wine & dine # 11

photo Pieter Vandermeer

Sometime in the early seventies, José Ocaña left his small town in southern Spain and moved to Barcelona. His flamboyancy needed bigger spaces and more appreciative audiences.
Ocaña was a painter -walls for a living, canvases for art's sake- and an all round performer.
He settled down in a big apartment on Plaça Reial, put a Virgin Mary shrine on the balcony and filled it with flowers in bloom.
It didn't take long for him to bloom too. Gender bending up and down the Ramblas he became the queen of the underground in no time. Some were outraged, most were amused.
Never a dull moment when he was around, and he was around a lot, usually holding court on the terrace at the Café de la Opera. His shrieks, his amazing command of the Spanish fan, his pagan processions with catholic imagery, his colorful naïf paintings, his in-your-face gay rights militancy...Ocaña was an ineludible figure in seventies Barcelona.
Ocaña died tragically in his hometown in the very early eighties. He was doing fine, he had been on television, papers and magazines. He even had his own full length ducumentary! It was time to go back south visit his family after all those years. It was the village fiesta, there was a parade and he decked himself out in a very elaborate sun disguise that fatally took fire somehow. He went, his legend remains.

About a year ago a wondeful café-restaurant & club opened right on the ground floor of the building where Ocaña used to live. He'd be proud of such a great place bearing his name. If you haven't yet, check it out!

Ocaña. Plaça Reial 13-14-15.
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