Julio Barreiro Rivas is a Spanish sculptor, composer, writer, and historian living in Venezuela. The octogenarian was born in the Galician province of Pontevedra and since then has led a pretty interesting life: heading up a family band called Los Hijos de la Casa Grande, masterminding an alleged orgy island for senior Venezuelan military officers, and claiming to have met Hitler. In fact, Julio has an interesting theory about Hitler: He says that history’s most despised man never killed himself at all and actually died and is buried in a cemetery in Galicia, northwest Spain.
“This finding wouldn’t change Europe’s history; it would just modify it,” he told me modestly during a 30-minute international call. “People in Berlin and Russia know that Hitler and Eva were very unlikely to commit suicide one day after their wedding. Their friend Franco needed to compensate them for their favors in times of war, so he kept Hitler’s gold in Spain.”
Admittedly, there are a vast amount of holes in Julio’s story. Who are these “people in Berlin and Russia” who “know” for certain that Adolf and his lover would not have spent their honeymoon killing themselves? And how does he know that the former fascist dictator of Spain owed Hitler a favor? Still, Julio is committed to his tale and tells it with a burning intensity. When you speak to him, you get the feeling that this isn’t a prank, a joke, an attempt at being snide, or even some kind of artistic allegory. When I spoke with him, he genuinely seemed to believe what he was saying.
"Even more nonsensical is the story about their bodies being burned with gasoline in the chancellery garden," Julio continued. "Only those who would be truly interested in eradicating the memory of Hitler would believe it. That is, the Germans, who might believe it out of shame, and the Russians and the Americans, because they weren’t able to catch him.” Or just people who don’t really care about where exactly history’s most evil man is rotting. But Julio went on.
Image of the three-engine plane on which the Führer allegedly travelled to Galicia
“Hitler set off early in the morning of April 29th, 1945, aboard a three-engine airplane. He landed in a small village called Córneas, hidden amid the mountains of Lugo, where an escort from the Guardia Civil [the Spanish military police] and some donkeys carrying saddlebags full of gold bars and other relics were waiting for him. He headed for Samos, through the towns of Cebreiro, el Hospital, and Triacastela, where he would eventually meet a committee from Samos’s convent. I don’t think anyone can refute my theory, since I saw Hitler, alive and kicking, in the convent.”
Assaad Awad makes fashion that scares the living shit out of people. This Lebanese-born, Madrid-based designer spent 14 years in advertising before quitting to open up his own workshop, and today he specializes in outfits and accessories that wouldn’t be out of place in a Flash Gordon villain’s filthy rape basement.
Assaad has made reflective gold and silver armor for a Thierry Mugler Paris Fashion Week show, a dress made out of wood for Lady Gaga, and ancient Egyptian-esque crowns for Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl halftime performance. He also crafts bondage gear for a less famous and much odder private clientele, which is mostly what I wanted to talk to him about when I met him (at his suggestion) in the cellar of a Madrid fetish shop.
VICE: How does someone raised in a very conservative country like Lebanon become a luxury fetish designer? Assaad Awad: It doesn’t matter where you’re born—if the fetish is inside you it will come out at some point in your life. You simply cannot hide it. It will come out sooner or later. And sooner is better, because we only live once.
What’s sex like in Lebanon? There’s a lot of respect. It’s like cooking in a microwave versus three hours on a low flame—the way it tastes is better, you get to where you want to be, and everything explodes.
I’m not sure I get what you mean. In Europe, you go out for a drink, you get tipsy, flirt with someone, take them home, have sex, and don’t even ask for his or her name. That is microwave sex. On the other hand, because of the taboos in the Arab world, fetish sex [in Lebanon] has a totally different approach. It is cooked on coal, the old-fashioned way. As we all know, the longer you cook on a low flame, the more the taste is enhanced. This is the way it’s done where I come from. You heat up your partner, meet them more than once, and then invite him or her to taste your recipe. That’s what I call a hot dish.
At the turn of the 20th century, Enriqueta Martí—a woman from the witchcraft-steeped countryside of Cataluña—came to Barcelona. Like many of the poor rural immigrants flooding into Barcelona at the time, she found that the Catalan capital was less “Pearl of the Mediterranean” and more “City of Death.” This didn’t bother her, though, because it was in Barcelona that she became her country’s answer to Jack the Ripper, luring children back to her house, killing them, and then drinking their blood.
Fast forward a century and Marc Pastor, a CSI detective based in Barcelona, finds himself working on a case involving another female serial killer. In his spare time, he writes Barcelona Shadows, a retelling of Martí’s diabolical career redolent of Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and David Peace. Already a bestseller in Spain, the book has just been published in English. I caught up with Marc for a trip back to the dark alleys of the Barcelona slums.
VICE: Hi, Marc. When exactly is your book set? Marc Pastor: It’s in 1912. Barcelona is leaving its rural past behind and becoming a modern city. There is the biggest casino in Europe, which was an amazing amusement park with a rollercoaster. There’s a lot of poverty. People are living in the streets and there’s a lot of sickness. This is where Enriqueta appears, where she rises up. A woman. She is a female killer, which is very unusual because 99 percent of serial killers are men. It’s a dark and creepy city with a dark and creepy serial killer.
And Enriqueta came onto this scene from the countryside, to work as a servant in a house? Actually, as a whore.
I was about to say: she swiftly becomes a prostitute. How quickly does she start to kill people, and can you tell me about her methods?
We don’t know exactly how many people or children she killed. That’s part of the myth. Jack the Ripper had five victims, but you don’t know how many victims Enriqueta had. She was arrested in 1912, but she went to Mallorca in 1901 for three months and had to come back because people wanted to kill her. So you can imagine she was murdering people and children for 12 years, at least. I met a lot of people after publishing the book who told me, “My grandma was a victim of Enriqueta,” or, “My grandmother-in-law was one of the people Enriqueta tried to kidnap.” They showed me pictures. She tried to kidnap a lot of people. One woman told me her grandmother-in-law was approached by a woman who tried to give her candy and told her to come with her.
Els Masturbadors Mongòlics Brought Punk to Fascist Spain
Barcelona’s Masturbadors Mongòlics are Spanish punk’s lost boys. The band were together for just a year, right around the time that democracy was making its first baby steps on the Iberian Peninsula after the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. The foursome liked alcohol, they liked amphetamines and they liked getting in fights; they only lasted a year and you can count their gigs on one hand, but the legacy of their antics still reverberates today.
When Franco died in 1975, Spain was sent into a state of commotion. After four decades of the dictator’s iron rod making its way into every sphere of Spanish life, it was hardly surprising that, with freedom came huge social, political, and cultural upheavals. Many people had been slightly brainwashed by his regime and the dictatorship still had a bit of bite—five political dissidents were executed in 1975, two ETA militants and three from the antifascist group FRAP—but everyone knew it was on its last legs.
This allowed for the emergence of a nascent counterculture: a belated, disoriented version of what had happened in England and America during the previous decade—prog-rock, hippies, Mao’s “little red book”, Robert Crumb, weed and, if you were lucky, LSD. It probably felt progressive to the Spanish, but it showed Spain for exactly what it was during the mid-70s: a country at least a decade behind the rest of Western Europe.
Faced with the harshest cuts to public services in the history of Spanish democracy, workers in Andalusia are going through an undeniably shitty time. Unemployment in the southern autonomous region is around 36 percent—much higher than the national average of about 26—and the labor reforms that allowed corporations to fire huge swaths of the workforce without severance pay only made things worse. The victims of this climate of economic gloom have struck back by occupying abandoned homes, as thecorralashave done, or staging mass protests and strikes a la the Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores (Andalucian Workers Union).
Inspired by the communitarian village of Marinaleda, whose revolutionary bearded mayor is also the president of the SAT—and its sister organization the Sindicato Obreros de Campo(Farm Workers Union)—have been expanding their operations across the region over the last couple years. This includes highly publicized “raids” on supermarkets in places like Seville, Malaga, and Cordoba.
Our Emmy-nominated HBO show recently wrapped up its first season, and complaint numero uno that we got throughout its run was: “I reaaaalllyyy want to watch your show, but I don’t have HBO.” Well, your cries have been heard. Yesterday we released the first episode on VICE.com, and today, right here on the page you’re on right now, we’re airing the fourth episode. Next Monday and Tuesday we’ll release episodes nine and ten, respectively.
In epsiode four of VICE, Thomas Morton investigates China’s dating customs, where old-fashioned courtship has been replaced by lucrative matchmaking businesses, and Shane Smith travels to Greece and Spain to see how the youth are responding to Europe’s crippling financial crisis.
The world’s economy is still fucked. And ever since the West went into an economic meltdown in 2008, anticonsumerist sentiment has been steadily on the rise—presumably because you kinda have to eschew materialism when you’ve got the spending power of a Dickensian chimney sweep. But while proletariats in the US have largely settled for memories of Zuccotti Park and organizing “buy-nothing days,” the Catalan civil disobedience movement Yomango has been getting out there, actively raging against consumerism since 2002. How? Through a campaign of ideological shoplifting.
Spawned in Barcelona by your usual black-bloc types and those hash-smoking crusties you see hanging around Thompkins Square with dogs on ropes, Yomango is Spanish slang for “I steal,” as well as a pun on local clothing company, MANGO. Falling somewhere between social experiment and sixth-form political statement, the movement’s members claim that what they’re doing is raging against the machine.
Yomango practitioners pillage multinational franchises for five-finger discounts and turn their stolen winnings into feasts. These feasts are kind of like countercultural Christmas dinners, with those taking part sharing shoplifting tactics (which, handily, are also now available as instructional YouTube videos), exchanging loot, and discussing ways of turning throwaway junk into DIY thieving accessories. If you’re not using an alarm-detector-resistant handbag, or a jacket with “magic” pockets that disappears swiped goods, you’re not shoplifting like these pros.
Molly Crabapple, who you may remember from her previous posts, The World of a Professional Naked Girl, and Rubber Bullets in the Streets of Madrid is now officially doing a monthly column for us that will feature original writing and illustrations on a variety of subjects. Here’s her first one. Hopefully it will help ease the pain of your first day back to work (or whatever it is you’re doing).
"You never think this will happen to you. But life changes fast."
Anna, 36, is a cleaner who has been unemployed since Spain followed Greece into the vortex of the Eurozone crisis. Once homeless, she now lives at Corrala Utopia, one of Seville’s many squatted buildings. When we spoke, she was keeping watch over half a dozen children who also live at the squat, whilst their parents were out protesting in front of a local bank, IbjerCaja, which owns the building. The squatters wanted to pay for utilities, but the bank wouldn’t let them.
Corrala itself is an ugly, boxy apartment block, in the architectural style of all building booms, humanized by a blanket of graffiti. “Stop Evictions. No Light, No Water, No Fear.” Thirty families live there. When we walked up their pitch dark stairways, It felt like climbing seven flights of unlit stairs to my own New York apartment, which a week before had had its power knocked out by Hurricane Sandy. Anna’s apartment was filled with toys, a flat-screen TV, sofas. The relics of a middle class life.
The squatters I’d known in the US had been stoned crustpunks or dedicated activists, but most of them squatted by choice. In crisis-crushed Seville, squatting was necessity. Blue collar moms in neat lace collars acted like the most hardcore radicals. Because they have no money, they could do nothing else.
The city of Seville is so broke that it hasn’t paid its civil servants for six months. Nonetheless, it spent ten thousand euros digging up the sidewalk and cutting Corrala’s water main to try and force the squatters out. Now, Anna’s kids have to make five trips a day to haul water jugs up those dark stairwells.
"Life is hard here." said Anna. "You see 10-year old kids gathering water from the fountain, like it was the 19th century. I’m ashamed for my country."
What with the overthrowing of the Spanish government not really happening and skulls getting cracked left, right, and center, the 25-S protests in Madrid last week turned out to be a bit of a bummer. However, there was one image that shone like a ray of karmic light through all the police brutality and debris of smashed dreams. Or actually a bunch of images, most of which were taken by pervy Spanish photographers, who may or may not have been suffering from pee-filled kettle boners.
But whatever, let’s not ruin the moment:
Through her profile on Modelmayhem, I tracked down Jill Love: model, actress, independent filmmaker, and the best publicist Spain’s anti-capitalist indignados movement could ever hope for.
VICE: Hi Jill. You’re a Catalan-born American filmmaker who lives in Santa Fe. Is that right? Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself? Jill Love: I’m Catalan, I was born in Tarragona. At the age of 18, I moved to Madrid to start a new life. At the age of 26, I moved to the United States to start another new life. I’m still moving and I’m still having new adventures every day.
Clearly. Did you expect the photographers to go so wild? Not at all. I was on my knees in front of the police, praying to Isis. My eyes were closed. When I opened them I was surrounded by many photographers. It all got a little out of control. I left once it got too crazy.
Have you been getting much attention since the protest? Yes, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed with the situation, to be honest.
What’s the reaction been like from the rest of the 25-S protesters? Loads of people understood that my act was one of LOVE and PEACE. Others think it’s an easy way to get attention.