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My flamenco fetish

Many years (rather decades) ago, I started collecting personal objects that belonged to my favourite flamenco artists. I have stuff from Niña de los Peines, Manolo Caracol, Marchena, Manuel Vallejo, Tomás Pavón, Farruco, Manolo Sanlúcar, Manuel Molina and Mario Maya, among others. I’ve been for ages trying to find any object from Manuel Torres, but it’s not easy. Some years

Many years (rather decades) ago, I started collecting personal objects that belonged to my favourite flamenco artists. I have stuff from Niña de los Peines, Manolo Caracol, Marchena, Manuel Vallejo, Tomás Pavón, Farruco, Manolo Sanlúcar, Manuel Molina and Mario Maya, among others. I’ve been for ages trying to find any object from Manuel Torres, but it’s not easy. Some years ago, a great cantaor from Cádiz and very good friend of mine passed away, and on the same day he died, his widow told me that she had a box ready for me with some of his belongings. It took me a while to pick up that box, but when I opened it I realized he had bequeathed me almost everything having to do with his artistic and also personal life. He didn’t have children and his widow probably thought that all those things would end up in a dumpster when she died, as it often happens. Sometimes I’ve been to flea markets and I’ve found personal objects that had belonged to famous artists (no need to say names). It’s a sad thing, of course. I don’t have children either and sometimes I wonder what would happen with all my stuff after I leave this earth: my books, albums, posters, pictures, souvenirs from artists, letters… Would all that end up at the flea market or in the dumpster? Probably it would all go to the Flamenco Museum in my hometown, Arahal, which would be the best option. Among the things from Niña de los Peines that I have there’s a flamenco hair comb, one of her famous peinecillos de canela(1). You won’t believe this, but after I get up and shower in the morning, I usually comb my hair with one of those hair combs and it makes my day. I also check the time in a pocket watch that belonged to her brother Tomás, who collected and even repaired these watches. You cannot imagine how great I feel when I wear a scarf that belonged to Farruco or Caracol, or when I write with a fountain pen of Manuel Molina. I have two dance outfits of Mario Maya, but I haven’t worn any of them because I’m almost six feet tall and the master was rather short and thin like a pencil. Oh well. From Antonio Mairena I only have three wonderful letters that he mailed to my home, written by himself on a typewriter and signed by hand, naturally. A treasure. I have a flamenco fetish, I confess, just like some of the artists I’ve mentioned had one, too. I don’t think it’s something anyone plans to do, it just happens out of an inner need to have something from an artist or a person we admire due to their art or to any other reason. Antonio Mairena had in his house in Seville a whole room solely dedicated to flamenco, with the walls filled with pictures and souvenirs from his masters and colleagues. That room was his universe, the place where he studied and wrote, where he would meet friends to talk or to sing a little. He would talk about Manuel Torres as if he talked about God, with moving veneration. A big portrait of Torres was at the center of it all, a testament to the admiration Mairena felt for that gypsy cantaor from Jerez that he was lucky to meet in person.

 

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Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...

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