My skin is really white and I have never been eager to sunburn. Moreover the sun is so intense in Andalusia that burning yourself is quite easy if you do not use a protective cream. When I
trained and was bullfighting I was ever under the merciless sun with forty degrees and more, so that I now largely prefer shadow. In the summer it happens that people, seeing me so white, ask me:
Do you never walk out in the sunshine? My facetious answer is: Sometimes I get moon-tan by night...which in a sense is true.
Somebody has asked me why I fought nude in the moonlight. Most “aficionados” of bullfighting know why, because they are sensitive people and perfectly know this kind of feelings.
In the last century’s second decade young Juan Belmonte (who was later to become the father of present bullfighting) had to swim across the Guadalquivir river to be able to bullfight against
cows. He had to do so by night as to avoid to be seen by the guardians of the cattle and naturally he used to take advantage of the moonlight.
Those times are gone. At that time few might enter the bull breeding fields and the boys of the lower class had to learn and train furtively.
Later Juan became one of the most emblematical matadors in history and lavished his art and incomparable personality in the bullrings around the world.
In several occasions, when meeting friends and admirers (people like Valle Inclán, Zuloaga, Perez de Ayala, Romero de Torres and Gerardo Diego among many others), he told how he stripped and swam
across the river to be able to bullfight protected by the shadow together with other mates in the nights of full moon.
The nearly oniric image of a youth with his naked and wet body facing a wild animal reminds the opalescent light of the smooth marble of Michelangelo’s statues.
The white skin and the black bull blend as if they were ying and yang of contrasting elements.
Sometimes I think I am a bit “loupgarou” and that the moon’s soft light somehow hypnotizes me. Yet is it not true that everyone feels more romantic when looking at the moon?
The last time I fought I had decided to do that completely naked...in an ancient and ancestral way...far from crowds and arenas... with no burden of responsibilities...with no din nor glittering clothes...only my skin.
That one was the last time I would perform what I loved most. I had already decided it and I would leave like that boy who had started in the most intimate way, in the twenties, with the moon as witness. I would the death of a part of myself to be so natural as a birth.
There are three occasions in a person’s lifetime where nakedness cannot be set aside:
when we are born, when we make love and when we face ourselves...bullfighting is all of that...bullfighting is facing ourselves, is making love and being born again.
I took off everything and in a moment I was the only one in the vastness of a summer night... I was my heart-beat... I was dread and bravery laid bare.
Thus there was no obstacle between the animal and me. I remember how he blew...I remember his breath and the warmth of his skin every time he brushed against me while passing...I remember the of
his gallop under the soles of my feet and the fringes of his tail winding vibration around my waist... I remember the burning caress of his horns grazing my body while I felt the impulse of his
“bravura” led by a stinging and irrepressible instinct.
The sensation of bullfighting had never been so pure and vital.
I surrendered to my own nature and blended with the charge of the animal, with the earth under my feet and the warm breeze of the night, perceiving the moonlight as a kiss of a protecting mother to whom I whispered my feelings, even if she already knew them. Perhaps it was I who needed to confess them to her in that way, in order to recognize and accept myself in the deepness and to give up fighting against superfluous elements.I needed to get rid of any protecting cloak behind which I could hide and to succeed in seeing myself simply and clearly as the moon saw me at the moment.
My nakedness was not only physical but also psychical. I have never felt so naked out and inside, yet sure and serene at the same time...like Michelangelo’s David in his marmoreal arrogance. I learned that nakedness is not a symbol of defenceless fragility, but rather one of confidence.
Even in the heart of Christendom reigns nakedness... harmonious and undeniably beautiful in its simplicity, like a tangible mirror of our soul.