The Saturday before the declaration of the state of alarm, Jorge Javier Vazquez (Badalona, 1970) premiered his latest play, ‘Desmontando a Seneca’, a humorous monologue based on texts by the Cordovan thinker that serve as an alibi to reflect on the great questions of existence. Then came what came, and that tour that he had to keep for a year in a drawer now brings him, from July 25 to 27, to Tivoli Theater from Barcelona. Soon he will take a vacation from TV and a year that has been hard for everyone, and also for him.
-Do you remember the day of the premiere, on the other side of the pandemic? How do you see it from here?
– If I’m honest, I don’t even know how many years have passed. It has been all so strange that I cannot distinguish. Personally, I have had a worse time in the second part of the pandemic than at the beginning, but it would seem immoral to complain knowing the suffering that has occurred. My job has saved me. This year I have worked more than in my entire life, but I did it so as not to think about what was happening.
-Has the pandemic changed you at all?
-Yes, for the worse. I notice that now it is harder for me to relate. I see people with a crazy desire to go out and return to the terraces and enjoy themselves, but I can’t feel that need. On the contrary: I do not feel like sharing with crowds, I prefer to be at home, calm.
-And that is bad?
-I don’t like it, because it doesn’t suit my character. I am bothered by the signs that have to do with having a birthday. I don’t want to become ‘I’ve lived it all’, because then life would have no meaning. With the pandemic I have also become more intolerant.
– How do you notice it?
-There are things that I did not care about before and now I do not consent to them. For example, I do not allow discussion of basic rights already conquered because now some want to question them. I am 50 years old and I am not willing to put up with certain speeches. I refuse. Just as I refuse to talk about politics with people who have a radically opposite ideology to mine. I’m not wasting any more time with those people.
-We have experienced a health emergency. Why have we talked so much about politics?
-Because the right has not opposed, but has wanted to scrap Spain. The attitude of the PP during the pandemic has caused me enormous disappointment. And then to see them by the hand of whom they go, and with that ease, and in the light of day … They have speeches so stale and archaic, so crappy … But the amazing thing is that there are people who buy them.
“If we saw Ayuso in a television series, we would lose heart. We would think: it can’t be, the scriptwriter has gone overboard with that character”
– There will be some explanation.
– Madrid has left me amazed. Let’s see, people have voted what they have voted and I accept it, but that does not prevent me from pointing out that Ayuso’s speech is the worst that this Community has heard in a long time. Her oratory is so primary, so poor, so naive… If we saw her on a television series, we would be disheartened. We would think: it can’t be, the scriptwriter has gone overboard with that character. What I wear the worst is that people very close to me see it well. It does not fit in my head.
-In the campaign he publicly supported Gabilondo. Did you always have that political streak?
-No, I have never had political training, nor have I been an activist, nor was it discussed in my house. Franco died when I was five years old and I grew up surrounded by those ‘don’t get involved in politics’ and ‘don’t look for trouble’ tics so common in the dictatorship. My positions have been given to me by my own experience and to come across proposals and ideas with more common sense than others. I have always voted socialist, but I have never been a member of any party. The Gabilondo thing came about because I was at home seeing what was happening in Madrid and I wondered if I could help with something. I thought it was worse to keep quiet.
-Do you regret having shown such a political profile?
-No, for myself I would say more and much fatter things, but I understand that I cannot use the pulpit that I have on TV to continually give my opinion. Anyway, Sálvame is a program attached to the present, and one is not made of stone …
-Your program continues to break audience records. What do you attribute it to?
-The pandemic has made us all see how important entertainment is, something that we do not value until they lock us up at home. Sálvame has connected with the people who were confined and who found in us four hours a day of love, heartbreak, joys and disappointments, which are the elements of which life is made. What amuses me the most about the show is when we elevate the drama to nothing but nothing.
-The case of Rocío Carrasco, to whom they have dedicated long hours, was not nothing. Why has it had such an impact?
-Because it has removed the foundations of a society that feels fear, shame and shame to face the situations that she has told, and that occur more often than we think. And because she has broken a taboo: to say publicly, without fear of being called a bad mother, that her daughter abused her and that she cannot maintain a relationship with her. Rocío has done more for the fight against gender violence than many awareness campaigns. But I have also had some negative surprise.
-How to hear women make you ugly that you have confessed your suffering in public. That of: you solve that at home, and if you can’t, then you can put up with it. To my amazement, I receive messages from mothers of abusive children who say that Rocío should have kept quiet and continue to endure what they endure without question. This reveals how much more remains to be done.
“When the end of Mila Ximénez was approaching, I asked my doctor to raise my antidepressants because I wanted to be strong”
-What Rocío Carrasco signs now for ‘Save me’ discredits her testimony?
-Why? The chain has decided to hire her because she is the character of the moment and she wants to work. Rocío was already on TV before living what she has experienced. Making other hints seems very dangerous to me. Because then, what life are the victims to have? Should they stay home and continue to be victims forever? Let Rocío get her life back.
-This year there has also been the death of Mila Ximénez, a collaborator of your program and a close friend of hers. What has this loss meant to you?
-Now I realize that, without realizing it, I have spent the year angry with the world, even with her, and it was because she got sick. She was my life partner, I could not imagine that she could disappear. I had stopped taking the antidepressants, went back to taking them, and as it was nearing its end, I asked my doctor to increase my dose because I wanted to be stronger. So, Mila, wherever you are, know that I’m taking more pills because of you (laughs).
-Remembering her makes him laugh. Is it a good sign?
-It gives me peace of mind having been able to say goodbye to her. We were remembering and we talked about when I separated from my boyfriend and she said to me: Oh, Jorge, how bad this is for my liver! We have experienced so many good things together that I cannot remember it with regret. I don’t know if my attitude is childish or the result of the medication, or that the body is holding on for the duration of the program and then I will come to the bottom. Or maybe, as Seneca says in my play, death is part of life and I have managed to accept it.
HIS IS PURE THEATER
Jorge Javier does not dare to put his hand on fire about his future as a presenter, but he is clear that in the decade that he inaugurated last year we will often find him on stage. ‘Disassembling Seneca’ is his third play, but it will not be the last.
“People don’t understand that, after a week of work on TV, I put thousands of kilometers in my body to do five shows in two days, but they don’t know the amount of energy you receive when you’re up there. It is strange, but fantastic. In the end, they are emotions, and as age makes you feel them less and less, when you stumble upon them you have to take advantage of them. I find them in the theater ”, he explains.