I was born in the Philippines, from a Spanish father and an American mother. I was two years old when we relocated to Andalusia, in the South of Spain. The early memories of my life are of that isolated and rural corner of the world, in the southernmost point of Europe, on the Straits of Gibraltar and by the Pillars of Hercules. Memories filled with horses, cows, mountains, and beaches where the Mediterranean met the Atlantic and from which you could see Africa and the lights of Morocco shining only a few miles across the water.
I had a special childhood, forever outdoors catching bugs, riding polo ponies and fishing for eels and crabs. My siblings and myself were pretty much left to our own devices and we constructed our worlds around nature since there was no one else to play with those first years. Landscape gardener Russell Page, lifestyle photographer Slim Aarons, interior decorator Jaime Parladé, abstract expressionist Fernando Zóbel, Maria Callas, Jackie Onassis were some of the guests that came to our home. My parents were always entertaining. Watching Russell Page and Slim Aarons working closely with my mother for all those years, probably gave me the tools and inspiration that would come in handy later on in my life. Sharp vision, creative chaos and creative control. Their deep knowledge, wide culture, curiosity and hard work, became the backbone of my professional world.
Sadly, I soon outgrew the local school and was sent to a school in faraway England for five years. I was very happy there too and on every trip back to Spain I brought rare rose bushes that my mother had ordered from English nurseries and I hid in their burlap sacks copies of Playboy and Penthouse magazines for my gang of friends who were living under General Franco’s censorship.
Eventually I went to the American University in Paris and through the Spanish model and muse of Yves Saint Laurent, Violeta Sanchez, I got an internship at the press office of Yves Saint Laurent Couture. I cannot remember my university days because we had no campus or cafeteria to hang out at and I had no time to make friends, but I do remember vividly my days at Saint Laurent, working from the office next to Monsieur Saint Laurent’s studio, and catching glances of Monsieur and his tight team of collaborators creating.
I did many more internships, I trained polo ponies every evening in the Bois de Boulogne outside Paris and did tons of menial stints and a lot of bad modeling ones to supplement my pocket money.
At my first proper job right after graduating, I met Tony Viramontes; an unknown fashion illustrator from Los Angeles, who had just arrived in Paris and was hustling for low paid gigs. We became best friends. I decided to help him and now I hustled jobs for him as best I could. I became his model and his first agent. We partied a lot with his gang from Parsons that had moved from NY to Paris looking for work. Steven Meisel, Teri Toye, Mathew Rolston, Way Bandy, Paul Gobal, Leslie Winer, were part of all that.
After five years in Paris I was given two weeks to leave France because I could not get a residence permit. I moved to Milan where everyone was now gravitating to because Franca Sozzani’s Lei and Per Lui magazines were attracting the new talent. I learned Italian, opened my first photographers’ agency and after a lot of work and luck I snagged a bunch of huge jobs for Tony. As his agent I flew in his models for the day on the Concorde. We lived two months every year at the Hotel de la Ville in Rome for Valentino Couture. I modeled for Romeo Gigli and became the head of fashion and design promotion at the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade. And I met Peggy Sirota, a photographer from LA.
In 1988 Tony got sick and died of AIDS.
One year later, I produced the world launch party of Malcolm McLaren’s vogueing record Waltz Darling and six years after I arrived in Milan, I left and went to live in Los Angeles.
Watching and working with McLaren in LA taught me about the music and movie industries. I bought my first shitty car, produced photo shoots, styled a McLaren hip hop band, represented Peggy Sirota, helped Malcolm do his film studio pitches (Oscar Wilde discovers rock’n roll in America and brings it back to England, featuring Neneh Cherry? Hell yes! Count me in.)
Three years later, I moved back to Paris, and slept for a few months on my best friend’s couch. I did some freelance gigs. I was broke. Through a show at the Pompidou museum I found an archive of thousands of old rare commercials. I spent months in a dark dungeon in Pigalle and compiled a reel. I sold the pitch to BBC 2. In London, I wrote and produced the show with McLaren. It was shot and then got cancelled. I moved back to Paris.
I set up my agency and a short time afterwards, I was given the work of a young American photographer whose portfolio consisted of naked boys with wings on their backs. David Lachapelle told me he wanted to do fashion. He joined my team. Pedro Almodovar introduced me to the modern dance artist, cabaret queen and choreographer Blanca Li and I took her on too. And after I listened to the strange EDM and techno musics of a Brit called Doctor Rockit through the listening headsets at the FNAC, Matthew Herbert became part of my unusual crew. Donna Trope and Ali Mahdavi followed too.
It took many years to build and launch their careers. We had time then.
The cancelled BBC 2 show with McLaren became an album called Paris which I created and coproduced. For a decade my agency churned out incredible projects and we worked with unique talent. Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Hardy, LouLou de la Falaise, Sonya Rykiel, Rocco Siffredi, Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Faye Dunaway, Marlon Brando, Prince, Tilda Swinton and Chavela Vargas, were some of the artists I worked with. Guerlain, Vogue, Daft Punk, Blur, Stella McCartney, Janet Jackson and The Face were some of the brands I worked for.
After producing over 1.000 jobs, one day I lost my mojo.
Exactly twenty years after I opened my first agency, I decided to close it and move on. This time I went back to London.
I became a music supervisor for films and worked with Barbet Shroeder, Etienne Chatilliez and Matteo Garrone. I also developed a feature film with director Randa Chahal on the life and exploits of Gertrude Bell, the creation of the modern Middle East and the beginning of the petrol wars. But no one was interested in knowing that part of history. But I have faith that one day someone will.
Because of my siblings and ailing mother, after one year in London, I moved to Madrid and felt quite Spanish again. Then I started a blog called fashionsphinx.com that no one read but where I had fun writing my stories. I moved part of the year to Northern California and pitched my fictionalized tales to televisions. I wrote and wrote those stories, but no one wanted them so raw. How could I write anything else? Raw, dark, dirty, difficult and glamorous is all I knew.
I took my ideas and turned them into the backbone of a novel where I could have full control. I wrote for three years, I wrote all day, every day, I wrote Saturdays and I wrote Sundays.
This is how Wildchilds came to be.