I just finished reading ‘Fabiógrafía’. Who could resist the title? Or for that matter the subject? Fabio is the Fanny who lit up so many early Almodóvar films (PEPI, LABYRINTH, even LAW OF DESIRE) enlivening General Erection Contests or Killer Driller porno shoots with her gender-bending freshness, candour, intelligence, bravery and wit. I thought that like, so many in the Movida, she’d died in the nineties of either AIDS or heroin. But no, here she is telling us her story, and tarnishing her legend in the process of gilding it.
The story is told by Fabio but written up by Marío Vaquerízo, Alaska’s husband, who keeps bragging that he’s got a degree in journalism but constantly demonstrates how little he learned from it.
He certainly doesn’t question anything Fabio/Fanny says (did all teenagers really go live on their own at 17 in Spain in the 70s? If not, what was it that drove him to leave his family home in Ciudad Pegaso , the factory town he grew up in on the outskirts of Madrid? His sexuality?). Nor does he contextualise; and so he allows quite a lot of corkers to get through. Did people really enjoy a lot more sexual freedom under Franco? If Fanny says so it must be true. She tells us all about her drug taking, the various people she lived with, her relationships with various artists around the Movida, and whether and how they got along with each other; how her collaborations with Almodóvar in the films, records, comic books, and live shows came about and how it came apart (she got hooked on heroine and became unreliable). But she tells us the facts, not the processes that led to them nor how she felt about any of it.
Everyone was great, everything was fun; 90% of the book takes us to the late 80s….and then people start to dies and her career goes down the tubes…and the book quickly comes to a close. We get little about any of this. In fact we get little about her feelings; if it wasn’t fun, it doesn’t really get discussed in Fanny’s universe. So we know she put her parents through hell, went in and out of re-hab, has three incurable chronic diseases (but which ones?). She’s re-found God and attends mass regularly; she’s become a right-winger who’s carried the flag in the monument to Franco and Fascism that is ‘El valle de los caídos/ The Valley of the Fallen’. She’s gone back to painting not very good pictures which everyone tells her are great. Self-analysis is clearly not her thing. Like in Lana Turner’s autobiography however, we do get an account of practically every outfit she ever wore, where she bought it, how she put it together and whether it was Bowie, Iggy, the Velvets or the New York Dolls who influenced it. So it wasn’t a total loss. But it makes for sad reading, particularly since one suspects 80s Fanny would have seen present-day Fabio as her worst nightmare.
The first of a series of podcasts on the work of Pedro Almodóvar. We begin the series with his first film, PEPI, LUCI, BOM Y LAS CHICAS DEL MONTON/ PEPI, LUCI, BOM AND OTHER GIRLS LIKE MOM (1980). The podcast discusses the historical context for the film; the ‘nueva movida madrileña‘; his style and how it improved over time; recurring concerns with pop culture (comics, films, magazines, pop music); recurring themes such as rape; camp as tone; the film’s combination of the outrageous with the common sense; how many of the actresses who would star in his films for the next decade already appear in his first film (Carmen Maura, Assumpta Serna, Julieta Serrano, Cecilia Roth, Kiti Manver, Eva Siva etc) and much more. We also talk of how this film has become a document of a series of individuals and indeed a whole sub-culture that was soon to disappear.