After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Tanguera Tales: Maximiliano Superstar
Tango has a flavor of life and a taste of death.
--Attributed to poet Celedonio Flores
He was a world famous tango superstar. He appeared in most of the tango movies, on international TV, and on Broadway. Older than most professional stage dancers, tall and elegantly thin, with thick curly gray hair tamed with gomina, his passionate, sensuous dancing style was her favorite, his workshops always the best.
At all times with the youngest and most beautiful women, everyone knew he was married, or had been married a few times, and that he had a lover in each city he visited on his world tours. He hid nothing, put on no acts offstage. What you saw was what you got. He had tremendous charisma, both onstage and off. When he danced with even a beginner, he made her look—and feel --like a queen.
Kristin had taken many of his classes in her around-the-world tango odyssey and was smitten with his style. He taught with humor, wisdom, personality, and a charming humility. He had the ability to convey how to dance, not just do steps.
One night when he needed a ride, she volunteered to pick him up at his hotel in Beverly Hills. At the dance they sat together at his table of friends and well-known fellow performers, and he was considerate, gracious and generous to her. Kristin was the first person he asked to dance. Of course she knew what everyone was thinking, but she was proud anyway. He always wore the same exquisite Italian cologne, and even the aroma of his French cigarettes didn’t detract. Kristin was happy to go along with the program.
On the way back from the dance, he invited her to dinner at an all-night restaurant on Melrose, a favorite of visiting professional Argentinian dancers. Just the two of them at one in the morning (usually impossible in L.A.), they sat in the patio warmed by heat lamps and plants and flowers, and he ordered Chateau Lafitte Rothschild and the best imported steaks. Kristin knew she was in for it.
He spoke several languages, and was the most sophisticated man Kristin ever had dinner with. Certainly, his stories and conversation were all about him, but they were fascinating stories and interesting conversation. He told her about his childhood, how tango seduced him, how he began his career as a teenager and had been dancing and traveling around the world ever since. She enjoyed every minute of listening. She had nothing to say to him, but everything to hear.
He asked her in when they got to his hotel, as expected. She went, more curious about him than anything. Later she rather wished she hadn’t seen him naked, with his skinny brown legs and small pot belly. The sex was quick, boring and prefunctory, almost obligatory. Many great tango dancers express all of their passion and emotion on the dance floor and there is very little left for the bedroom.
There is no question that Kristin preferred dancing with him to making love with him. She would rather dance with him than anyone else in the world, and then she ruined it by going to bed with him.
Now she feels uncomfortable when she sees him, even though he always treats her special in public, calling her Corazon and other endearments, as he does with all of his women. To be fair, it was Kristin who “rejected” him afterwards. He never did the latino conquistador thing with her of bedding and then casting aside, she never gave him the chance. He was always a gentleman. But Kristin lost her fantasy that night, and it left a small hole in her life.
She saw him by accident at La Catédral in Buenos Aires. He asked her to hold his drink while he took a hit of cocaine in the men’s room, and couldn’t seem to understand why she didn’t want to go back to his hotel. When she refused, he looked at her for a long time, seemingly unable to process the information through the alcohol and drugs. His professional partner had just left town to visit her family in the north, and she guessed he didn’t like to be without a woman. Any woman, even Kristin.
Now she avoids him and so has lost her favorite teacher, and favorite dance partner, as well as her flight of the imagination, which always took her to Tango Heaven,