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Home Culture The memoirs of Simón Casas, a successful hustler, writer and passionate and controversial bullfighter | The bull, by the horns | Culture

The memoirs of Simón Casas, a successful hustler, writer and passionate and controversial bullfighter | The bull, by the horns | Culture

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He has not lost face cowboy, has been a hustler and now, rightly, he feels like a winner. He was born in the French city of Nimes into a modest family of Sephardic Jews, to a Polish father and Turkish mother. The first Hispanic he met was dressed in lights, and he wanted to be a bullfighter to be Spanish like his people, originally from Toledo. And he got it: he cut off an ear in Las Ventas as a bullfighter, he took the alternative in his hometown, but he retired that same night. He exchanged gold for jeans and became a bullfighting businessman, first from Nimes, and later, he determined to conquer Spain.

Today he is the businessman of Las Ventas. He has managed to get out on the shoulders of his own destiny. And in a few days he will receive Spanish nationality, the DNI on which his name will appear, Simón Domb Cases, —Simón Casas in the posters— born on September 2, 1947, bullfighter and writer, protagonist of a film life that has dealt to summarize his recently published seventh book in a memoir, Passes and Passes, (Demipage publishing house). But this text, more than a handful of biographical memories, is a task of seasoning or, perhaps, a scramble full of vital reflections of a powerful and contradictory, controversial and criticized bullfighter, who claims to be an artist and intellectual rather than a businessman, tired, recognizes , of being a public figure and eager to retire to anonymity and get lost at sea aboard the ship that is anchored in Mahón.

“I always considered myself Spanish,” says Simón Casas, “bullfighting has been my identity link, and now I think the time has come to apply for my Spanish passport, because I have conquered my lost family identity. Now that I am a businessman in Madrid, I feel that I have earned the stripes of Spanishness one hundred percent, and when I receive the DNI I will have finished building my destiny.”

“I always considered myself Spanish, and in a few days I will receive the DNI that will mark the culmination of my destiny”

He assures that his life has been “very hard”, that his childhood was spent in very unfavorable social and economic circumstances, that he barely entered school and was forced to find a life. “My path has been that of a self-taught person,” he adds, “and not only in the cultural aspect, but in the conception of my character, my aspirations, my life…”

Casas says that he arrived in Madrid when he was less than 20 years old, without a job or money, that he slept on the street, that he worked as a street painter of El Greco’s Virgin Mary on church esplanades and as a guide to the Prado Museum for French families. “I learned the history of four famous paintings, I contacted tourists from my country, I told them that I was a student of Fine Arts and thus, between the drawings on the floor and my weapons as an artistic seducer, I earned a few pesetas.”

He managed to debut as a bullfighter with horses in Las Ventas, received the title of matador in Nimes on March 16, 1975, and five years later he won the contest to be a businessman in that city; then the Spanish conquest, successful businessman, power of attorney, influential bullfighter, respected and feared… But almost nothing of all that past counts in the book of his supposed memoirs.

“It is true that my editor and I had an exchange of views on this matter,” he explains. “He asked me for some memoirs, and I offered him a memory game, not a chronological biography, but some reflections on bullfighting and life.”

“I have been a rogue by necessity; “Now I am an intellectual adventurer, an artist.”

Ask. Define yourself, at least. Who is Simón Casas? A rogue, a living person, a smart guy, a lucky bullfighter…?

Answer. I have been a rogue and an adventurer out of necessity, not desire. I couldn’t define myself, but I know what I have become. I am passionate about understanding the meaning of my life, I am interested in politics, philosophy, literature; I have a constant appetite for knowledge. I have read a lot to make up for my lack of school training. I am an intellectual adventurer, an artist…

P. And he wanted to be a bullfighter to reach the peak of the art…

R. Yes, but also by identity; If I had not been born in Nîmes, he would be the same character, but I would have possibly dedicated myself to literature.

P. Because as a bullfighter you left a lot to be desired…

R. Back then, there were no bullfighting schools, and the French did not allow us to fight without horses in Spain. In fact, I debuted with picadors in Madrid without any preparation. But I tell you one thing: if I had had the opportunity for technical training, I would have been a good bullfighter. I have that hope left.

But it was not like that. He then opted for the world of bullfighting, and in 1980, after a controversy with the communist City Council of Nimes, (he himself was a voter of that political option), he managed to get the square put out to tender and since then, and they have After 44 years, he is the manager of the Nimeño arena.

His was the first alternative that was granted in his hometown, and he proudly says that he has managed to get figures like El Juli, Jesulín or Roca Rey to also become bullfighters in that French land.

Afternoon of bullfighting in the French square in Nimes at the end of the 1980s.Antonio Gabriel

Later, the socialist politician Enrique Múgica helped him make his way in Spain, and introduced him to the president of the Provincial Council of Valencia, who granted him direct management of the square in 1985. And there he began a career that has taken him to Las Ventas after passing through Málaga, El Puerto de Santa María, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Zaragoza, Castellón and Albacete, among others.

P. But are you or are you not a businessman from Madrid, because the only one who appears as such is Rafael García Garrido?

R. Of course. We formed a joint venture between Simón Casas Production and Nautalia, and both companies won the contest. My partner has more and better business qualities than me, and I am very grateful for his important work. And since I have no need to brag, it doesn’t matter to me whether I’m seen or not. Rafael is responsible for the business side and I for the creative side, and we both do our best to manage the Madrid plaza as best as possible. Rafael and I are very different, but complementary.

P. And you are supposed to have been and are a happy man.

R. Mine has been and is, rather, a passionate life. Happy? I’m left with my life, which has had a lot of content. I hope to find happiness when I abandon the commercial and media problems that surround me and retire to accumulate knowledge in absolute anonymity.

P. You announce in your memoir that you will retire soon.

R. Yes, the penultimate chapter is titled ‘Packing your bags’, and I say that soon I will leave this great universe of bullfighting, all my misunderstandings and all this fuss, and I will walk around Madrid without needing to know who I am.

“Do I have a bad image? You will say that; It is the black legend that my competition has invented, because I am an absolutely honest professional”

P. Then, you won’t enter the next contest in Nimes or Las Ventas?

R. Well… yes I will apply for the renewal in Nimes, but I want to retire from the business and continue as an artistic advisor, and that is how I am reorganizing it. Regarding Madrid, I don’t answer; It will depend on what happens in the coming months.

P. You have achieved your professional goals, as a successful businessman, powerful and influential bullfighter, but you have not managed to have a good personal and professional image…

(This is the only moment of the interview in which Casas expresses deep discomfort; the comment bothered him, and he does not hide it).

R. You will say that. I go out on the street and they ask me for photos and autographs and they thank me for what I contribute to bullfighting. I mean, I don’t know what he’s talking about. At worst, I have a bad image among a few fans, fundamentalists, to whom everything seems bad.

P. Well, there is the impression that you are an unreliable man who has not paid the bullfighters he has hired in a timely manner, for example…

R. And do you believe it? That is a black legend that my competition has invented to try to prevent me from conquering the market. All the bullfighters, managers and ranchers are dedicated to me. Proof of what I tell you is that I can announce the Nimes Fair without negotiating with the bullfighters. Do you think you could do it if you didn’t have the trust of professionals?

P. Are you, then, an honest professional…

R. Absolutely. And I am not by vocation, but by my condition as an artist. I am motivated by hopes and dreams. There are people in the world of bullfighting who only think about the money, the damn money, but not me. And I tell you more: those who have tried to attribute to me that bad image that you speak of have aspired to be businessmen from Madrid and they are not and never will be, because they are mediocre.

Nor does he mention in the book that he has hired 53 bullfighters, and now he is very excited about Talavante, who calls him during the journalistic meeting and Casas encourages him to demonstrate his high artistic potential.

The businessman, former bullfighter, agent and writer, the artist Simón Casas is not sure if he will ever write his real memoirs. It will be the story of the life of the cowboy with a face dotted with scars, a rogue hustler, adventurer and winner, with a good self-concept that not everyone shares, although it drives him crazy.

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