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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Carnaval Queen Gala Leaves Bitter Taste

Belén Esteban as a low budget Madonna

Whilst it was probably a fact that, after all the controversy that led up to it, many went to the gala already predisposed to dislike it, I doubt even Rafael Amargo's (amargo means bitter) worst critics could have expected such an insulting, pathetic and ridiculous bungle.

Or, to put it in the words of one viewer, "Rafael Amargo should be led out at dawn and shot! It was so bad it was funny." Believe it too: I sat through last night's 3 hour, 40 minute spectacle, transfixed, thinking it could never get any worse - but it did.

That it kept getting worse and worse was it's only consistent feature.

News reports also called it a ridiculous spectacle and public opinion seems to be unanimous in this evaluation of the event, with even the mayor of Santa Cruz, Miguel Zerolo, who participated in a phone-in program on TV this morning said it was a "fracaso" (failure) and was more like an Operación Triunfo (Star Academy) gala than a Carnival Gala. One could say that he recognized the wisdom of saying that first, before he was publicly lynched over it. Just as Rafael Amargo himself must have concluded, having, reportedly, left the venue 45 minutes before the gala's end. The public booed and whistled and winning murga group, Los Diablos Locos (The Crazy Devils), even refused to participate and walked off the stage during the live event. This was one of the public's favorite parts of the show. 

Video: Los Diablos Locos walk off and the crowd goes wild.

Then the public booed the dance troupe, Los Cariocas, who followed them, because they did participate. Unfairly, I think, as I did notice that they (or someone) had decided to bring the most "buxom" girls on first - obviously in pointed defiance of Amargo's "castings" to weed out "the fat ones and the ones who can't dance."

Whilst I won't criticize anyone's individual performance (I've been on stage enough times myself), what was clear was that there were too many acts; they were not of the "international calibre" we were told to expect - neither Rosa, nor Gloria Gaynor, nor an "international artist" materialized - most of them had nothing whatsoever to do with Carnaval either and, the whole show was disjointed with pregnant pauses or murdered in cold blood by the wrong style of music, wrong tempo, etc., at all the wrong times.

No, I lied. I will criticize the performance of Belén Esteban, the show's all time low point. She didn't so much emulate Madona, as emulate a pole dancer in a sleazy club. She was embarrassing cavorting in a pink leotard and about as sexy as a wet fish.

They managed to have five presenters, sorry six if you add Bibiana Fernández (Bibí Andersen), along with the unannounced Xavi Deltell (who could have done it much better alone), yet, the candidates for the title of Carnaval Queen had to announce themselves, via videos. They say that the sound on those was so bad in the congress center that it left people none the wiser, well, it wasn't much better on TV either.

At the end of the show, the envelope with the winners was delayed for some time, Bibí practically had to calm an imminent riot and the announcement of the winner - Elizabet Garcia representing El Dia - was so overshadowed as to look like an afterthought.

Video: The end of the fiasco as Bibi calls for calm.

If anyone did catch this awful spectacle on international TV channels, all I can hope is that they switched over quickly enough so that the images will not have left a lasting impression. If you did see it, this was not representative of Tenerife's Carnaval.

Abucheos en la gala de la Reina de Tenerife

Bitterness continues over Carnaval Gala

Whenever Tenerife gets into a bit of a controversy, it certainly never does it by halves! And the plot continues to thicken over the disastrous Gala for the Selection of the Carnaval Queen that took place in Santa Cruz on Wednesday night. Now, it seems that the town hall are asking (maybe begging might be more accurate) Spanish Television to edit out the negative aspects before showing it at national level.

This, actually, seems to me to be a pointless exercise in futility, since those very aspects are the ones that have already been picked out and commented on by national programs and, there are a plethora of clips at YouTube and elsewhere online, already doing the rounds of the planet, as people discuss them using words like embarrassing, pathetic or stupid, or the more direct, "pure shit." That's not forgetting that there are some 100 members of the national and international press and media in the Tenerife capital currently for the carnival, who will have seen it first hand and are bound to have reported on it already.

It's also a good job there were 18 candidates, otherwise, if they do edit the program down to just the positive and relevant parts, there wouldn't be much left.

Meanwhile, Rafael Amargo, who directed the fiasco, seems to be the only person who is "satisfied with the work done" and is already defending himself - in a note signed by his representation - saying that he "scrupulously fulfilled the conditions of his contract with the fiesta organizers". He would say that. The town hall are talking about finding the legal means to not only deduct an "important" amount from his outstanding fees, but also considering suing the dancer for damages.

Elsewhere, the Popular Party candidate for mayor in Santa Cruz says that the whole Carnaval fiasco over the last few days was just a maneuver to draw attention away from the potential problems the current mayor, Miguel Zerolo, has with the law.

For others, the real problem, it has been said - adding yet more gross insult to serious injury - is that we simpletons in Tenerife didn't appreciate the gala's content as we just wouldn't know art when we see it. So, I'll leave you with a little piece of that "art", as performed by "artist" Belén Esteban - who, for overseas viewers who are unaware, has only one previous claim to fame: that she slept with a bullfighter. What do you think, did we miss something in this "outstanding performance? The original version I had of this performance - since deleted from the web - appeared to have been manipulated in that you could hear applause and laughter in the background. Watching live, all you heard was booing.

Belén Esteban crowned Queen of Booing

There are many articles online saying that the Carnaval in Tenerife in 2007 will always be remembered for controversy and, which "crown" Belén Esteban as the "Queen of Booing" at the hapless Gala for the Selection of the Carnaval Queen.

Poor girl, she says, "I feel bad, because they've never booed me before".

Well, there's always a first time for everything love! Being "crucified", seems to me, to invite it really, but ... It seems she's been pouting on TV about her ill fortune too. I'm so glad I've missed that, but Colin Davies in Galicia sums it up nicely:

"Needless to say, the goings-on down in Tenerife provided un-missable material for the endless TV gossip shows. The one I was unlucky enough to zap into offered us the inane musings of one of the performers who’d been received badly. Having seen the act in question, it was clear her ego was in inverse proportion to her talents so I was rather nonplussed by her celebrity status. Plus, she was rather ugly and clearly very reconstructed from her [blond] hair down. I later learned she was the ex-girlfriend of a bullfighter. And possessed of a big mouth. In Spain, this explains everything."
Oh and in the edited version of the Gala televised very late on Saturday night by TVE1, probably against the wishes of the Santa Cruz town hall who wanted the damaging parts cut, Esteban's crucifying performance was shown again.

Her performance also made a list of Los 7 momentos más ridículos de Belén Esteban (The 7 Most Ridiculous Moments of Belén Esteban), where at number 5, it says, "Nobody will forget the boos and insults that Esteban suffered at the carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 2007, when he imitated Madonna on stage. The dancer Rafael Amargo was in charge of making the number and was severely criticized for it."

Video: Belen Esteban al estilo Madonna en carnaval buuu

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