Gerald Brenan, Lennon or Brigitte Bardot: the craziest years of the Costa del Sol

A book, ‘Eccentrics on the Costa de Sol’, compiles the stories of the intellectuals, artists, counterfeiters and gangsters who flocked to the Malaga coast attracted by freedom, the beach and an endless party.

There was a time when on the Costa del Sol you could see Brigitte Bardot having a drink in a restaurant accompanied by a donkey. Also John Lennon and Brian Epstein in a cafeteria, the eternal forger Elmyr de Hory going down to the beach with a basket of esparto grass, Sean Connery in the audience of a cinema where James Bond films were shown, Jean Cocteau working his ceramics or the gangster Kray brothers draw their pistol too quickly in the face of any argument.

With the support of an incipient Marbella and the literary circle that Gerald Brenan and Gamel Woosley promoted in Churriana, Torremolinos was the epicenter of those golden years in a landscape formed by a handful of white villages.

People from half the planet gathered there to squeeze la dolce vita without anyone asking for explanations. They did it on the beach, but also in gambling dens like Pedro’s, The Blue Note or Betty’s Bar. The owner of the latter, the British bullfighter Betty Pope, is remembered entertaining Frank Sinatra while Ava Gardner met Luis Miguel Dominguin.

The list of characters that passed through the Malaga coastline in the second half of the last century seems endless, especially between the sixties and eighties.

A work by JoseLuis Cabrera and Carlos G. Pranger illustrated by Cintia Gutiérrez, who has just inaugurated the editorial line of the Centro Cultural La Termica de Malaga.

A compilation of lives that go beyond fiction, full of anecdotes, surprising friendships and pictures that allow us to glimpse the magic of a corner of freedom in full Francoism.

The Torremolinos that marked an era was “a vaudeville, a party that seemed to have neither beginning nor end”, as the authors point out in the book, in which they have worked intensively for two years “so that the history of the Costa del Sol does not get lost ”, as stated by Cabrera.

The great biographies are mixed with details such as the sale of contraceptives in the Torremolinos pharmacy, in whose streets the smell of hashish from

With mourning women or fishing families. An unknown drug at the time (“we had no idea about drugs,” admitted Fernando Camacho, one of the members of the first narcotics brigade, born in 1976) as protagonist as alcohol. Writer and screenwriter William McGivern wrote that in this Eden “servants and liquor” were “amazingly cheap.”

Several writers from the generation of ’27, along with Salvador Dalí and Gala Eluard —who starred in the first documented.

That still virgin place took off after the end of the Moroccan protectorate, when the inhabitants of that international Tangier saw in Torremolinos a mirror on the other side of the Mediterranean.

And word of mouth ended up joining the paths of the most varied characters when the cement that today invades the Malaga coastline was just a bad dream.

“We used to sit in a Torremolinos cafe looking at all the boys, I would ask him: ‘Do you like this one? Do you like that one? ”, Recalls John Lennon in his memoirs after his visit to Torremolinos in 1963 with the representative of The Beatles, Brian Epstein. He would return two years later to visit the flamenco tablao La Bodega Andaluza, where he saw Carrete dance. The beginning of the sixties brought the first English pub to Malaga, Shelagh’s Bar. Also meeting points such as Betty’s Bar or The Fat Black Pussy Cat, driven by the singer John Mitchell, who was once seen entering a bank branch on the back of his horse. Another indispensable was Pedro’s, where Henri Charriere ―author