Roberto Enríquez (Madrid, 1971) tells in ‘Maricón perdido’ what it meant to grow up in Spain in the late 70s and early 80s as a chubby and homosexual kid. His salvation was to become Bob Pop, writer and television personality who signs the most imaginative and sincere autobiographical fiction series of the year, which TNT will premiere next Friday.
-The series tells how Roberto Enríquez becomes Bob Pop, the search for an identity.
-In fact, that’s why the title goes so well: ‘Lost fag’. He is a queer looking for himself, and finds a name that is not his. Identity appears when you take away the name and surname given to it by others.
-It does not soften his past, this is not ‘Tell me’.
-Absolutely. I hate nostalgia. This is not a return to neo-Phalangism, how beautiful the family is. I’m going somewhere else. I tell you about the time in a somewhat dreamlike and spooky way. It’s not how cool the 80s were and how easy everyone bought a house. It’s about something else. Nostalgia is deeply reactionary, there is nothing good about it. It involves recreating memory, which is tricky. To wallow in something that we really don’t know if it was so seems stupid to me.
-In recent times perhaps we have sinned nostalgic.
-Yes. It is a form of evasion. They are fashions that terrify me because they have to do with a whitening of a lot of things that were terrible. It is the denial that we are getting better and better, even if it doesn’t seem like it. We have achieved a lot of things and we still have to fight for many more. But that nostalgia doesn’t help us at all. It’s like fucking dystopia, we have to leave it and go back to utopia. You have to leave nostalgia and think about progress.
-Was your mother really dedicated to visiting show apartments in the noble areas of Madrid?
-He was freaked out. The worst thing is that I thought as a child that they were apartments that belonged to aviation pilots, that as they spent their time flying, they left empty houses. I was thinking, what a strange taste pilots have for decoration, how much wicker. He looked at the photo frames and assumed they were places they had been to.
– Your mother, played by Candela Peña, also had that fondness for theft of figurines?
No, I must break a spear for my mother and say she never stole anything. I liked to tell it like that. When I was older I understood that my mother visited those floors to fantasize about who she could be in another setting. Taking souvenirs from those trips worked very well for me, but it’s pure fiction. My mother never stole. Don’t worry mom, it sure has already prescribed.
-We never see his face to his father, played by Carlos Bardem.
-I had it very clear since I wrote the script. I didn’t want to see my father’s face again, not even in fiction. Carlos has been very generous, I have taken one of his work tools, his facial expression. Thus he has been able to demonstrate that he is a piece of actor. Without the face, he is capable of communicating the terror transmitted by his father in the series.
-We are used to seeing homosexuals on television, but they are almost always successful.
-Yes, it is success as a price to pay. Your way of redeeming yourself as a homosexual is to be excellent, much better than others. You have to pay that price for your homosexuality or your transsexuality. That success was a way of reflecting on them, the only voice you had was that of triumph. That is why there have been so many cases of famous homosexuals that the group has later considered them traitors to the cause. The only way they can give you a voice is to get there. And at the top the rules of the game are different and maybe you end up using your voice for other things or you are even part of the enemy side. It is complex. What is preferable, not selling yourself and not finding a place to raise your voice minimally? I have been lucky to find a place, with Andreu (Buenafuente) or with the series, and that they let me say what I want. That is what has led me to success, I have not had to wait for success to say what I wanted.
-Then you are also a winner.
-I feel that in a way I have succeeded. And suddenly I see myself on the other side. The way I pay my debt to society as a fag is success. At least, I give a show. I don’t believe much about success either, eh? I don’t really know what it is.
-Take your life to a series.
– For me the success is that they listen to me, either in a series or in a television program. It has been so many years without raising my voice for fear that they would catch my pen and make fun of me or hit me with a stone … And now I have that privilege.
Review of ‘Lost Fagot’:
-You are a cultural prescriber for many.
-Thanks. I like to share my enthusiasm. When I wrote a TV review, it was much more poisonous and harmful. In recent times I only talk about things that I like. Time is so limited that you have to enjoy yourself. It is a way of making myself known, that others know who I am. When you’re a queer from that teenage generation, no one treats you for who you are because you’re afraid of being rejected. They end up treating who you make up or who they want to believe you are.
-You don’t act.
-In the life? I think not. I say like Candela Peña: I am a very bad actor for life. What I do do is that I no longer deal with people that I would have to act with. That really is status. It’s like when I see famous friends who don’t have a cell phone: that’s success. The rest of us need it because we wait for them to call us to work.
-He suffers from multiple sclerosis. The disease also has a place in the series.
-It’s very important right now in my life. For a long time I turned my back on him, but there comes a time when the disease comes and prevails. It may seem frivolous, but forcing you to stay still also forces you to think more. This immobility forces you to reflect and tell things differently.
-How is it going?
-With half a body paralyzed, come on, weak. The disease is a progressive process, I don’t know where it will take me. I have a good neurologist, physiotherapy… I do everything I can to be my best. But it is a brutal uncertainty that no longer scares me. I have discovered that I have a world that surrounds me, close and accessible, which makes me very happy. I try not to be blinded by privileges, I cope well with the disease because I have an economic status. Many people cannot afford a caretaker, a physio, or an adapted rental home. This we should all have.
-Is it better when you suffer?
-Not. There is a moment in ‘El disenchantment’ in which Leopoldo María Panero tells of his experience in the Mondragón asylum. And he says the locos were a gang of motherfuckers. Pain doesn’t make you better. I am convinced that I would be a much more interesting person and would have made better use of my time if I had not had to deal with this pain, which is of no good use.
-I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a gay sauna or cruising scenes in Spanish fiction.
-It was time. As a National Geographic queer, I find it very interesting. Straight cis men mythologize when they think that we fuck all the time in the saunas. It’s pretty sordid, but I’m going to show you. I wanted to show all the rituals and protocols. I am an authority on saunas and cruising and I was forced to share my knowledge of so many years. My first novel takes place in its entirety in a sauna for eight hours. I have come to go to the Retreat to fuck in January at one in the morning. You have to have a lot of hobby to do it. Who better than me to explain it to the world!
-A chubby and homosexual boy has it easier today than at the end of the 70s?
-I think so. There are still undesirables, but more and more allies, loving people. The world is a little less hostile, the refuge is simpler. Although now there is harassment ‘online’, where you can not close the door, they are there all the time. There are also security spaces being created. In the series I wanted to tell about affection and kindness, which seems basic to me.
-How do you convince Pedro Almodóvar to play himself in the series?
-Because it is prettier than anyone. I didn’t have to convince him, he read the script, gave me advice and said that of course he was going to make the cameo. We were recording for seven hours and then we had dinner with Andreu and Berto (Romero). It was very easy, a gift from life. Everything I can tell you about him is like this. Since we have met I have only received generosity, affection, intelligence and fun. Pedro Almodóvar does not appear in the series to boast that he makes me a cameo, his presence has all the narrative sense.