She moves with conviction in the middle of the room. She shakes her hips and skirt as she only learns to be close to the Cádiz fire, in the heart of Andalusia. She waves her curly black hair with the personality of the sun and stares at the man. “The moon kisses your pure tears/ As a promise of good fortune/ “The girl of fire” people call you/ And they are leaving you to die of thirst”he sings to her, and her hands twist in the air like her own heart. He will take a few more steps, like someone going to war; she will stay still, like who comes from her. She will start an empire with each of her steps. Passion will mark her name. And she still hasn’t said a word. “Oh, girl of fire/ Oh, girl of fire/ Inside my soul I have a fountain/ So that your guilt is inclined to drink”, they continue to sing. That woman, the daughter of a bartender and seamstress, had been born with a gift that would mark a new history for copla and flamenco.
Her name is Lola Flores. Who sings to him, Manolo Caracol. “La niña de fuego” would be the greatest success of the then already consecrated singer-songwriter. It is the story of a sensible man, who falls in love with a flirtatious girl, a lover of nightlife, and offers her to leave that world, in exchange for her love. The dance scene corresponds to the film “El embrujo” (1947), which immortalized them with that theme. Lola Flores was barely 23 years old and it was 4 years since she had started a forbidden relationship with the famous artist, who was married. Together, they would make another film, The Girl for Sale (1951) and that same year they went their separate ways, when the jealousy and fights became unbearable. Before the cinema, the show “Zambra” that they undertook in 1943, with the traces of the Civil War still fresh, became an important cultural event that lasted for several years. Her face was beginning to become familiar and beloved among the Spanish. It is the first stone of the solid legend that will be built by María Dolores Flores Ruiz, the volcanic, carnal and extremely free Lola.
Jerez de la frontera, 1923. As if she knew in advance what the world was about and how she was going to defend herself in it, she was born as if it were a cante and learned to walk like someone who dances. His early talent led her to soon stand out in both arts, having as her first stage the tables of his father’s bar, where he would stop to dance around glasses of wine. Her histrionic style made her unmistakable. Everything was expressed in Lola. Her wild hair, her unstoppable hands, her footsteps that branded fire as they turned and sounded her heels across the world. They express her eyebrows, her perspiration, her fan, her swirling skirt, her bata de cola, her castanets, the snap of her fingers, her earrings, her eyes that are also the landscape of Jerez de la Frontera when the sun goes down. .
It didn’t take long for the world to realize that Lola was a living candle. “Because of that contempt that I gave away / Someone” La Faraona ”began to call me / And I paid no attention to that flattery / I followed my steps without looking back”, she sang in one of her most emblematic songs. And the nickname stuck.
Although she did not manage to become “the Spanish Anna Magnani”, as she wanted, in the 50s she filmed more than 15 films, she made a tour that took her, among other countries, through Cuba, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and also brought her to the Peru in 1955. The diva sang on Radio Victoria and would return on other occasions. “All the “sorrows and alms of love” came together and Lola, the incomparable Lola, imposed her artist personality in a performance to be remembered forever. There we were, interrupting with the “commercials”. I still have the stomp of her flamenco dancers and the echo of that music called “copla” with its message of dramatic history. All the histrionic art of a gypsy woman, who wrapped herself in the whirlpool of her clothing and made her body speak, ”José Carlos Serván Meza, then a new radio host, recalled a few years ago on her blog. Victory.
Despite his hectic pace of tours and concerts, he also had time to star in famous and intense romances that were manna for the newspapers of the time, avid for gossip. One of these stories included Gerardo Coque, a Valladolid and Atlético de Madrid player who left her wife and her club to flee with her to America, as her lover and producer. The picturesque adventure did not last long and Lola sent him back to his wife.
That’s how it went, until she fell in love with the singer, guitarist and composer Antonio González, “El Pescaílla”, with whom she established a clan that would be key in the artistic world of her country -and even beyond- in the last 60 years. “When I met Antonio again, I held the sky in my hands”, Lola once recalled.
His three children, Lolita, Rosario and Antonio Flores, dedicated themselves to art and made a name for themselves years later, although the last of the three – father of Alba, the popular “Nairobi” from Money Heist – died prematurely. , overwhelmed after the departure of his mother, at age 34. In 1961, for her christening, a close friend of her mother’s was present, who enjoyed la vie de bohème in the Spain of that time: Ava Gardner. Lola was the life of the party on stage and off it too. Many stories have been told of the endless partying that she and El Pescaílla would have in her apartment on Calle María de Molina in Madrid. In some of them, prisoners of enthusiasm -and, without a doubt, of drinks-, they even woke up their little children so that they danced for their guests. Everyone lived happily in an atmosphere of art, joy and complete freedom.
Lola began the 1960s, which would consolidate her as a figure of popular culture, singing at the Olympia Theater in Paris. She also appeared on television, sang there, gave interviews, attended galas and events, true to her sociable character. She also hosted some programs and acted in series. This, for better or for worse, left a legacy of his phrases that passed into the popular imagination at not exactly comfortable moments. In a TV performance in 1977, she stopped singing because while she was dancing she lost a gold earring and insisted that they return it “because my work cost me.” Then, in 1983, thousands of people flocked to the church where her daughter Lolita would be married. With obvious discomfort, Lola took a microphone and exhorted them: “If you love me, go away.” Nobody paid attention to her. Then, in 1989, when she had problems with the Treasury for tax fraud, finding out about the pending taxes she had to pay, she said: “If each Spaniard gave me a peseta, I could pay”, becoming a whimsical crowdfunding pioneer. On another occasion, she was asked “Why do you put God as witness when you tell so many lies?” And she replied: “Because when I tell the lies, I make them true.” These are just a few samples of her peculiar character, the one that had its definitive stamp on the “duende”, that mysterious charm with which she was able to tame the wind, the music and the dreams of Spain in a song. As she herself said: “Do you know why I’m pretty? Because the brightness of the eyes is not operated ”.
“El lerele” –as he later called the chalet in La Moraleja where he died-, “Limosna de amores”, “Pena, penita, pena”, “La zarzamora”, “Let the tiger eat me”, “A you will see”, “I am afraid, bullfighter”, “Hey”, “Torbellino de colores”, “Fuego, fuego” or “La luna y el toro” are notable examples of his singing that have remained forever.
In 1990, after receiving a tribute in Miami in which Celia Cruz, Rocío Jurado, El Puma José Luis Rodríguez, Julio Iglesias, Olga Guillot or Raphael and another later on Antena 3 participated, he assured “Now I can die peacefully”. Shortly after, she named a street in Marbella, her favorite summer resort for over 30 years, after her. Lola seemed to be saying goodbye to everyone.
Oh pity, pity, pity
In 1995, almost out of strength, he sang in public for the last time at the Fallas in Valencia. She died just two months later, around 5 am on May 16 of that year at her home in La Moraleja, Madrid, accompanied by her loved ones, after fighting tenaciously with cancer that was initially detected at early 70’s.
Friends and colleagues such as Rocío Jurado, Raphael, Carmen Sevilla or Isabel Pantoja went there to say goodbye. “She was already bad enough, she was already suffering a lot because she could not be Lola Flores, with that vitality and that very great thing that she had. She asked God to take her, too, ”then declared her sister Carmen, another talented singer, still alive today. “You should never forget her because she has been the most Spanish Spaniard that Spain has given,” said her friend and colleague of hers, her singer Paquita Rico. “She invented a way of singing, dancing, being, and living within flamenco art,” said Pedro Almodóvar on her behalf at the time. The Catalan writer Terenci Moix, who called her “One of the most attractive characters in contemporary Spain”, wrote about her in the prologue to “Lola Flores: the volcano and the breeze”, the autobiographical book signed by Juan Ignacio García Garzón: “If his artistic personality deserved the most ardent praise, his sociological aspect today constitutes an inexhaustible vein. It was the sublimation of her personal triumph, her rise to established success step by step, but also her vital tear, with that point of overwhelming sincerity that always magnified her. She is eternal.” And Moix adds: “That Lola was a lot of Flores.”
His burning chapel was installed in the Cultural Center of the Villa, in the Plaza de Colón in Madrid. It has been estimated that nearly 200,000 people went to say goodbye to her.
This is how a woman who was able to succeed during the Franco regime -despite representing the revolution- already had respect earned in the transition, which she faced without surprises, and, of course, also among progressives, thanks to a transgressive character that knew how to sing to them. to the lost loves, to the endless nights, to spite, to feminine pride, since she placed desire and freedom as the epicenter of the emotion of her songs and interpretations. Lola was a powerful woman in the vast sense of the word. According to cantaor Enrique Morente, “It was pure art in motion”. Her daughter Estrella de ella dedicated “To Lola” in a documentary about her figure: “And she, the pharaoh, whirlwind of colors, queen of temperament, the one with the tailed gown, Lola, Lola, Lola.”
A peculiar character, queen of her kingdom, she liked notorious jewels, bingo halls, casinos, the color gold, the Animal Print, the polka dots, the big earrings, the striking makeup, the pastel dresses, the long painted nails, the black eyeliner. She was, in short, a superior mother of kitsch turned into an LGTBQ icon who once asked herself: “Lola Flores, and won’t you come from another planet?”