Anarchy, success, backstabbing, jealousy, greed and oblivion. The story of Locomoy, one of the most emblematic groups of the nineties, and from a time that marked the history of Spain, would really make for a good Venezuelan soap opera. For now, however, it will be told in a documentary series produced by Boxfish and Movistar Plus+ opens this June 22. “[Fue concebida] With the idea of explaining how they collaborated to change our country with their music, their choreographies, their styling and their fans at a time when Spain was struggling to progress and open up to the outside world”, commented the project director, Jorge Laplace.
Throughout three chapters, locomia traces the history of the group from the moment its creator, Xavier Font, he left Barcelona and settled in Ibiza in the mid-eighties, willing to create an urban tribe. The boy then shared a house with his brother Luis, his boyfriend Gard Passchier (a funny Dutchman whom he met on the island) and his lover Manuel Arjona (a gay teenager from a conservative family). The four of them hung out designing their extravagant outfits and dancing at the KU Club, a mecca of 80s patriotic hedonism. Until one day, the owners of that place hired them to dance on their huge stage and entertain their regular audience.
Freddie Mercury, fan of Locomoy
The charisma of the troupe dazzled celebrities such as Freddie Mercury, who came to appear at the clothing store that Font opened in the area and bought him a couple of suits. But his success began to arouse too much jealousy, hatred and envy on the Balearic island, to the point that, one night, the commune in which they all lived together was intentionally burned. That, together with the fact that Manuel began to have problems with drugs and that the formation underwent some change (Carlos Armas replaced Gard after beginning an affair with Font), led to the locomías opting to leave Ibiza several summers later.
In those days, the record executive José Luis Gil entered the scene, who fell in love with the group’s self-confidence after seeing him perform one night. “Little by little”, he confessed in his book Requiem for music, artists and industry, “everyone who was dancing stopped and a huge circle began to form to admire these young minstrels who, with a profusion of brocades, velvets and large shoulder pads, gave a cubist aspect to the proportions of their bodies completely out of time and station, were leaving the world’s most modern in awe”.
The one who was president of Hispavox (who had already worked with people like Miguel Bose either Rafaella Carra) He talked to them and offered to form a boy band to dance music. “Music makes locomia stop being an Ibizan seasonal anecdote to become a group with international success”, says Gil proudly in the first chapter. Immediately afterwards, he took the boys to Madrid and put them to give dance classes. After instilling some discipline in them, he signed the producer Pedro Vidal (discoverer of the cod route), brought Juan Antonio Fuentes into the group (replacing Luis Font), and released what would be the first album by Locomoy, Taiyo (1989), full of catchy songs that rocked him in a country that, in the late eighties and early nineties, was struggling to change, to modernize and to open up more to the rest of the world.
Locomías did not skimp then on makeup, pointed shoes and fans and XXL shoulder pads. The gay public adored them, although they, knowing that the vast majority of their devotees were women, decided (or rather were forced to) to be ambiguous when talking about their sexuality in interviews. “The ambiguity is commercial. The definition of sex, in a musical project, limits the audience that you are going to address. You exclude it before having listened to you,” the former producer and musical manager points out in the second episode. ” There was a big tagline, which was: you lose more oil than Locomía’s van. It wasn’t typical of a country that thought it was modern”, explains actor Antonio Albella, who would also become part of the troupe.
“In Argentina, Mexico and Chile, above all, the fan phenomenon was very heavy,” he tells CINEMAMANIA Carlos Armas, who became the group’s sex symbol. “We got pretty scared. I remember that once, in Córdoba (Argentina), there were a lot of people leaving the hotel, and the van we were in began to emit smoke from the engine. Since it couldn’t start, we had to get off it, and there we thought: ‘Either we’ll get burned, or we’ll get devoured’, because everyone wanted to have something from you and people don’t control”.
The beginning of the end
Everything seemed to be going well for Locomy. But the constant fights between Xavier Font and Carlos Armas (who more than once came to physically attack each other), and the insurmountable differences between the founder of the group and his representative led the Catalan to leave the group (although he kept the brand and continued to receive a salary). As the show must go on, locomia (to which Francesc Picas joined at that time) recorded his second album, Crazy Vox (1991), where the boys presented more commercial themes and an aesthetic that moved away from transgression. It was then that Gil received an offer for the group to begin the conquest of the US market.
The last chapter of the documentary, entitled Goodbye, fan, goodbye, reveals how the founder of Locomoy, who was then living in Miami, felt that he had lost control of everything that happened in the group and was quite eager for revenge against the manager. That feeling led him to convince the locomías to break the contract with Gil. “Xavier informed us that, through Sony, he had found out that Gil was stealing from us,” explains Armas. “We were already burned by a situation where José Luis wouldn’t let us do anything. There was forged a betrayal of which we do not measure the consequences either. At the height of our career, when we were about to record in English, everything fell through.”
With a telefax statement, Locomía reported from Miami that he was disassociating himself from the company and its commitments. As Gil still had to respond to his commitment to the record company, he decided to recruit several new guys and recorded with them what would be Locomía’s last official album, party time (1993). “Gil took some characters for the group,” says Armas. “One of them had been our make-up artist, another was a brother of Xavier Font and another was a boy named Anthony Albella, who was a friend of José Luis and appears in the first video we recorded in Ibiza. Meanwhile, the original group was struggling to move on. I don’t know why these characters lent themselves to replace other people who were already in full success. In fact, it’s something they paid for.”
party time It had hardly any commercial impact. The staunch followers of the original group saw the new locomías as a bunch of impostors, so the members of that improvised formation quickly put an end to their musical career. From there, there were fights, failed attempts to rebuild the band and the occasional lawsuit. In fact, Gil filed a lawsuit against Font for ownership of the brand. Locomoy, although he ended up losing it (today, the former owns the rights to the songs, while the latter has the name of the group).
“If Locomía were around today, it would have as many Grammys as Daddy Yankee”, affirms without hesitation Font, who does not hide his desire to participate some year in Eurovision, and to find four young boys willing to take over from the musical formation that he set up. Would such a project have a future? “I don’t know,” says Armas. “There would have to be an evolution, and I don’t know what an evolution would be, because we are talking about something that is already dead. They would have to be reborn, and how would they have to do it? We were not born from a casting. Ours arose naturally, from a group of friends who got together and created Locomía with their small contributions. I hope it goes well [a Font], but I do not believe it. There is no magic formula for success. If it existed, everyone would succeed.”
Do you want to receive the best movie and series recommendations every Friday in your email? Sign up for our Newsletter.