April 24, 2013 -- I don't believe in supernatural occurrences, but If I ever find a magic lamp -- the kind that houses a buff wish-granting genie in a sultan's getup -- I already know what I'm going wish for: to be the guest of a fancy cocktail party hosted by Sara Montiel. Why Sara Montiel? Well, not because she died on April 8th -- the same day as Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello -- not because she was a great actress, a talented singer, a sex symbol -- a legend, basically in her native Spain and beyond -- but because she was a character.
This is no obituary. I'm not going to breakdown her life story à la what-every-other-news-outlet did because, God, how tedious and boring would that be? Plus that's what Wikipedia is for. I'm just gonna detail my imaginary cocktail party because making up silly scenarios is how I deal with the loss of people I admire. (You should have seen my mother's face when she walked in on her full-grown son while he was "hanging out with Chavela Vargas at a dirty cantina in Coyoacan, Mexico," AKA I was getting wasted in my parent's living room while hugging and talking to a floor lamp.)
Seriously, if my dream cocktail party ever came true, I know Sarita would undoubtedly show up dressed in an ostentatious gown, sporting a marvelously coiffed hairdo, and she'd sing "Fumando espero" -- among various other hits from her extensive catalogue -- to myself and the rest of the adoring guests. Oh and speaking of guests, many of Montiel's "co-workers" should be sitting around the room, benevolently heckling her from a distance. Famous co-stars such as Arturo Cordoba ("Furia Roja," 1951), Fernando Rey ("Locura de amor," 1948), Katy Jurado ("Cárcel de mujeres," 1951), Pedro Infante ("Necesito dinero," 1952), Burt Lancaster, Gary Cooper ("Vera Cruz," 1954), Vincent Price ("Serenade," 1956), and -- why not? -- Charles Bronson! ("Yuma," 1957).
In between songs "Saritísima" as nickname given to her by Terenci Moix, would gladly entertain all her guests with salacious stories about hooking up with James Dean, cooking eggs for Marlon Brando, and smoking Cuban cigars with Ernest-fucking-Hemingway. Other quips about the men in her life -- such as Hollywood director Anthony Mann, her first husband, and Cuban cameraman Tony Hernández, her fifth and last husband who was her 38 years her junior and gave the press lots to gossip about -- would also come about.
Of course, Sara Montiel didn't need to name drop in order to prove she's no lighweight; taking a look at any thorough internet data base will show Montiel participated in more than 40 films -- in Spain, Mexico, and Hollywood -- and sang various styles of music in over 20 records (Hello, Fangoria!).
Ah, but being incredibly talented, beautiful, and successful doesn't make you impervious to one unforgettable flaw: taking yourself too seriously. One of Sara's most overlooked qualities, especially as she got older is that she was never afraid to be irrelevant or to poke fun at herself. Acting out weird MTV spots or laughing off false news reports of her death ("Worried [people] have been calling my house and I'm like 'Hey, it's the dead one. What's up?") proved she could take a joke. That gives me another reason to make her the host of my dreamed-up soiree.
Throughout the night, I'd stick to Sarita's side like a leech because I wouldn't forgive myself if I missed any of her remarks. She's already blessed us with many gems of phrases ("I sleep with my ass up in the air, naked, and in silk bed sheets" and what became household in Spain "What's going on?! What treachery is this?!") but, considering she always gave hilarious interviews, I know she would be on fire.
At the end of the cocktail party, once we've all mingled, Montiel would retake the stage and, before signing off for the night, she'd kick off "La violetera," her iconic song about a pretty girl who sells violets ("La violetera," 1958) Sara will be holding a basket full of flowers -- and I'll buy out her stock -- but, before the song is over, before the curtain closes in front of her, I'll gift them all back.