Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chicanonautica: Confessions of a Bullfight Fan

As a clumsy, near-sighted, dyslexic guy I was never much into sports, but I always liked bullfighting. It might have something to do with ethnic pride. It could also be a literary link, with that other guy named Ernest. Or it could just be something about blood glistening in the sun.

I must admit, I get a thrill at the look of shock on a Joe Typical Sports Fan’s face when I tell him that, no, I don’t follow football, basketball, or baseball, but I do enjoy bullfighting. Ever see a guy with hamburger residue rotting between his teeth turn into an animal rights activist?

It’s also fun the way bullfighting makes liberals intolerant of other cultures, and conservatives speak of abolishing traditions. Ah, sweet iconoclasm!

I’m lucky to live in an age when I can watch bullfights almost every day, from the comfort of my own home, even when Spain no longer puts them on television.

Yes, technology has done it again. A Web connection is all you need for more bullfighting news and videos than you can keep up with. Just get on on their Toros tab under Cultura. Bullfighting videos can be found at,, and TorosTVPeru on livestream.

YouTube is also a good source, but you should use Spanish in your searches. Online, there is a language barrier: Most of the stuff in English is from the “antis.”

And don’t think this is all machismo. Some of my favorite bullfighters are women. Want female heroes? Look up Milagros Sánchez, Hilda Tenorio, Conchi Ríos, Mari Paz Vega, and Noelia Mota.

The problem is, it’s so hard to have a reasonable discussion about this subject. Hysterical reactions kick in. Suddenly, there are all these screaming pseudo-naked vegetarians covered in fake blood running around.

But bullfighting is art, and culture, and tradition that will leave us poorer if we don’t take it into the future.

It’s also all about spirituality, though in this land where such things are divorced from blood, guts, tits, and ass, people just don’t see.

One American writer who did see was Richard Wright in Pagan Spain: And the matador in his bright suit of lights was a kind of lay priest offering up the mass for thirty thousand guilty penitents.

And later: It is the conquering of fear, the making of religion of the conquering of fear.

Like the modern tradition of the horror film, only the blood and death are real.

Seeing a bullfight makes me feel up to any task I may have to do during the day. A great one makes me feel that anything is possible. It’s called inspiration.

I’ve written and sold two science fiction stories about bullfighting: “Tauromaquia” (Science Fiction Age, July 1995) and “Frank’s Tricer Run” (Science Fiction Age, May 1997). Both published thanks to editor Scott Edelman.

I have a mad vision of a science fiction novel about bullfighting, in which a female matador goes on a spiritual quest through corporatized religion, genetic engineering, and space travel. The publishing world as it exists now would never touch such a thing, but change is in the air.

And the vision, like the bullfight, is compelling.

Ernest Hogan is working to get his novels released as ebooks, and waiting for la Fiesta de San Fermin.


essays said...

Bullfighting is a great tradition! but sorry for the bulls :*(

msedano said...

and a tip o the montera also to barnaby conrad, my favorite bullfighting writer. "where other bullfighters worked in inches, manolete worked in centimeters...'aha!' manolete called. and the bull charged..." hijole, that miura bull must've been a university of texas fan.

Manuel Ramos said...

I remember an afternoon in the sun, sitting in the "partial" shade seats of the Seville bull ring, sweating with heat and emotion, crammed elbow to ass with cigar smoking, beer drinking fans, watching the death dance between matador and bull. No other reality quite like it. I also tip my hat to the writers who can do justice to the spectacle.

richard@editorialmazatlan said...

For those interested in tauromachia, Editorial Mazatlan (— the only English-language book publishing house in Mexico — is preparing "Brave Blood: words for an experience" for press, with a tentative release date in November or December.

The author, Richard Finks, more than "does justice to the spectacle", approaching the event from the spectator's point of view in explicating the terms used for the ring, the bull, the man... the experience.

Richard Grabman
Gestor de proyectos

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ernest. I saw a bullfight in Madrid. I wish we had them here. And, not really sorry for the bulls, they serve their purpose. And also, I love burgers.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think the animals in the slaughterhouses suffer a lot more than the bulls in the fights. And at least in the fights, they are treated with respect, and honored.
Alas, today we are all worried about Conchi Rios!
I am sure in the age of ebooks, your novel will be easy to publish.

Anabelle112 said...

Nice read Ernest. Although I doubt the bulls have any comprehension of the honor paid to them, they certainly enjoy chasing people around. They also live a an idyllic life up to the day they go into the ring. The thousands of cattle slaughtered daily get none of that consideration.

Modern life has become so sterile that the realities of death have become abstract to most people in the US. People have come to believe that the death they see on TV is realistic. To see the struggle that occurs at the end portrayed so graphically the way it happens in a bull fight is incredibly shocking to most Americans. Possibly if they had a better grasp of life and death Americans wouldn't be so complacent about letting their children be sent off to desert hell holes to bleed out in the sand.

What I find genuinely shocking is the level of cruel comments directed towards Noelia Mota after her terrible wreck last year. What kind of fruitcake believes that the life of an animal that in any other setting would be destined to a future as hot dogs and bologna is of higher value than that beautiful young woman and her fabulous horse?!

Furthermore these people have no concept of what these animals are all about. They act like they would be just like Besse the Borden cow if it weren't for the antagonism from the bullfighters. Fighting bull calves will charge when still on milk!

But I have taken the long way around my initial reason for commenting. Does anyone know how Noelia Mota is doing now? Has she recovered fully and back to work?

Thanks, Gringa fan


Noelia Mota seems to be doing fine. There are two sites where you can follow her progress: and
The difference between what is said online about bullfighters in English and Spanish is quite shocking.