On the occasion of the homage paid to Kukuxumusu (as you know by now, “the kiss of the flea” in the Basque Language) held at the Maisonnave Hotel on last July11th, the Kukuxumusu Drawing Factory was introduced by Miguel Uriz, the first legal assessor at the company. Miguel Uriz presented his talk by ironically mocking the style of the best bullfighting journalists in taking a tongue-in-cheek look at the origins of the company.
As his amusing presentation went down well and was such an original approach, we have decided it merits an integral presentation here so that everyone can enjoy it:
I find myself here thanks both to the Alemán family hoteliers and to Kukuxumusu. And also thanks to that marvelous invention – the cellular phone – through which the Kukuxumusu director- Mr. Urmeneta – was able to invite me to make the presentation, some days ago. Anyway, despite being forewarned in plenty of time, the usual thing happened. I began to promise myself that I would get down to writing an introductory speech the very next day….and the next….and the next….until finally, this very morning, that aspiration ran out of any further meaning. So what could I do? Well, to tell the truth, I entered the Net and came across one of those digital newspapers and came up with this article all about our friends. So, let me read it to you:
It’s title is : “KUKUXUMUSU: THE BEGINNINGS OF A BULL FACTORY”.
Today the Alemán family of hoteliers, in keeping with their fame for being known – “not for what they hold, but for what they share” – assign a well-merited homage to the “Kukuxumusu” bull company. As all those fans of the bullring will know, Kukuxumusu encompasses all the features of the bullfighting world; bullfighters, bullrings, all the train of assistants needed, and on down to the special clothing that is required.
The homage is well-merited: fifteen years making their presence felt at our fiestas, after some tough beginnings which perhaps my readers are unaware of. And for that reason I will concentrate on those tough early years where the tossings, gorings and general obstacles and obstructions laid down by those in authority and who wanted to hold on to their monopoly of the business, did not manage to deter our heroes.
Fifteen years ago, in 1989, in the esteemed Pamplona bullring, an impromptu intruder – or an “instantaneous” as my grandma used to used to call those who desperately wanted a chance to shine in front of the bulls’ horns – as I say, right in the middle of the Sanfermin bullfighting – this intruder leapt into the ring. He was called Mikel Urmeneta but was better known as “Pertur” an apocope, or shortened form of “Perturbed” But, most surprising of all, he did not make the leap alone, something rare in this kind of forray. In fact he was accompanied – not by one, but by two accomplices. One of these was called Koldo Ayestarán, alias “Zapaterito” or “Colorines” in respective allusion to both his family saga and the well-known shoe stores of that name and to his dominium of his colors. The other was his cousin, Txomin Domínguez de Bidaurreta, alias “Uñarrapiñosa”(tight-fisted) for his fame in being so cautious with the cash and accounts of the aforesaid company, where the last cent would find its pot. From this moment on, the three young men formed an inseparable trio, jointly staking their claim in the rings. From that year, even today they still keep a bloodied tee shirt, stained in sweat and blood to remind them of their tough beginnings.
Their reckless debut did not go unnoticed, because the following year, 1990, the powerful local corporation called the “Pamplona City Hall” decided to count on their collaboration for the fiesta poster for that year. The desire and voracity of this giant corporation to take over and possess the Kukuxumusu trio gave rise to some grave frictions which ended up with the said poster being dumped in the garbage. But even this waste of money did not deter the “Pamplona City Hall” from bringing out a new copy of the poster, knowing that success was guaranteed.
But the following year, 1991, this rift became more apparent. Once again, the “Pamplona City Hall” corporation tried to get the exclusivity of a new torero, one Vicente Marcos from Alicante. But this brave man wanted Kukuxumusu as his sponsor. When the big corporation saw that its monopoly was in danger they decided to take advantage of the fact that the trio were in the ring and they sent in one of their dangerous bulls from their own breed under the name of “criminal charge”. The judge at the bullring, a good and fair magistrate, sent this bull straight back out of the ring as his presence was deemed totally unjustified. In addition, the said corporation was sentenced to pay some compensation to the Kukuxumusu trio.
With the aim of avoiding any similar mishaps in the future, “Pertur”, “Colorines” and Uñarrapiñosa” decided, not only to seal their formation as a poster making business, but also to set about forming their own breed of brave bulls. Thanks to the perfect bond between the trio they came up with a bull which is now a characteristic symbol of the company. It is a blue-colored bull with yellow horns and it has been branded with the signature of “Pertur” as well as being given its colors by “Colorines” and it is “Uñarrapiñosa” who decides its price on the market each year. They decided to find a ranch for their bull and so they set up their place at “Matesa” – a historical site for fierce bulls where some years before, one of the bulls gave a terrible mauling to one Manuel Fraga Iribarne – a well-known “national” and forced his retirement from public life for some years.
Thus the trio with their breed and breeding grounds decided it was time to look further afield and triumph in other rings, even beyond San Sebastian and Bayonne where they already had set up some sites.
Soon they were to be seen way down South , then West, over Galicia way, and also appearing in France.
Once their physical presence was assured in all the bullrings available, they decided to be the first company to set up a “virtual” bullring. And here too, they have been successful, giving it the name of the martyr who protects them – “Sanfermin.com”.
All through these years they have never failed to comply with their desire to dress the participants of the Fiesta, and they have consistently produced quality garments which have had great success in all the grounds that they appear in.
Since 1994, perhaps influenced by the friendliness which surrounds them, they have always hailed their presence in the Pamplona Fair with the issue of their own poster for the said Fair.
In short, what exactly is the “technique” of our trio?
Mikel Urmeneta, “Pertur” has long adapted the “toreo tremendista”, or bravura approach, with lots of wizard strokes in his fingertips. One of his favorite passes, the “autorretrete” or “self-portrait –in-the-privy”, consists of meeting the charge while rested in a sitting posture on the privy bowl, and this original pose brought him instant fame thanks to the president of the ring who distained this original and daring movement. Equally well-known is his pass known as the “atusamiento” – a colorful affected polished pose as he hails the bull with the cape folded over his right hand as he smooths down with both hands the little hair that remains to him. He can count on experienced henchmen such as Javier Arbilla, or “arbillita” and Miguel Gallego –“el bola de Carlos III,” who will just as soon play with the heifers as with some bull with sinister intentions. And it is imperative to mention a recently signed-up ambitious henchman who will undoubtedly take the place of the maestro some day as he continues to learn the ropes. We refer to Koldo Balda, alias the “cuñadísimo” or “keep-it-in-the family case” who has a close resemblance to one who presided the regional fiesta during many years until he got a tremendous goring and was taken off to recover
The followers of Pertur are boisterous and wild, fond of a hullabaloo as is fitting for our intrepid torero.
Koldo Ayestarán,- both “Zapaterito” and “Colorines” at the same time - is a more academic torero, honorable in his use of the cape and with a sense of firm responsibility to his public, which although limited, is very enthusiastic and compensated by his inherent qualities. Recently sidelined from his old gambits in the ring, he now prefers to keep a low profile in country estate, enjoying the company of his family in the Republic of “Juslapeña”. He has guaranteed the continuity of the family name with an offspring, who, although still a toddler, shows promising signs, where this commentator had the opportunity to appreciate a pass made with a sidelong glance that paid no attention to the bull before him. It is worthy of mention that, like his cousin, “Uñarrapiñosa”, he has a woman among his aides, an innovation to our national pastime where there have of course been women toreros, but never before women aides.
Txomin Dominguez de Bidaqurreta, is the one who has spent least time in the bullring, rather preferring the “fights” fought within the confines of certain banks and financial institutions. For this reason he has had a more discreet press, but his work is necessary to ensure the success of the trio. His talent lies with the sword, the lightening trust that means that any document, or loan or bill that belongs to the big bank breeders like BBVA or Santander or whoever, will receive a quick and certain stab in the exact point. Of course there is some explanation for this piercing ability and before breaking out on his own he worked for these same breeders himself and he knows their workings from the inside. He too has a close aide of the female gender, one Sonia who is taking charge of the education of his natural successor and to teach him his first steps.
Who could deny a well-deserved round of applause which, thanks to the hospitality of the Maisonnave Hotel and its directors, we can direct at Kukuxumusu.
Signed: “Marquesito de Ihelz”.(bullfighting columnist)