September 6, 2016


Talking to friends here about the history of Tossa, I was told of a particular character by the name of Xoxa (pronounced Shosha, the x can be used as an sh or ch in various ways). Xoxa was a young man during the years when Tossa was marked by the making of the movie Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, featuring Ava Gardner and James Mason. It was the first Hollywood movie shot in Spain during the Franco era. Frank Sinatra hung around the set when he was swooning for Ava. For years afterwards, Tossa changed from a fishing village into a tourist destination, one that benefitted from the panache that resulted from the making of that movie.

Xoxa, as I understand the story, was a local fisherman who stepped into the character afforded by the new paradigm in the transformed village. He was a dandy, dressing specifically as such, sporting a pencil thin mustache, hair slicked back, sashaying with style. A dancer. The life of the party. He stood out.

When we first arrived in Tossa, there lived another such character from a subsequent generation. His name was Fararón (Pharaoh, in english), and he was a headline flamenco dancer at a local club. A small man with a harmlessly huge ego. He dressed as his character dictated, pressed open collar white shirt, the top buttons undone, hair combed back, shining with oil, quick to clap his hands in the gypsy manner with a raconteur smile cocked and ready to go. This character type seems to be evergreen.

Since we live in a house that used to be a cherished local bar called Marcelino back in the 50's and 60's, I was excited to learn that someone in town had an archive of photos of the bar at that time. So far, I am only able to show you one photo that the gentleman had ready in his cell phone. I snapped my pic from his phone from mine, the one illustrating this blogpost. Showing the picture to local friends, I was able to get the names of the people in the photograph, rescuing identities at the edge of historical oblivion. Lo and behold, one of them happened to be Xoxa!

It's hard to tell from the photograph, but Xoxa seems to be sporting a sailor's cap. His apron unstrung from his neck, he was cooking for his pals. Later in his years, victim of the good life of food and drink, he is outgrowing his once tailored shirt. Buttons straining. An early iteration of the man-purse hanging from his shoulder. Short pants and Mallorca sandals.

They were showcasing a painting in tribute to Xoxa, the painter was Joan Carbonell. The painting celebrates Xoxa as the authentic bohemian in what looks like an image also of a pirate. The painting doesn't look out of place in the fashion of today's contemporary art. Splashing paint. Impulsive notation. Insouciant representation. Looking at the photo, I think of the generations of artists who had lived in this village over the decades, good and bad. The best would be André Masson and George Bataille, maybe Chagall. There were very good artists nearly lost to history such as Georges Kars. Nearly lost to history, kind of like Xoxa. There are others, a multitude further down the scale. Perhaps Carbonell is one of them?

Posted by Dennis at September 6, 2016 7:37 PM

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