The two-faced Queen

Illustration by Jennie Ball
Ilustration by Jennie Ball
When you stroll into Pollo Rico at c/Sant Pau 31 for that medio pollo, you catch the back end of La Chicholina selling her calendar to some john that’s got his pants scrunched into the bulging protuberance of his hindquarters. She’s been prostituting herself for about 26 years in Raval (and before that, she was working València for 16 years), but has recently started to live off La Fama that media coverage such as Francesc Betriu’s documentary have helped to create. She resembles a Toulouse-Lautrec aristocrat of widedinner- roll proportions and her outfit makes it seem as if she attends Carnival every day: plastic crown, eyes painted with bat wings inside an ivory face, and clownish cabaret lips. Her bored-looking husband sipping his beer in the corner balances out the equation. The john, however, doesn’t notice, letting out a mirthful guffaw of semi-lecherous intent. By the time your chicken comes around, she’s already eyed you and digested your semi-groomed appearance. Not surprisingly, after she sells the calendar to Mr. Bulbous Posterior, she comes over to you.

You want a calendar, cariño? In the premier photo, her breasts are almost falling out of her red cocktail dress as precariously balanced pineapples. The title reads Mónica, la Reina del Raval, Feliz Año 2014. The contrast between the hooker in the photo and the actual woman makes you envision a compassionate shark. You’ve never seen so much life in a puta’s eyes. So you invite her to join you á la offered beer. In the monologue that follows, you totally forget about the calendar.

She becomes philosophical, saying she is the Romantic and the Modern (mutually exclusive terms, she points out, and defined by her standards). As such, she mutates every day. When she finds herself alone with her husband, José, she understands that she must be La Dona Juana, the epitome of the Romantic. He’s no easy catch. When she’s hustling to make a buck, well, that would be her Modern garb. Romantics don’t make money, apparently. Furthermore, she must calculate very carefully how long each fachada de personalidad must be worn to preserve her two distinct egos. In the end, she is the white rabbit summing the tick-tocks that limit fully maximized moments, and she has been training since the age of 18 when she first started her day job of the body-selling tango, giving pleasures in glances, touches, and honest remarks such as ¡qué manos más femeninas llevas! La Reina de Barcelona (if I may create another moniker) reminds you of a much-forgotten state of innocence: authentic dedication to whoever the fuck You (+1) are. No qualms, no artificial posing, just letting it all hang out. Wherever you are, she’s the Queen projecting a causeway from her retinas (four, in total) to yours, allowing some sisterlike talk with a famosita. And all the water surrounding that causeway? Well, those are the judgments that flood over from time to time, preventing anybody from passing without getting their knickers a bit wet.

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