Heels of fortune
l’lamhoyant and passionate he may he. hut at heart Antonio Gades is the classic Spanish traditionalist. as Donald lltttcra tinds on a Visit to the flamenco king‘s home.
l:\cn g'rcat tncn lime to walk thcii' dogs. It‘s. a sunny \‘tindas morning in an afﬂuent suburb of Madrid. .\ntonio ( iadcs. the leading Spanish dancer of his j't‘tict'aitt'li. ushers me. a translator. two managers and tailed alsattan named 'l‘ronco iSpanish for ‘good tricnd‘; into his \‘l.l\s_\' casa. Signed original paintings h} l’icasso and Mini adorn the walls. l’hothraphs ot (iadcs posing heside ('astro attd other high-piotilc pals are equal testimony to an illustrious
career lt‘s liccts all round as (iades good-- ltumottrcd hut c‘\;lsl\'c'. and still a looker at nearly (Ti) talks ahout himselt‘and the si/xling. streamlined ﬂamenco ( Luna It lies hringing to .\la_\‘lcst for its Scottish preittierc. t‘oncei‘. ed sitttultattcottsl} tor stage and screen in It“ 1. (1mm n was the second in (‘rades‘s acclaitned triloars ot coilahorations with lilm director Carlos \attia .‘~.long w ith [Noni] Hedi/rug attd .rl /.Ul'(‘ lit /u it. their take on the infamous cigarette girl‘s tragcd} ranks atttong the most successful dance lilms cxcr (Jr/tit 1: c\cn snagged an ()scar nomination for
No way, José: Stella Arauzo spurns Gades’s advances in Carmen
hest foreign film (though it lost the award to Bergman's I’tntrrt' AIM].‘i/(CUHH/FI'). It‘s even more thrilling as a galvanically live. almost militaristical|_\' precise piece of theatre. with (iades‘ himsclt centre stage (it somewhat subdued) as Don Jose. and the suitath sultry Stella Arau/o in the title role. It‘s a rare treat. too.
‘I would put it in the euphoard.‘ says (iades. ‘hut they're still asking the for it. and they've alwa) s given the applause I think the piece deserves.
‘I don't do a show mery _\ear.‘ he contittttes in a hard‘edgeu hass. ‘.\la_\hc once ever} ten years. My lather taught the a phrase: "\Vhen l'm hungry. I'm the boss." To me tltis means I dance w ttlt whotnl want. when l want. w here l want.‘
'liltet'e haxe heen stretches of up to halt a decade when. for political or personal reasons. (iadcs neither danced nor produced work. lies olwiously a cultured ntan. lamiltar with hallet. tttodcrn art and drama from l.orca to Shakespeare at the tnention ol~ the latter he spontaneoust launches into "l‘o he or not to he . . despite it pt'olcsscd lack til littgitsli.
But in the field of llamcnco he’s a legend. with a god’s right to dispense wisdom lle's heen at it since
‘My father taught me a phrase: “When I’m hungry, I’m the boss.” To me this means I dance with whom I want, when I want, where I want.’
he was a teenager. 'l'xe alwa} s tried not to prostitute the art. hut to maintain the essence or tlameneo.‘ he \Lt}\. ‘l‘\c watched others race ahead. trying to lind new things. People like to in\cnt hut rcall_\ it's all been done before. I stick to the roots. going further hack into tradition and lost customs each time I tttake a piccc.‘
This is as near to a j‘iilittsttpli} ol dance as he'll get. ‘l‘or me. dance is nothing more than an espression oi what _\ou‘re feeling at a certain moment. ' he sa}s. lie is unwilling tor lililtl‘icl to pinpoint csactl} what he feels onstage. ‘liet’orchand. I'm frightened; afterwards. I‘m tired.‘ is his succinct \tililttitlt'}.
Asked w hat inlluencc he thinks he‘s had on the art of flamenco. (iades is similar!) non comtttital. But alter a pause. a sardonic smile crosses his strong- honcd lace and he linds his own epitaph: ‘l lc was a hard worker, He worked a lot.‘
('ttrmt'tt. (bur/truth; .i/I/t'riw that? \. Kilt-J '\ l/it'tt/n'. (Ii/(fv'x'ttlt‘. i/ilt' .8‘(l‘l’ .Utit
Lounge lizard of Oz
If you catch Australian singing sensation Bob Downe at the Renfrew Ferry this Mayfest, and find yourself wondering whether he’s for real, then you’ve kind of missed the point. Check that hair for follicles, folks — Bob’s as synthetic as his suits.
But it’s in that sliver of raised eyebrow — between all-out king of camp and sly commentator on royal campness — that the Bob Downe phenomenon resides. Increasingly these days. it can suddenly yawn open, making way for some outrageous indiscretions.
Former journalist Mark Trevorrow, the flesh and blood behind Bob’s flaky facade. is in no doubt about his
Bob Downe: king of camp or sly camp
relationship with his alter ego. ‘The
longer you do something like that, the more compartmentalised it gets,’ he remarks prosaically. He should know: he’s been doing it all his life.
Officially created twelve years ago in swinging Sydney, Bob’s first incarnation came earlier. ‘lt’s something I’ve been doing since I was a small kid,’ explains 37-year-old Trevorrow. ‘l was obsessed with people like Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey, Ann-Margret, Gary Glitter, Suzi Ouatro. It was a fairly intense time for showbiz types, wasn’t it?
‘I love them now for different reasons,’ he continues. ‘I love them now from a knowing point of view.’
Bob was one of numerous characters Trevorrow tried out during his journeyman comedy years, first with The Globos —- a 605 revival cabaret — and then as half of A Nice Young Couple. But in 1987, be abandoned all else to focus on the Bob job. A year later, Bob’s support slot with the Doug Anthony All Stars at the Edinburgh Fringe launched him on a trajectory to
‘l’m having so much fun with Bob,’ he gurgles. ‘He’s giving me so many ideas and things to do. It’s like what Barry’s done with Edna. Sometimes you have the great good fortune to stumble on a character which is very three- dimensional and allows you to roam very widely, and I think that’s what’s happened. I don’t want to abandon him mid-stream.’
There’s a third party in their lives, though. Edinburgh’s August of enflamed passions brought Bob into contact with Merseyside medusa Lily Savage. ‘They met across a crowded Festival and recognised each other for what they were — Radio 2 people trapped in a Radio 1 world,’ recalls Trevorrow. It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. ‘She’s so busy at the moment that Bob hasn’t seen or spoken to her for about six months. But that’s love, you know? If it’s true, it’ll last.’ (Andrew Burnet)
Bob Downe, Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow, Wed 22 May.
18 the l.ist l".1tt.\la_\ twin