pico dos Padres. We also have played in different functions in the Azores Islands and in Fall River, MA.
DP: What instruments do you play yourself and did you play in a bullring band before becoming conductor?
DC: I play the mostly all of the brass instruments (Trumpet, Tuba, Baritone, rombone, etc). I played with our band about 19 years before I became the conductor in 2000.
DP: Where do you find the sheet music for the pasodobles, being you are in America, or do you play from memory like some Mexican bands?
DC: We get most of our songs from music publishers in Portugal or Spain, or people donate the sheet music to us.
DP: What are some of the pasodobles your band plays?
DC: We play Gallito, Espana Cani, El Gato Montez, which are pretty standard, plus some newer, or should I say, ones that are not as standard, like Nerva, Paquito Chocolatero, and Chiclanera.
DP: Do you have a favorite pasodoble and why?
DC: My favorite probably is Espana Cani just because it is very recognizable and it gets the crowd into the feista brava.
DP: Does your band play at any other events besides bullfights, such as community festivals and the like?
DC: Yes, we play concerts, parades and other community events up and down California.
DP: Have you ever thought of producing a CD of your band's pasodobles?
DC: Yes. We have recorded several tapes and CD's in the past and we have always included a couple of passodobles in each recording.
DP: I believe your webpage is already in our links but if not, what is the URL?
DP: You're also involved with other area social activities?
DC: Well, I'm involved with other Portugese cultural activities, but mainly I conduct the band.
DP: You mentioned many bullfighters have commented on how good your band is. Who are some of these people?
DC: Mario Miguel, Vitor Ribeiro, Cesar Castaneda, Joe Correia, Eddie Costa, and some other matadores and cavaleiros from Portugal, Spain and Mexico that I have forgotten their names.
DP: You seemed to disagree with some of the area writers concerning opinions of bullfighters. Here is a chance to make a rebuke. Go...
DC: No, I disagree with them when they say that Artesia's Portuguese Community is dying. I think we still have one of the strongest communities in California and we are very proud of what we do ad what we have
DP: Are you related to any of the other Costas involved in the bloodless bullfighting, like the rejoneador or the empresario? I believe these two are brothers?
DC: I think I am related to them, but on their mothers side, not the Costa side. I am cousins with Manuel Correia who owns bulls in Madera, and I am also related, although very distant, to Manuel Sousa, who owns Pico do Padres.
DP: PETA and other animal rights activists have been protesting the bloodless bullfights, even though the bulls are not harmed. How would you answer these people?
DC: I would tell them that it is our culture and that to stop bullfighting would mean to stop rodeos, horse racing, and other forms of animal sports.
DP: Why a band director and not a forcado or a torero? What interested you in the musical field instead, as far as bullfighting goes?
DC: I have played music all my life and since we always had bullfights in Artesia since I was a kid, playing in the band was a way I would get to see these events.
DP: What is your schedule like for 2004?
DC: As far as bullfights are concerned we are tenativley scheduled to play on March 13-14 in Pico Rivera for Pablo Hermosa Mendonca. We also have a bullfight in Artesia on Memorial Day weekend with Vitor Ribeiro and at our July festival.
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