|La Novia del Viejo by Ricardo Tames|
Mexico. Playa del Carmen.
5th Avenue. The Habana Cafe. One night.
Half laying on a red stained couch, I am smoking a hookah.
Slowly, really slowly, I am savoring every scented puff. The sweat smell of the apple smoke blown out of the pipe softly invades my delighted nostrils. I feel calm and alone despite the surrounding tourists’ mayhem.
It’s the power of the hookah.
Salsa rhythms from everywhere no longer reach my ears. It’s a moment of self-awareness. I think about nothing. I just feel each beat of my heart and enjoy every pulse of my dying life. Pure bliss.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man’s voice breaks off my trance. Fuck! It must be one of those guys who wants to sell me one of those horrible colorful bracelets. Worst, a mariachi.
But no, this time it’s not a street dealer. This time, it’s a young guy.
He says he’s a photographer.
He says he’s selling pictures.
He says he has a portfolio.
He asks me where do I come from.
Oh! What a coincidence! One of his pictures represents a roaster. He tells me that French tourists love this picture, that they buy it.
I tell him that I don’t and that I won’t.
I want to peruse the book. With my own eye. At my own pace. Like a hookah. My eyes melt. This mofo is talented.
One of the pictures called “La novia del Viejo” catches my eye. There is something of a Diane Arbus’ picture, the one representing a transvestite at a drag ball***. Same weirdness. Same humanity.
He says he also takes conceptual photographs.
Let’s see. Hum. Yes, he is gifted.
How much? 200 pesos. 3 pictures, 200 pesos*.
Shit! The price of my hookah. I really want them not only because I like his work but also because I find it inspiring to see this artist working hard to promote his art knowing that most of the time the people he will meet do not give a damn about his conceptual shots.
I must also say that I am angry. Mad. Because today it’s about money and network. Not about pure talent. Not about art and the love of it.
Ricardo gives me the three pictures I want. I tell him that I will leave an envelope containing 200 pesos at the desk of La Tortuga. He trusts me.
Ricardo Tames**. It’s his name.
*200 pesos = approx. 18$ / 15 euros
***Transvestite at a drag ball, N.Y.C, 1970 by Diane Arbus