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All these books have one thing in common: they are full of scandalous, morbid and surprising details, but also overwhelming sincerity – even when they invent, misrepresent or fable – through which an already disappeared world and society are perceived. The result is exciting enough that, reading them, we forget for a while about our own lives. Below we select twelve scandalous Spanish autobiographies that are perfect for reading this summer. We also explain why.
Paco Rabal: ‘If I told you …’
Character. Owner of the most famous waiting voice in Spanish cinema, Paco Rabal was a respected actor both inside and outside our borders. Among the directors he has worked with are Buñuel, Almodóvar, Saura, Visconti, Chabrol and Antonioni.
The scandal. In the memoirs that Paco Rabal wrote with Agustín Cerezales in 1994 there was everything. And when we say everything, it’s everything. The early discovery of sex that included masturbation and zoophilia scenes, the appearance of a pedophile who tried to abuse him as a child by inviting him to knickknacks and the movies, a feint of multiple rape in a hospital, the shocking account of the poverty of the time … The set is sometimes so amazing that some of the memories are read as fragments of a magical realism novel. In an exercise of sincerity, Rabal does not avoid his well-known reputation as a promiscuous conqueror, and along with the great love declared on several occasions by his wife, the actress Asunción Balaguer, his multiple infidelities also appear, which included well-known interpreters, prostitutes and anonymous women all types.
A fragment. “18 prostitutes of all colors and sizes. And all, absolutely all, were lesbians. When each of the girls, exhausted, went to sleep, suddenly, like a signal that started soft and rose to a shout, a scandal formed, a giggle of woes and sighs, which thundered in the building. They made love madly, furiously, with each other. Amparo explained it to me: ‘They are tired of as much motherfuckers as they have to endure.’
Carmen Sevilla: ‘Memories’
Character. Actress, dancer and tonadillera, Carmen Sevilla represented the whitest, most innocent and kind image of her time. In addition, she formed an apparently perfect marriage with the composer Augusto Algueró, who arrived as a virgin, as he was then sent and expected of a “good girl” like her. With her return to the front line of the media after several years of retirement to present the Telecupón, she became an absent-minded and endearing older lady, as beloved as she had been in her youth.
The scandal. The famous journalist Carlos Herrera was in charge of collecting and ordering in 2005 the memories of the popular actress. Beyond the terrible confession that film director John Berry had tried to rape her, Carmen dared to break her immaculate aura by recounting the two abortions that she had already undergone, married to Algueró, and confessed the horrendous marriage she lived with he, full of infidelities on the part of the musician, who also spent large amounts of money in casinos. Beyond this, his memories exemplified what a repressive education could do in a person: the fear of sex and the absolute ignorance of everything that had to do with human sexuality.
A fragment. “I admire and respect the couples of today who know each other and go to bed and respect each other and then each one lives at home. It is also that perhaps they have a more awake coconut and they know what they want and they are couples, or boyfriends, and they go to bed or not, but I applaud them. But back then we didn’t go to bed. We had our fun, but we did not go from there. There were touches, kisses full of affection, but there it all ended. I did not sleep with anyone in any bed. Getting into bed with an uncle, even if he did nothing, was taboo for me. To go to bed was to lose everything. Now, on a park bench, in a car, on a step, in a garden, on a hill … there you could hug and have a walk with the couple, but always dressed. The bed was an impressive taboo. I had to go virgin and married to get into bed with an uncle, that is, with my husband. “
O well. “I had no idea. What a greater truth than sexual experience is very important between men and women, understanding each other in a bed! It’s everything! From the waist up, I was divine; but from the waist down, I had no fucking idea, because I didn’t have the experience of doing things to men, nor did I know that men had to do things to me. It really is very hard, very strong! ”
Alfredo Landa: ‘Alfredo the great. Life of a Comedian ‘
Character. Iconic actor in Spanish cinema, he went from representing a genre of his own – “el landismo”, vaguely erotic popular comedies before being uncovered – to being accepted and recognized as one of the best actors in the country, capable of making dramatic cinema, television or humor. all.
The scandal. Marcos Ordóñez –novelist and author of other essential memoir books, such as the one dedicated to Nuria Espert or Beberse la vida, an oral story about Ava Gardner in Spain– had long conversations with Landa and managed to preserve his voice in such a degree of authenticity that the book, published in 2008, reads almost like an open-heart monologue. This included stark honesty that raised as many blisters as applause. He accused José Luis López Vázquez of stealing papers; he called producer José Luis Dibildos a “professional con artist”; Josele Román said that “he got everything”; Concha Velasco, who “was a very good girl but later joined the rojerío”; by Gracita Morales, who “became a capricious, despotic, intractable woman … They stopped calling her because she did not comply and, frankly, because no one could stand it” … and also charged against the lack of talent and passion of contemporary Spanish cinema .
A fragment. “Healthy envy is gone, the one that makes you sick. The other day I saw Tommy Lee Jones, one of my favorite actors, doing the retired cop from In the Valley of Elah. Extraordinary film, one of the best of the year. And Tommy Lee Jones was fucking the candle. A long time ago, I saw something like that and the demons took me away, he said to me: “Damn, how good this guy is, I want to do something like that.” Or the German actor from The Lives of Others. Those are characters and movies that I would have gone crazy for. And not now. How strange, I thought. I am over with envy, desire. Do you find it sad? Well, I don’t know if it’s sad. It is so ”.
Sara Montiel: ‘Living is a pleasure’
Character. “Saritísima” was an actress, singer, erotic icon and one of the first Spanish women to go to Hollywood successfully. Her voice, her excessive gestures and her glamorous diva aura made her one of the most recognizable faces on the homeland scene.
The scandal. True to her reputation as an unbeatable seductress, in her memories collected by Pedro Manuel Víllora, Sara reviewed her romances with writers such as Mihura – she being a minor and he being over 40 years old -, with her first husband Anthony Mann or with Ernest Hemingway But the controversy came from telling that he had had a long affair with Severo Ochoa, then married. The heir to the scientist called this episode “pathetic delirium of an old woman who used it to promote an infamous libel.” Believe it or not in the actress’s testimony, her memoirs are a fast-paced reading, in which the same story tells how the yogurt first tasted that her friendship with Burt Lancaster or her avatars in the film industry.
A fragment. “It is not because they considered me a single woman, it was because they considered me a bad woman, as they said then, a sinner. And besides, since I became so famous and popular, Franco did not want people to be given that example of freedom. This was a totally horrible world, and I don’t have to say it. History says so, and History I have not written, but I have lived it. In that world I made my career, and that world wanted to take advantage of me. Franco used me: through Cesáreo González, he used me. When my films became veritable bombings in the Soviet Union and its satellite countries, they sent me to Russia and Romania; He went to Russia in exchange for oil, and to Romania in exchange for wood. ”
Poli Díaz: ‘To blows with life’
Character. He was one of the last professional boxers in this country known to the general public. “El colt de Vallecas” embodied the values of a impoverished Spain that literally went ahead with hosts. His fall from grace in the form of drug addiction and homelessness made him a bitter metaphor for the dangers of success.
The scandal. With such wickerwork, Poli Díaz’s memoirs, published in 2013, had already gained part of our interest. With a colloquial language dotted with expressions “cheli” and humor, the boxer developed his career from a childhood of needs in the worst area of a slum to triumph, fame and poorly digested money. Poli Díaz pocketed 100 million pesetas when he lost the fight of his life, became a porn actor, got hooked on heroin and ended up living in a tent next to a Madrid drug supermarket. The book ended with an optimistic redemption written from apparent stability, although after its publication Poli Díaz made the news again for getting into fights outside the ring.
A fragment. “I boxed for money, and for money I also got into porn. But the powders that interested me were others ”.
María Luisa Merlo: ‘Beyond the theater’
Character. Daughter of Ismael Merlo, mother of Amparo Larrañaga and Luis Merlo, sister-in-law of Amparo Rivelles and wife of Carlos Larrañaga, María Luisa Merlo is, in addition to being a member of a long line of interpreters, a film, television and theater actress.
The scandal. In writing the actress’s memoirs, Pedro M. Víllora had the virtue of maintaining a very colloquial tone that reads like an intimate conversation with a close friend. In addition to narrating her stormy relationships with Adolfo Marsillach, Carlos Larrañaga and Juan Diego, La Merlo was surprising especially for the crude description of her cocaine addiction and ecstasy. He also spared no details about his spiritual enlightenment process, with mountain meditation retreats included. Carlos Larrañaga was bothered by the vision his ex gave of him, whom he presented as a “sick” don Juan and his years of marriage as “a civil war.”
A fragment. “He had a very strange life, and at five in the afternoon he was already at the camel’s house. Later, when it was well set, I would go to pray for an hour at the church next to the Slav, because cocaine made me completely mystical; apparently he did nothing to me, but what is clear is that he took the depression away from me and then returned it much stronger. So my life was camel-church-work, and after work I went to bed, where the effect of the cocaine with pills and joints fell.
Cayetano Martínez de Irujo: ‘From Cayetana to Cayetano’
Character. Rider, Duke of Arjona, son of the Duchess of Alba, Cayetano is perhaps the most mediatic of his brothers for his risky love life and the frequency with which he appears before the media.
The scandal. These memories belong to the category of book-therapy with which to settle accounts with their past. Of course, Cayetano had a long list of infamies that he had tried to overcome in the most diverse ways over the years by dealing with various psychologists and submitting himself to Scientology techniques. His memories began as those of a “poor rich boy” raised without affection by nannies who mistreated him, with a very cold relationship with his mother and some of his brothers and affected forever by the early death of his father, which was never explained to him. and why he felt they were abandoning him. He is also sincere when talking about the null understanding with his mother’s second husband, Jesús Aguirre, or his addiction to drugs and sex, which he explains as an attempt to alleviate that lack of attention in childhood. In a less dramatic section, he confessed an idyll of just three months in his youth with the Infanta Elena, something that their respective families could not see with better eyes.
A fragment. “The model was the last of my shoe in the worst way. I, who thought that all women were at my disposal, savored my own medicine: I was a Machiavellian and cold woman, with a double personality ”.
Fabio McNamara: ‘Fabiography’
Character. Whether as Fabio McNamara, Fabio de Miguel or Fanny McNamara, his name is inseparable from the move, but it goes much further. Singer, painter, actor and above all star, his career eludes any classical definition.
The scandal. Written by his friend Mario Vaquerizo, McNamara reviewed his intense life from the classic education of the child of late Francoism until his return to declare himself a convinced Catholic and enemy of abortion. In between, a story as faithful as hallucinated from the years of the Movida, the world “chochoni”, the “fawn”, drugs, fashion, dotted by supporters such as Costus, Almodóvar, Tino Casal, Alaska or Carlos Berlanga. With their own language and their mix of references, the memories are a very entertaining walk through the world of a unique character.
A fragment. “I was very attracted to cemeteries and I wanted to go there with my friends, but they passed completely; normal. I was also interested in magic, psychology, I read Freud a lot … You can see that I have always been a little crazy. He hallucinated with everything that was different ”.
Amparo Muñoz: ‘Life is the price’
Character. Amparo’s beauty led her to be named Miss Universe in 1974 and thereby achieve world fame, but her resignation to the crown just six months later showed that she was not a woman who docilely followed the marked path. For better and for worse. Her acting career, her emotional problems and her addiction to heroin made her the protagonist of the news for several decades.
The scandal. Beyond the classic term of “broken toy”, Amparo Muñoz’s memoirs, written in collaboration with Miguel Fernández, perfectly describe a sociocultural time and moment. His life had heroin braces of a newsletter: from the portrait of an anonymous young woman from Malaga without great ambitions, her breakthrough in the privileged circles of the jet set, love affairs and hence the collapse due to heroin, to redemption final. Muñoz does not spare a bitter vision of the world of beauty pageants that devoured young and inexperienced women like her, with offers to engage in luxury prostitution, invitations to participate in orgies and the presence of a woman in charge of misses who tried to seduce her. The account of his romances with other popular names such as Patxi Andión, Máximo Valverde, Antonio Flores or Elías Querejeta covers the sentimental part, and does not evade his responsibility when it comes to telling how he got into drugs, since his then partner offered him a mix of cocaine and heroin on the canvas of a yacht in Venice. Perhaps one of the aspects in which he stands out most is in showing how widespread structural abuse was, from the opportunity to get papers in exchange for sexual favors to the horror that when he wanted to abort in Mexico, all the doctors with the that he consulted, they demanded that he sleep with them before the operation. Not surprisingly, these memories, already discontinued, are sold in the second-hand market at stratospheric prices.
A fragment. “I left Malaga one morning in the summer of 1973 and returned thirty years later, sick and disoriented, lying on a mattress, in a minivan.”
The Poison: ‘I say! Neither whore nor saint: the memories of La Veneno ‘
Character. From street prostitution to absolute stardom and from there to decadence, Cristina Ortiz “La Veneno” was one of the most famous transsexuals in Spain. Highlighted in the 90’s by Pepe Navarro in the program Tonight we crossed the Mississippi, the country was fascinated by its imposing presence, its naturalness and its own language full of great vulgarity. The ephemeral fame upset her forever. After going to jail for a scam, a new generation rediscovered her thanks to the Internet.
The scandal. Valeria Vegas achieved a complicated double mission: on the one hand, to convince Cristina to entrust her life to him over several recording sessions, and to manage to transcribe and order all the information without losing an iota of her innate and inimitable grace. Poison’s life was full of misfortune and misunderstanding, but her way of telling herself was as sad as it was fun, frivolous and memorable. Among his romances, he named some bullfighters, footballers and presenters without names, but that was the least of it. What shone is the point-blank vision of survival through the authentic lumpen. Proving that he was not a character of tangential interest, the first edition of the book sold out shortly after it came out, and the same has happened with subsequent reissues. Cristina passed away in 2016, just a month after the book’s publication, which has recently been turned into a television series.
A fragment. “When Andrea was admitted very sick, because she had AIDS, I went to visit her and I brought her some saucepans that she loved. In front of many others that were right there, he came out and said to me: ‘Look, Poison, when I die you will put yourself in my place, on the corner with the Pintor Rosales roundabout. And there I put myself and it was my place to do the street. It was a nice gesture, she knew how to face death and instead of collapsing she left me the best she had, her place on the street, a privileged place. ”
Terenci Moix: ‘The weight of straw’
Character. Best-selling writer, awarded with several literary awards, famous for his television appearances and his writings in the press, Terenci Moix was one of the most popular intellectuals of the second half of the 20th century, both for his works and for his overwhelming personality.
The scandal. Terenci’s memoirs were originally published in three volumes -The Cinema on Saturdays, The Kiss of Peter Pan and Stranger in Paradise-, and were immediately considered part of his best works. They work either as a very personal experience, as a chronicle of an era or as a literary exercise. The descriptions of the Barcelona of his childhood are striking, the emergence of love for cinema as a saving exercise and the idea of exile not for political or economic reasons but for sexual reasons, in order to live his homosexual identity freely. Other famous people such as María del Mar Bonet, Pasolini, Maruja Torres or Néstor Almendros appear in this portrait of childhood, adolescence and youth that the author planned to continue, but cancer and death prevented him.
A fragment. “After futilely romping to create the illusion of a little desire, he dismissed me from his side and exclaimed, ‘You don’t have sex. Only a film library hangs between your legs. ‘ In response, I hugged his body, thinking that this was how he denied his words, but he insisted: ‘When you want to be cultured, a library hangs for you. But it doesn’t change the matter. ‘
Lolita: ‘Flowers and some thorn’
Character. Singer, actress, eldest daughter of Lola Flores, link of an important dynasty of the show, famous since her birth, Lolita has managed to be a great character of the heart and at the same time a recognized artist.
The scandal. Co-written with Javier Menéndez Flores as an interview, the book covers both Lolita’s work side and her most intimate part, offering curious anecdotes and unpublished confessions about both realities. The memoirs describe the privileged environment full of interesting contacts in which he grew up, detail the construction of his career following the unexpected success of Amor, amor and, in a surprising turn, do not avoid episodes that could have brought him greater economic returns in a television interview that narrating them in a biography. Thus, Lolita relates her relationship with Paquirri or her depression as a result of the death of her mother and brother Antonio, which led her to resort to alcohol and drugs.
A fragment. “At that time, I used to beat my hands on the doors, with great anger and tremendous discomfort for my brother. I was crazy for two years. Crazy in the sense that she didn’t sleep, she ate very little, she drank a lot… Except for heroin and LDS, I tried everything ”.
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