It has all the weather of a well-recognized story: intercourse, betrayal, medicine, fights, dying, success and a descent into hell. And it has its personal particularities: handheld followers, pointed sneakers, songs that grew to become hits in Spain and Latin America, and jail. The creator of Locomía, Xavier Font, sports activities an ethnic-themed tattoo that covers his bald head. He had it accomplished proper after he acquired out of jail, after he was sentenced in 2012 to 3 years in jail for drug trafficking. Authorities had discovered ecstasy drugs in his home. Additionally they discovered bottles of poppers, however the substance had evaporated, so Font couldn’t be charged for his or her possession. “The drugs belonged to a pal. The popper bottles had been mine. I bought them on-line to acquaintances. I’m repeating the identical factor that everybody in jail says, however in my case it’s true. I’m harmless. It was an injustice.” Font spent three months in jail and was rewarded for good conduct: he loved his freedom throughout the day however needed to spend every evening in a Barcelona detention heart. When he was launched in 2015, he moved to Cuba, married his mother-in-law (“so she might get her papers”) and stayed there for six years. Such a hanging chain of occasions is typical of Font’s life.
Font joined EL PAÍS for an interview in Barcelona within the firm of his husband, Harold, a 24-year-old Cuban who he married virtually 5 years in the past. “I’m going all over the world on the lookout for locomías” [the band’s name is a play on the words “locura mía,” or “my madness”]. However now that I’m 60 years outdated, I hope this would be the final one,” Font explains in a hoarse voice. An upcoming Movistar Plus+ documentary, which premieres on June 22, retells Locomía’s extraordinary story. Titled merely Locomía, and subtitled “the best cleaning soap opera ever danced,” the movie, directed by Jorge Laplace, consists of three 45-minute episodes. It options twenty-some voices, and Font’s story varieties the spine of the movie. Sitting in a lodge within the heart of Barcelona, the place he lives, Font says that he needs to show his husband into the subsequent locomía, though Harold acts fidgety. “We’ll see, we’ll see…,” the younger Cuban hems and haws. “He’s my final dragon. I’m a headhunter. I see potential artists. I’m a get it on fantasy maker. That’s how it began,” says Font.
That’s not fairly how it began, although. Xavier’s father and mom had been rural landowners. Their six sons loved a cushty life within the household’s sprawling farmhouse in Sant Boi. “We had all shiny new issues. My father squandered a fortune on the on line casino. He was a gambler. With my mom I at all times acquired alongside effectively and obtained a whole lot of love. Each of them accepted my sexuality with none hassle. I used to be by no means within the closet. My father would come into my room and see me with my boyfriend. He took it in stride,” he says. He purchased materials on the Mercat dels Encants and made tunics, jackets and coats. He was influenced by the type of early-eighties British New Romantic bands, together with Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Spandau Ballet. However he took every little thing to the acute: shoulder pads went XXL. Sooner or later, at an museum, Font seen some pointed sneakers from the 14th century and went wild. He made his personal. He didn’t wish to be a designer: he created garments for himself, then wore them in probably the most fashionable locations in Barcelona. He appreciated to draw consideration. He wished all eyes on him. “The sneakers had been key. Individuals couldn’t cease them.”
Font settled in Ibiza in 1984 searching for to create a subculture scene. He had met a Dutchman, Gard Passchier, with whom he had a relationship, in addition to Manuel Arjona, a younger man from a conservative household of 10 siblings. Over the telephone, Arjona says, “Once I arrived in Ibiza it appeared like one other planet. I got here from Viladecans, the place I needed to conceal my sexual id. And on the island, in case you had been a boy and also you wore a skirt, nobody even checked out you. It was a wild change.” And he remembers that “at the moment, Font had an awesome energy of seduction, each professionally and personally.” Font had romantic relationships with each Gard and Manuel. However they wanted yet one more locomía: the ringleader’s brother, Luis Font. The 4 settled in a home in Ibiza. They designed their flashy outfits and went to the stylish nightclub Ku. They started to draw consideration, and the homeowners employed them. They had been paid 1,000,000 pesetas a month (€6,000 on the time). What was their job? Dancing on tables, exhibiting off, flirting. They carried out a dance with followers, which Font designed after seeing some homosexual New Yorkers dance in a venue in Sitges: “That they had small followers, and I seen a motion that captivated me. I acquired dwelling and began constructing. As I’m an exaggerated I invented the XXL followers. I acquired the motion with 9 rods that I took from the fabric of considered one of my brothers, who labored in mannequin airplanes. I made some holes and used my mom’s sheets.” Font had a nostril for enterprise, and he started registering every little thing legally: the sneakers, the fits, the followers, the identify Locomía.
The group of Ibiza locomías grew to 16, between members of the quartet who got here and went, designers and secretaries. They functioned as a commune. Font was a lover of a number of of them, generally concurrently. “I had a harem and I invented polyamory in 1984. I might by no means get sufficient. At this time it’s unhappy to say, however whereas I used to be in a relationship with Manolo and Gard, I used to be going dwelling with one other new man. I used to be the forerunner of the entire motion and had a whole lot of unpaid staff. After all, they didn’t lack something,” he factors out with out blushing.
The timing was necessary. Spain’s ruling Socialist Get together (PSOE), in authorities since 1982, was searching for to supply a contemporary and unprejudiced picture of Spain. Madrid’s countercultural motion, La movida, was in full swing, and director Pedro Almodóvar had simply launched his fourth movie, his most profitable thus far, What Have I Carried out To Deserve This?. Locomía had a spot on this motion, significantly as a result of they had been primarily based in hedonistic Ibiza. They represented an aesthetic and sexual freedom that captivated younger individuals searching for references outdoors of their oppressive classical schooling. Newspapers coated the rise of Locomía, they usually grew to become an attraction on the island that was frequented by stars together with Harrison Ford, Grace Jones, Boy George and Freddie Mercury. Throughout a 1987 birthday go to by the Queen frontman, the singer confirmed up on the boutique that Font had opened in Ibiza. He purchased two fits at $1,000 apiece, and Font gave him a pair of his well-known pointy sneakers. Mercury appreciated them a lot that he wore them in considered one of his final movies with Queen, the 1991 I’m Going Barely Mad.
After 4 profitable summers at Ku, the group wanted to go away the island. Manuel Arjona was having severe drug issues. Their home burned down with all of the costumes inside (Font means that the fireplace was brought on by individuals jealous of Locomía’s success). And the dance and modeling group obtained a suggestion to turn out to be singers. José Luis Gil, then president of main recording firm Hispavox, appeared on the scene. He was behind Locomía’s ascent.
Gil had notable expertise discovering artists and getting their careers off the bottom. He had labored with Miguel Bosé, Enrique and Ana, Rafaella Carrá, Nacha Pop, Alaska and José Luis Perales, all family names in Spain. He was identified for his nostril for future stars. Gil found Locomía after attending considered one of their exhibits in Ibiza. “I like your visible idea,” he advised them. “Have you ever thought-about the potential for singing?” They reached an settlement.
Gil’s mission was to show Locomía’s anarchy right into a enterprise. At this time, Gil describes the mission over the telephone: “After 4 years in Ibiza rubbing shoulders with probably the most fashionable people in Europe, Locomía was only a commune of entertainers directed by a frontrunner of doubtful morality who had their home burned down and had been expelled from Ku. My supply to show them right into a music group saved them from separating.” And the conflicts started between Font and Gil, two incompatibly robust personalities.
Gil gained the primary battle. Font left the group (“I didn’t like to bounce and put on the garments that Gil advised me to put on”), however he saved the model and continued receiving a wage. The group needed to have 4 members always, so Font was changed. “Individuals assume we had been simply 4 good-looking, tall boys. However there may be a whole lot of work behind that. When Gil arrived, we spent two years taking dance and singing lessons. We grew to become professionals. We by no means stopped working,” explains Arjona. Gil signed on the producer Pedro Vidal, they usually started to make music. The primary album, Taiyo (1989), was a success. Its songs included Locomía (with its well-known line “Disco, Ibiza, Locomía, moda, Ibiza, Locomía, attractive, Ibiza, Locomía”) Rumba Samba Mambo and Gorbachov. “The thought was to create a Spanish-language band who performed dance music, since there was nothing like that on the time,” says Gil. Javier Adrados, biographer of Mecano and La Unión, was on the launch of the primary album in Madrid: “What we noticed that evening at [Madrid nightclub] Pleasure Eslava was very related. Completely fashionable. There have been some cultural phenomena in Spain, akin to Almodóvar or Alaska, who opened a thousand and one closets, however Locomía was the definitive door to a perfect world that till then hadn’t existed. For the primary time, homosexual energy took over all the dance floors and, extra importantly, the festivals in probably the most distant cities in Spain.”
Gil suggested the group members to be ambiguous when speaking about their sexuality. “However I by no means restricted their freedom,” he emphasizes. The group was an ideal match for selection exhibits hosted by TV stars of the day like Concha Velasco and José Luis Moreno, who drew massive audiences. As Gil’s group ascended, Font grieved (“I had left my herd in Gil’s palms”), brooded over his revenge and continued to receives a commission for doing nothing.
Underneath Gil’s steerage, the quartet made the leap to Latin America. From Argentina to Mexico to Peru, they ignited a craze. Lots of of ladies waited outdoors airports for his or her arrival. Followers climbed the partitions of their resorts and burst into tears at their live shows. Youngsters snuck into their beds. Gil’s technique of retaining the band members’ sexual orientations quiet had had labored: 80% of the followers had been feminine. After the second album, Loco Vox (1991), got here out, Gil obtained a hefty contract to enter the USA market. Since Font was primarily based in Miami, Gil determined that he ought to deal with the matter. That’s when the bomb exploded. It was 1992. The iconoclast as soon as once more employed his energy of seduction: Font satisfied the 4 of them to interrupt the contract with Gil. “Gil was stealing from us,” Font argues. “And I felt screwed as a result of Gil had taken my boys from me, and I wished to screw him over.” Gil contests Font’s account: “The boys’ lack of expertise gave Font an unhealthy management, which he exercised considering solely of his ego and his personal profit. We discovered in a fax from Miami that the group was leaving the corporate and breaking their commitments.”
Manuel Arjona nonetheless regrets that call at the moment. “We had been ungrateful to Gil. It was an enormous mistake to interrupt the contract. That ended the group. We had been 4 youngsters who let ourselves be fooled by Font.” However the warfare had solely begun. Gil, who owed the file firm one other album like Locomía, recruited three new guys, who joined Luis Font, Xavier’s brother. “My brother is the Darth Vader of Locomía. He went over to the darkish facet out of ambition and energy,” says Luis about Xavier, justifying his resolution. For nearly a yr, two Locomías battled one another by live performance boycotts, calls to trade bosses and lawsuits. The battle culminated in an iconic popular culture second: Gil’s Locomía was slated to carry out on a significant Mexican tv program, Siempre en Domingo. Followers, inspired by Font on the telephone from Miami, grabbed one of many members by the hair till he bled. The whole lot was broadcast reside.
In Locomía’s lowest moments, the group grew to become the goal of homophobic mockery. Each variations of the group fell aside, and Locomía’s profession got here to an finish in 1993. The group’s fall coincided with the primary cracks in fashionable Spain: unemployment, corruption and demonstrations occupied increasingly area on the information.
The warfare between Gil and Font continues to rage. Font owns the group’s identify, and Gil owns the songs. Locomía’s members have been changed again and again, and their performances are inconsistent–to not point out different misfortunes: in the summertime of 2018, two members, 46-year-olds Santos Blanco and Frank Romero, died one month aside. Gil has warned Font in opposition to utilizing the songs’ recordings, which he owns, in live shows. Locomía has been lipsynching of their performances for a while. “If he continues with that angle, I’ll sue him,” threatens Gil, who’s ambivalent concerning the Movistar documentary, by which he seems. “There may be little music and loads of sensationalism. That’s why I’ve requested for my identify to be eliminated as an affiliate producer.”
Manuel Arjona will be the key character on this story. He was the primary locomía, and he has been concerned within the mission for 35 years. “I’ve felt utilized by Font. For him, Locomía is only a enterprise. For me it’s work, however it is usually my life. The historical past of Locomía is a gaggle effort. It could not have occurred with out everybody’s contributions. 5 years in the past, I needed to stop as a result of I wasn’t incomes cash and I needed to deal with my mother and father.” His father died a yr in the past, and now he takes care of his 98-year-old mom. Arjona, now 55, is in negotiations with Font for future initiatives. “However we’ve got to speak. I can’t be an worker of Locomía. Now we have to be companions.”
Font, for his half, trusts that the documentary will reactivate Locomía with him on the helm and with the faces of 4 new younger males. “I even have signed for a actuality present in Miami to search for the 4 preferrred locomías. However what I actually need is to go to Eurovision. And above all, I’m owed a Grammy. I’m not going to cease till I get it,” he says, waving his ringed palms. The fan golf equipment that also survive in Spain and Latin America cling to a hope: the locomías are condemned to get alongside, though they haven’t succeeded in three a long time.