This stings a lot! ”. Jorge Javier Vázquez narrows his eyes, clenches his fists, clenches his teeth and buries his chin in his sternum. "I can not anymore!". Having your hair bleached is a long and unpleasant process. The thick porridge of mauve powder mixed with hydrogen peroxide with which Viktorino (hairdresser of the stars) has thoroughly smeared his head begins to boil, removes the lipid mantle from the scalp and causes an unbearable itch. Her hair begins to change tone. First, yellow chick ("like the vedetes of the Parallel"); then prison gray; a couple of hours later, immaculate as snow. "Damn it stings!" And tears come to her eyes.
Occupational hazards. Vázquez premieres another reality show from Mediaset tonight during prime time and wants to have pure white hair; the perfect nails, the polished eyebrows and the impeccable makeup after three months doing live programs with hardly any technical equipment and with little budget for confinement. A survival TV. "No hairdresser, makeup artists, public, advertising or even cameras. Like a garage with spotlights. And the editors working from home. And the phone meetings. Without bosses. A washed face. It has been to start again. But it has given me life ... I believe that it has actually saved it. On March 13 I said to Vasile [the powerful CEO of Mediaset and his great supporter]: 'Count on me for everything!' And I don't regret it. I have felt useful. I have done more hours of television than ever. I have given entertainment to many people locked up at home. And for me it has been a therapy ”. Black sequined suit, patent leather shoes and albino hair for the new television normality.
It is a placid Madrid morning in early summer with the virus in apparent withdrawal. In front of the windows of the deserted David Dugarte hairdresser and his cloaked beauticians glimpse the sleepy gardens of the Palacio de Oriente. The star presenter of Tele 5 for 17 years, for his critics the great icon of the trash (a concept that continues to bother him and prefers to qualify as "fasttv"), is a small type, with a closed beard, hazelnut tan, glasses Tom Ford without crystals, 600 euros sports shoes from Balenciaga, Cartier's watch and a Zegna leather bag in which he hoards antidepressants, a Chanel vaporizer and a self-help treaty. He has come with a mask ("it's fine, nobody recognizes you") in a black BMW strewn with Apple screens driven by Herman, his Bolivian driver. JJ is talkative, kind and humorous. At times endearing. Play at managing the silences; it does not always succeed. It is questioning. You experience sporadic bursts of laughter; he handles the thick salt between the pink and the yellow until it brushes the black humor; he speaks listening and does not seem to have secrets. You are not closed to any questions about drugs, family, politics or sex. "I hung on to the cocaine eagerly." Describe bar toilets. Dark powders. Open the gaudy pacatería of a celebrity the doors of her soul and her house: from her imposing living room, decorated as a decadent old Hollywood grand production, to her frugal bedroom: “I like living like in a hotel; I like them impersonal and increasingly expensive and distant; they give me peace of mind. ” An infrequent uncovering among celebrities with their catalog of untouchable secrets in an interview. Vázquez confesses his own self-confidence. “I have been a bitch; I fell in love three times a day; I've wasted so much time with the boys… ”
"How many partners have you had?"
-Just two. But I don't remember the crazy nights. There have been hundreds. They started in a bar, followed in a disco, continued in a dark room, and ended in a sauna. Now I'm not going out. Not to go to the gym. I who lived next to Sol ... I am bored at night. Popularity disrupts your life. You can't do anything since camera phones were invented. I already made that dark part of the night, I had a great time. And that's it. I am not going to repeat something that no longer amuses me. I prefer to be at home.
"And how does it link?"
—For Grindr and Instagram.
It is the fourth time we have met. And the first one outside his mansion: "My fortress with an exit door." In a few days he turns 50. Half on screen. He doesn't seem happy at the prospect of his birthday. It oscillates between loquacity and melancholy. It takes fatal to grow old; He is terrified of stopping, getting bored, turning off, having no challenges, running out of surprises. And die. He fears death since childhood. However, he says he loves life after the pandemic more than ever. Its existence has something of continuous occupational therapy. Television, books, theater, musical works. Tours of Spain. Years without weekends. He does not sleep more than four hours. “I don't like to be my birthday; I don't like older people. Life has gone too fast for me. I have lived on television. Without having a minute to think. Not even if the programs I participated in hurt someone. It was all dizzying. Here is Tomato went from being a humorous program wrapped in gossip to being a justice, accuser and bitter. It was a shredding machine. For me it was pure entertainment. He did not give it more laps. On television, if you have an audience, it's your alibi. You go on and don't reflect too much. There is no time. You have to be in the air the next day. I always think about running away. Where would you run away to? Brazil, Lanzarote, New York, Lisbon? I've thought about all those places, but I never make up my mind. With my partner (we broke up in 2017 after 10 years together and now we are like family), we thought about it a lot. We dreamed of leaving. But in this business, if you leave, if you stop going out, you have to be clear that you are not coming back; stop calling you. The more you go out, the more they order you. To get out you have to get out. There is no time to choose, but to work. Either you have audiences, or you are not. You cannot be distracted. And even less with personal crises. You may feel like resting, but you can't afford it. I haven't stopped going on screen in 20 years. I've exposed myself more than anyone. And that destroys a life; you are never prepared to lose anonymity; to be stopped or insulted on the street; to be the national laughingstock; so that they look at you askance, they record you drunk or someone counts the last dust that has thrown with you. To receive hosts from the left (I am his faithful voter) and from the right (especially Vox does not stop giving and threatening me). And also from the homosexual movement that considers me a bad ladybug. Once, during a party at Shangay magazine, I received a boo that lasted minutes. I didn't know where to go. But I am not a reference of anything; I am not a gay leader, nor a movie star, nor one of the eyebrow. I am a worker. I do not associate with the rich or with politicians. I don't know the presidents. I'm not on Hello . And I must be the only presenter who hasn't announced a department store sale. I am not chaste. I am a trickster. A vulgar guy who can't go outside. "
Whatever he says, the king of television spaces that strip the existence of others (and themselves) with solvent ("on the screen lovelessness works more than love; more than happiness, unhappiness; more infidelity than fidelity ”) is the first that has turned his life into a show of rapid consumption. Fast food. Something equivalent to the histrionic master of ceremonies from the movie Cabaret , who introduced the artists on stage with a vitriol (the dwarf, the bearded woman, the transsexual) while cross-dressing in front of the public. JJ is an arsonist firefighter. His life and that of his winks make up the script for a program that lacks it. There is no team of writers capable of writing one of five hours each day in which the plots twist, extend and derive from insignificance to infinity. And under the watchful eye of millions of the faithful.
During the three months of confinement, Vázquez has appeared on screen an average of 24 hours a week. Some days, 8. And it continues with that rhythm of vertigo. Four programs at the time on the grill ( Save me, Save me Deluxe, The strong house and The Last Supper ) in a continuous loop of plots of the current hybrid of celebrities and, above all, their collaborators, second-rate celebrities, alleged journalists some , oscillating between reality and fiction. It is the genre that has dominated since it was launched into the television heart arena in March 2003.
"It is, simply, the reality dramatized and divided into chapters, like a South American soap opera," defines this theater addict (also an actor, singer and producer since 2015) who, as a child, was reluctant to jump onto the college stage in case some partner yelled "Marica!" And whose first performance (he was 14 years old and played Poncia in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice ) was not attended by his parents. He would have died of shame at the inquisitorial gaze of an immobile and depressed father, who died in 1997 of a brain tumor, who never dared to reveal his sexual orientation and who has learned to love in the absence. “I don't know how it would have taken to find out that his son was the national fagot. His death gave me the freedom that I had lacked since I was a child. I could tell who it was. "
He was an insecure, lonely, sensitive and wise teenager. Like now. Home schooled with the heart press. That he preferred to stay in his 50-meter flat with his mother (Mari) and his two sisters rather than go outside to play. Son of a maintenance manager of a factory and a darning machine from Murcia and La Mancha. Pure charnegos. He is still ashamed to speak Catalan in public. Neighbor of a heroin-ravaged immigration neighborhood. Educated by Opus Dei. And that he studied Philology for the love of the Golden Age. And because he was not clear what to do. What was clear to him was that he liked boys. And I couldn't tell anyone. It took to finish. I was afraid of AIDS. "I had so many fears ... I have used alcohol as an anxiolytic. I owe him a lot. It has served me to enter to flirt in the bars of atmosphere and as consolation in the low hours. I have learned more from those terrible hangovers in which I have questioned my character and I have come to doubt everything that of my more zen and calmer days. Emotional stability seems agony to me. I prefer suffering to boredom. "
"Do you regret something?"
—I would have liked to live that insatiable sexual ardor of the 20 years with normality. To have lived the love of youth with naturalness, tranquility and happiness. I could never. At every step I thought I was going to run into a neighbor or a friend of my father entering one of those gay bars in Eixample in the late eighties in the late afternoon. I could not live that wonderful time of youth. And you don't get that back. What has really marked me is my sexual orientation.
JJ has been reborn in the era of the coronavirus. After years of sadness. Of feeling fat, ugly, dirty, old and hated. Although rich. "My relationship with money is strange, I need it but I don't need it." Now he says he is at his best professional moment. And who loves his job; that he is no longer a divo, that he prefers to be part of a team; I wouldn't trade television for anything. “Working is the best I have; It no longer weighs me down, it lifts me up. ” According to the data of the audience (those that are injected into a vein every morning), during the past month of April, that of the deadlock of the state of alarm, the daily consumption of television per inhabitant has been the highest in the historical series: 303 minutes (more than five hours in front of the screen) a day, while in the same period of 2019 there were 233. A trend that continued in May. In this context, the audiences of the multiple programs presented by Vázquez have ranged from two to four million viewers. He has been the absolute leader in the afternoon and evening strip. He has ripped his rivals apart. And pulverized his best records. He's in shape.
In just 15 years, JJ went from the San Roque neighborhood, on the border between Barcelona and Badalona, a place strewn with old blocks of houses inhabited by re-housed Francoist barracks, immigrants and gypsies, to the armored Madrid urbanization of President Suárez and the CEO of the Ibex. His house is large, surrounded by a huge garden and impregnable from the outside. As soon as you enter you have to go around a glass gym where you are pounded every morning with a coach. He bought this house in 2010 from a wealthy family who came unless he had no money to put the heat on. I remake it. "It cost me money, but as a child I dreamed of a chalet with a pool, like Belén Esteban."
Three large greyhounds snooze in the living room on brown velvet mats with a gold valance by the piano, a Steinway & Sons gem. The fourth, the only female, Lima , rubs against her legs. He kisses her. "Is in love with me". Herman mows the lawn. His Paraguayan maid serves tap water in a deco glass . A penny for him. "I am always on a diet, but I have lost 20 kilos." He shows it by appearing by surprise in a swimsuit so that we can witness his slim silhouette.
Everything here is art deco ; from the streamlined greyhounds to the furniture, curtains, books, lamps, pictures, bases and sculptures. And, of course, the bathroom. There is expensive and unique furniture, such as a huge bar counter and an office that he never uses. “I've never had a party here, or a dinner or anything. I don't like having people at home, I'm looking forward to them leaving. ” Eat alone, grilled fish or chicken, at an elegant table ( déco ) while watching YouTube videos of old performances by Liza Minnelli or Sinatra. Through the hall ( déco ) and up the stairs ( déco ) you reach your bedroom, disordered and impersonal. Without photographs, details or memories, except for a kitsch figure of Saint Judas that Bethlehem Esteban gave him and took off recently on television. I open the closets in her dressing room. They are empty. In the huge shoe rack there are expensive models, but dusty and old-fashioned.
"Why isn't there anything in your closets?"
"I don't like clothes." It does not worry me. Before, I didn't buy it because I was planning to lose weight. I came to weigh 84.7 kilos. And then I got used to brands leaving everything for programs. I come and the stylists dress me. I don't have to think about anything. That gives me a lot of peace.
"Do you prepare your programs a lot?"
-Nothing. I know them by heart.
The tour culminates on the top floor of the house, in a large room that has never been used as a transplant from Morocco, with its columns, arches, Arabic inscriptions, cushions, latticework and marquetry furniture. It seems removed from Casablanca. He brought most of Tangier and Marraquech, two cities that he frequents.
In the latter, he suffered a faint on Saturday, March 9, 2019. He did not care. "I am a beast, I thought I was tired, with this life I lead ...". The following week he went to work each day with dizziness and headaches. On Saturday the 16th he was admitted. “I love being in the hospital, you don't glue a sheet and nobody bothers you. And I am fascinated by anesthesia, about dying a bit. " After scanning him, doctors located a stain on his brain. An MRI concluded that it was "a picture of subarachnoid hemorrhage of aneurysm origin." A stroke. He underwent an emergency operation. “The surgeons told me that it could have been fatal; he had been close to death. I stroked her. He had a crazy rhythm. But there are no sequels left. And I will not stop. I like my rhythm. " A month later, on April 27, 2019, he returned to the set.
Tuesday morning. New meeting with JJ. This afternoon he is admitted to the same hospital for catheterization. An ordinary but delicate review. He will rest on Wednesday at the clinic and on Thursday he will face the Survivors final on Tele 5 (which will be followed by four million viewers). You have to be fasting. We walk through the garden. He's in a good mood. He doesn't seem concerned. He never answers the phone. Jokes and gossips. Above all, politics. It is considered a type of lefts. That he came to declare in Sálvame at the beginning of the pandemic: “This program is one of reds and fags. It is our declaration of principles. If you don't want to see it, don't see it. " Social networks came over him. Compared to the insults that were dedicated to him that day, for example, “the physical and moral degeneration of the human being”, Save me is child's play. But, to be objective, the aggressive, fast style, loaded with hoaxes and half truths; with continuous baits to retain the viewer of Vázquez and his trash, it has become the norm today even in some political gatherings, where the concerns of journalists / actors strongly aligned and identified with the left or right matter more than the news that be able to supply. Political reality TV.
"Is it Save me from reds and fags?"
—It is certainly not for those people from Vox who want to make believe that Francoism was better than this. This is democracy. And Francoism was a dictatorship where homosexuals were persecuted. The sex education I received with Franco was terrible. Don't tell me now that it was a paradise. I have to be intolerant of that intolerance. There is no room for fascism in my programs, new or old. Sorry. And I like Pablo Iglesias and Minister Yolanda Díaz more and more, although every time I act in a public theater in any municipality in Spain, the Podemos councilors give birth to me and try to suspend him. It is the story of my life. Do you think Sánchez has done it as badly as the right says? I like phenomenal Simon. I am very of this coalition government ...
The prime moment of JJ's political reality during the pandemic was around the viral storm that broke out when conservative journalist Alfonso Merlos telematically launched an anti-government muffin into the country confined to managing the covid-19 crisis. At that moment, his partner (also rising star of Tele 5) in underwear walked behind him to the pool to the surprise of the viewers. For a week, Vázquez, between reality and fiction, without a script, thoroughly crushed the severe hunted opinioner. And, incidentally, the rest of the spokesmen from the far right. He did not stop laughing live. The final point of the Merlos affair was this lapidary analysis by JJ that set the networks on fire: "This is the decomposition of the media right." He narrowed his eyes, stretched his lips and made a bad boy face. And he burst out laughing.
It was the end of April. A few days later, someone posted a fake video of the murder of Jorge Javier Vázquez on the networks . The next day the presenter denounced him at the police station. The finishing touch of JJ's confrontation with the extreme right was in late June with an exchange of Twitter messages with Santiago Abascal. The leader of Vox gave him this: “I present to you the authentic Kim Jong Vázquez who is dedicated to demonizing and hysterically insulting four million Spaniards. We will not allow it, progressive millionaire. " Vázquez defended himself: "Yesterday I did singing the Cara to the sun and not watching TV."
Third date. We are on the porch. In the center of the glass table is a bowl full of sun creams. Vázquez relates the depression that was unleashed after the stroke. “It was from a book. It is common after a stroke. I think my father always had it. And my grandma. It must be congenital. I patched it for years. He had her for longer than he thought, she was crouched. I thought it was sadness. But he was so screwed up. Even if you don't want to be aware for a long time, you do care that they love you when you appear on television. If you are successful, if so many people see you, if you are a winner, how can they not love you? Well, no. Do not want you. Many hate you. And that affects you. And it leads you to try to justify the work you do in front of everyone because you are asking them to love you. Now I have understood that I do not have to justify myself. You can not have everything".
The summer after his surgery in March 2019, the world came down on him. “I was left without illusion and without strength. It was all fear and anguish. I thought my life was over. Nothing motivated me; I felt older; it was the end; the end of life, of love and illusions. I thought of leaving. Until I decided to go to the psychiatrist in September 2019. I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed a standard dose of antidepressants. And I am in a process of rebirth. That has established itself with my work in these pandemic months. It was my escape valve. It is the best moment of my life ”.
Last date with JJ. In his huge dark room. Recite Seneca. A show with monologues by that 1st century Cordovan philosopher was going to premiere on March 13 in Córdoba. He was the producer and sole actor. He was going to assume his dramatic coming of age. “Although people must be clear that they are coming to see Jorge Javier Vázquez, and not Pepe Sacristán in Señora de rojo sobre fondo gris (de Delibes). This is not frivolous for me; it is not, as one medium wrote, 'Narcissus buys a toy'. It is a passion, what I have wanted to be all my life and for what I lacked the courage. I stake my money and pay 20 salaries. Is that a whim of a rich television narcissist? ” The answer remains in the air.
The text is titled Dismantling Seneca and is a rereading of his Discourse on the shortness of life . Its premiere had to be suspended after the state of alarm was decreed. Once the new normality arrives, he wants to put it on the scene as soon as possible. And stumble around Spain. "And have drinks after the show in Logroño or Malaga." Is the theater a way to reconcile with the left-wing intelligentsia that has always despised him? "No way. It is a way of being happy ”. JJ insists, in line with Seneca, that the wise man is the one who wisely remembers the past, knows how to take advantage of the present and arranges the future. This is how he would like to live. Something complicated within the television din.
JJ says that his father never dared to leave the depressed neighborhood of San Roque, in the heart of Badalona, with his family, in search of a better destination. "It was his dream, but he was a coward and he couldn't run away." He died in that apartment of Marqués de Montroig, 196-198, eighth third, who claimed to hate. The same thing happens to Jorge Javier Vázquez with television. It's like the junkie who claims to convince himself that he can quit heroin whenever he wants. He will never leave television. It's the only thing he loves. —Eps