Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spanish humor during feria, fiesta and Carnivál transcends visual boundaries

Page 21 of don Dino´s Carnival 2011 catalogue (image expansion intended)
Nuns in drag and sexy nuns dressed in Spanish Carnivál costumes emerge as my first foray into fashion art. Perhaps my last.

But I couldn´t help it. It´s bigger than me.

The last time I saw nuns in drag was at the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco many moons ago but in a world that continues bubbling with creativity.

Every year for a long weekend, two blocks of Folsom are roped off, reserved for a raucous, fun and entertaining gay-lesbian fiesta. (Hyperlinked is a 3 minute video fairly representing the total weirdness and wonder of the fair.)

I spent a day there, taking pictures, enjoying events. Even participated in one sponsored by The Holy Mothers of Intervention (I made up the name since I cannot remember what these lads in drag called themselves, but it had that kind of rhythm to it.)

The not so Holy Mothers in drag for 50 cents U.S. offered a chance to toss huge dildos through the hugely open mouth of a much hated homophobic U.S. Senator.

So, when I picked up a costumes catalogue for Carnivál 2011 in Cómpeta,  I paged through it and stopped dead at 21.

Upper left, a guy dressed as a nun showing off his meaty leg next to a mini-skirted Sister and on it goes.

Cheap costumes for frolicking good times called Carnivál or for practicing religion without a license.

Full stop.

Why am I writing about this?

Art as a state of mind is also how we see ourselves or can visualize ourselves. Laughing at ourselves, at life, even as grim as it can be and is, lifts the soul. Art lifts the soul, makes us think. And sometimes, laugh.

Scores of Spanish men during Carnivál love to get on stage in drag and do the strangest, most creative, magical musical madness I´ve ever seen. 

They rehearse all year, since Carnivál theatre productions are well attended and shown widely on TV.

Call it part of my cultural shock, even though I lived and worked in Madrid as print journalist under Franco.

Sexy mini-skirted nuns, nuns in a Catholic country.

This I did not expect. But then the more you live in a host country and culture, the more you realize prototypes, generalizations usually do not apply.

But here, as long as it´s not politics, your Freudian super-ego can come climbing out of whatever closet you create and at reasonable prices.

Spainish are infamous: They´ll party at a wink of an eye, almost.

Fiesta is a state of mind and part of Spanish DNA.

Art is a state of mind. Men dressed as nuns are nothing more than a human art installation, performance art.

But art, nonetheless.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Art travel to Andalusia, to our mountains for a week-long mosaics or sculpture workshop or walking holiday. See: and

Islamic art and design at Granada´s Alhambra, photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

Contact me at or by calling (34) 951 067 703, or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.

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