Mariachis and philosophy
TXT: PEDRO JUAN GUTIÉRREZ PHOTO: RÓMULO SANS
My relationship with Mariachis and Rancheras has always unfolded in a tempestuous atmosphere and with a certain caustic flavour.
It was the summer of 1990; I was spending a few days in Mexico City and was enjoying a passionate and exceptionally carnal affair with a lady of much elegance and slender means. It was a Cantinflesque situation. The lady was a top TV executive but she meticulously counted every penny. At that time I was very like Cantinflas (the poor, skinny, half crazy Cantinflas of the early years, not the later fine, restrained, suited and tied gentlemen breeder of fighting bulls).
So we found the ideal place where we could have a lot of fun and spend very little: Friday night in Plaza Garibaldi. The trick was simple and I don’t suppose it was in any way original. We would sit in a café at a table next to someone moneyed and in love. For example an American guy with one of those dark Mexican women who come from Sinaloa and above. Very sexy.
It might seem incredible but there always was a mild-mannered, middle-aged American available with a dark beauty of the Maria Félix type. And a Mariachi would come and sing to them of love and loss. The American didn’t understand any of those desperate songs shouted at full volume but he dutifully paid for each song one by one as he should. And she, with impeccable acting skill and tears in her eyes requested another and another and yet another. The Mariachi charged at least five dollars a song… and there we were, moved as well but perfectly happy with just a few tequilas and some wine punch.
By the way, the singer always wore a placard round his neck that read ‘The mariachi doesn’t accept credit cards.’ Not that that has anything to do with anything but it’s a nice detail...
+ information pág. 186-189 The H Book 2007 08