Too Sexy for Garcia

Committee Bans Flamenco from Mission

Flamenco Stomped Out: Former Old Spanish Days El Presidente Al Pizano is hotter than a spicy salsa about flamenco being banned at next summer’s Fiesta Pequena, which takes place at the Mission.

By what right, Pizano asked in a letter to 2008 El Presidente Tim Taylor, “does the committee presume to determine what is an acceptable art form and what is not?” Pizano is also president of the Flamenco Arts Festival.

He was reacting to a letter to local dance studios from Erin Graffy de Garcia, chair of the Fiesta Pequena Team Committee. The letter specified that the “dances at the Mission must be Spanish classical rather than flamenco (folklorico is fine). This will include the dance by the Spirit of Fiesta as well.

“We are guests of the Friars and as we are performing in front of their church, we seek dances that are traditional, and convey a more modest demeanor.”

“Please save the see-through, sexy or sensual costuming for another venue . . . Any studio that does not comply, or tries to ‘push the envelope’ will not be invited to participate.”

Pizano argued that “since most Spanish scholars trace flamenco back to the late 1500s, what can be more traditional in Spanish culture? The committee seeks ‘a more modest demeanor,’ dancing that is not ‘sexy or sensual,’ which is puzzling to begin with, and which begs the question: Are they also going to ban ballet (hardly non-sensual), an art form that has nothing to do with the Spanish history of Santa Barbara, and where both women and men appear in body-tight outfits?

“And most reprehensible of all, the committee threatens non-conformity with expulsion,” he said. “I hope you and the board of directors will reconsider this ill-conceived and ill-advised action as well as other limitations imposed by the committee.” So far, Pizano has had no response.

The Fiesta committee letter went on to say, “A lot of changes are going on around the Mission, and as we look forward to Fiesta Pequena 2008, we want to recognize and reincorporate the Franciscans into our Fiesta opening, in all facets. We have been in dialog with them on a number of different points/issues/problems concerning Fiesta Pequena and will continue the conversation.

“The Franciscans have traditionally been the host for this community presentation and it is important to reestablish them in that role. In relation to this, we want to tweak the program and create a more distinctive show, which can be differentiated from the Courthouse.

“Performers other than flower girls must be over 13 . . . we will not allow grade school dancers on stage.”

Convent to Be Sold: The Los Angeles Archdiocese has offered to sell the former Sisters of Bethany convent to Santa Barbara’s Our Lady of Guadalupe parish for about $800,000, parishioners were told Sunday.

The small convent, located next to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Nopal Street on Santa Barbara’s Eastside, is vacant. The archdiocese ordered the three Sisters of Bethany nuns to leave their home late last year because the archdiocese needed to sell the property to help settle claims by victims of priest abuse. The nuns found temporary housing at the Episcopal retreat house near the Mission, and may be moving from Santa Barbara soon.

According to a parishioner source, parish priest Fr. Rafael Marin told those attending Mass on Sunday of the archdiocese offer. The understanding was that the property could be used to expand the existing church or for parking. It apparently would be up to the members of the low-income Eastside parish to raise the funds, plus money to finance any church expansion.

The small residence had served the Sisters of Bethany since the 1950s. Whether $800,000 is its true market value is unknown. Fr. Marin could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

She’d Buy, But Wendy Ain’t Selling: Philanthropist Sara Miller McCune would still love to buy the News-Press, but owner Wendy McCaw is making it clear that it’s not for sale.

After Friday night’s showing of the documentary Citizen McCaw, many wondered if the controversy had gotten to the point where Wendy would prefer to sell and get rid of the headache. But her attorney, Barry Cappello, was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article Monday as saying that she had “no interest” in viewing the film and would continue running the paper as she sees fit.

Up in bright lights.
Sue De Lapa

“This is, literally, like water off her back,” Cappello said of the film. And he invoked an old Arabian proverb: “Barking dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.”

Maybe so, but the documentary carries quite a bite, and will be reshown in April 5 and 6 at the Marjorie Luke Theater. Don’t be surprised if it also shows up on HBO or PBS, and maybe even as an Oscar nominee next year. Clips from the Orson Welles 1941 film Citizen Kane got big laughs and reportedly cost the Santa Barbara filmmakers $6,000 a pop. DVDs will be on sale after there’s a TV or movie deal, I hear.

Cappello, however, gave the documentary a lousy review, calling it a “factually flawed hit piece masquerading as a docu-drama.” He also threatened possible legal action, but had no comment on that when I asked him about it Monday via e-mail.

Monday’s L.A. court hearing on whether to order the News-Press to rehire eight fired reporters was delayed for a week. So the drama continues.

For the fearful.
Sue De Lapa

Paper Bags: Because some Santa Barbarans feared Wendy’s wrath so much that they didn’t want to be seen at the sold-out premier, the filmmakers offered paper bags with holes cut in them. One couple donned the headgear and virtually skipped down the Arlington aisle. I also heard from one attendee: “Don’t know if you noticed this but FYI: While all the lucky folks who cadged a ticket to the opening of Citizen McCaw were inside watching the film, outside by 9:15 p.m., the billboard sign had already been changed. Wow! Is that whatz called efficiency?”

Barney Brantingham can be reached at or (805) 965-5205. He writes online columns for Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column for Thursdays.


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