nothing in this world so thoroughly enraptured in machismo as the bullfight. A thousand pounds of angry
beast, a red cape, sharp sword and lonely matador is the stuff of legends, the raw material which turns boys into men,
grows hair on their chest, and embraces every other male rite of passage.
I’m not sure there is a comparable American equivalent which can even come close to the bullfight. As a
result, entrepreneurs cashing in on this dearth of manhood, are bottling up machismo and serving it in the form of
stateside bullfighting schools.
While bullfighting is, of course, illegal in America, teaching it isn’t—much to the chagrin of animal
Geoffrey Gray of the New York Times decides to give it a try and checks into
the California Academy of Tauromaquia just east of San Diego where he
learns the basic moves of a matador, but without the bull. The concept is similar to scuba diving – learn
in the pool first, then head out to open water. “Open water” in this case, is across the Mexican
border where students continue their lessons with live animals in Valle de las Palmas, Baja California.
The basic course stops short of actually killing the bulls, but as is always the case in Mexico, money talks.
One of the students in Gray’s class paid $600 extra for the “privilege” of dispatching a bull. I
guess this is a step up from hunting (and strangely artistic the times I’ve seen it in a professional bullfighting
arena) but I just don’t think killing a bull would make me more of a man—unless I was naked and did it with
my bare hands. Now that would make me a real man.