Catalunya Barcelona film team talks to drag queen Sergio Satanassa about the dangers of gay life in 1980s Barcelona.


Sergio Satanassa

Interviewed June 27, 2017 for Catalunya Barcelona docuseries.

Your name?

Hello, good morning everyone, my name is Sergio Satanassa…


Hello everyone, I’m Sergio Satanassa, my stage name is Satanassa and we’re here in Barcelona.

Can you tell us where and when were you born?

I was born here in Barcelona, the 25th of April of an uncertain year, many years ago.

I was born in the Maragall neighborhood and raised in a middle class family, middle class and catholic school.

What brought you to the Drag scene?

[Start over again]

Can you tell us your name?

Hello, my name is Sergio, my stage name is Satanassa and altogether is Sergio Satanassa, and I’m from Barcelona.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Barcelona, the 25th of April many years ago. I was raised in a middle class neighborhood, Maragall, and I studied in Horta, in a catholic school, everything pretty average.

What made you be a Drag Queen?

That was over forty years ago now. What took me there is that I felt different from the others. I knew I was a boy, but I also had a feminine side, a girl.

Back then, late sixties and early seventies, I had to hide that. It couldn’t be, you thought you were an oddball, a monster.

During that time, you couldn’t bring out the feminine side. But, when I became a teenager, I noticed I had a very womanly side.

It didn’t exist at all the Drag Queen phenomenon or transvestism. So I had a sort of double life when I was 17 or 18, in which I was a normal boy during the day that went to school and later university, where I studied industrial psychology.

And by night I got my make up done, I put on… every time I dressed more exaggerated. I’d put make up on, wear hats ever more extravagant, feminine or ambiguous clothes.

And I went at night to the few gay clubs that started to appear here in Barcelona.

I eventually realized that if I wasn’t harming anyone I couldn’t carry on with that charade. And I didn’t hurt anybody exteriorizing a femininity I had.

That’s how I started to dress up as a woman, mixing up feminine and masculine clothing, and that took me…

Eventually it took me to work. Back then I went everywhere like that. I would wake up in the morning and the first thing I’d do was shower, shave my face and body, put make up on, choose the clothes I’d wear and that’s how I went on to do my daily life: shopping, university, I went everywhere like that.

Eventually, with time, I started working as this and of course, now I don’t take it to such extremes.

Back then it was a sort of social rebellion. We lived in a world that Barcelona and Spain were starting to open a bit.

But we came from a dictatorship and a world where the minds of people were not ready for this.

Now that you’ve mentioned the dictatorship, during that time repression and censorship were specially strong since it belonged to a regime very tied to the church and so. But travenstism had been not accepted since before. Can you talk about the sexual repression before and during Franco? Or some story told to you by a friend or family regarding that?

Yes, of course. The years after the dictatorship there was a boom of freedom, but it was yet not very accepted. 20 years ago, you wouldn’t think that gay marriage or that two men could get married or even adopt children, would be possible. To me, it was something really unreal.

There was a repression on all levels. During the seventies, started the ‘destape’, but it was only regarding women. The gay phenomenon wasn’t yet in the minds of people.

So everything has been like a revolution. I remember in school having sung the ‘Cara al Sol’. While very young, but it’s a bit engraved on my head.

There was also a change of people’s mindset. Realize that we’re all the same, we suffer for the same things, we feel the same things; and the fact that you like dressing up as a woman or you like a man or a woman is really irrelevant because what matters is the person.

I’ve seen many cases. I’ve seen beating ups, kids in my class that with… well, back in school I was really alone, very apart.

But then there were peers and so who, for example, when they came out as gays or something similar their parents had thrown them out of their homes. Some had even come to my place to spend Christmas or New Year’s eve because they had thrown them out right away.

You’ve talked about repression in the past, do you think there are still problems now? Have you recently been marginalized or victimized?

No, things have changed a lot nowadays. I haven’t been marginalized or victimized, but just the day before yesterday in Chueca, Madrid, there was a homophobic aggression from neo-Nazis to a gay couple.

I sometimes go to places as a guest star and, when you go out of Barcelona, which is a really open minded city, very cosmopolitan, and with another mindset, a live and let live. Madrid is a bit similar, they world gay pride will be in Madrid, just next week.

I’ve been there many years, this year I won’t be able to go, but I’ve been in there parading in floats and so.

It’s a great open mindedness in Barcelona. But you go to places in rural Spain and you find people who still haven’t accepted it.

It’s true that the media and tv shows have done a lot in favor, but there’s still a lot to do: there are still people who are marginalized, kids in school who suffer mobbing and there are many issues.

Now, for example, there are groups of lesbians that the adopting or artificial insemination is forbidden from them for being women. So, in this country there’s still…

Still, we really should have the same rights and privileges, but there are still many doors that we have closed.

Not to mention church. I can understand someone being a catholic and a homosexual, but in many places they have the doors closed to attend mass with the rest.


After Franco’s death, in 1977 there was the first demonstration for the homosexual rights, then the libertarian international conference, which are events that helped sexually open the country. From your point of view, how has political activism helped bring about this change of sexual and social advancement to Barcelona?

From my point of view, after the dictatorship those started to show, for there were many movements in favor of the rights of gays and lesbians. Because the rights of transsexuals has come way later and isn’t completely there yet.

Then there’s been a constant fight for our rights. But of course, in that fight many politicians have joined too, opening a world of equality. There have also been political parties in Spain, like the PP, that have put many obstacles to let homosexual citizens to have the same rights.

Luckily, there have been other countries that have supported it, there have been associations like LGTB and all that have done in favor of our rights and have made people aware, they have made visible something that has been there all their lives but back then it wasn’t acceptable.

Can you talk us about the history of transvestism in Spain?

Let’s talk Sitges now. Why do you think Sitges is such an European landmark of sexual freedom? For how long has that been happening?

As far as I know, I remember Sitges since I was little. It’s a place where, I don’t know why, could go spend the summer in public gay couples and they could hold hands, there were specific clubs for them, they could go to the beach and give each other a caress and a kiss, which they couldn’t before, it wasn’t accepted that you did a display of affection, of love, towards someone of your own sex.

With girls, it has always been a bit unnoticed, like they are just friends and hold hands. But with boys is has always been more difficult, you were exposed to anything happening to you.

And Sitges has been gathering people who were on that level, a bit more evolved mentally than we are. They have been picking up people from many places that some have even settled in Sitges. People who are or were citizens of Sitgens, there are from many different nationalities.

It was like a place to shelter the gay people who wanted to be in the open without worries, just like you or anyone else meets in places and if they want to kiss or caress their hair, they can do it. In Sitges it seems that you could do that.

And slowly the myth of Sitges grew until it was known worldwide, but luckily in Barcelona and Spain we live in a place that is now known on a world level, they gay prides from Madrid and Barcelona are known all around the world.

I, the way I see it, feel proud of Barcelona and Madrid. Specially due to the fight of common people rather than politicians of high spheres, although they have done their bit.

Nowadays it’s an unimaginable wonder. I would never, 30 years ago, thought that we would be able to live like we do now.

You’ve told us that you’ve been working in clubs for 30 years. What does that exactly mean?

Well, I’ve worked all my life in clubs, bars, pubs, restaurants. My stage name is Satanassa because the Satanassa has been a very emblematic bar, very famous in the history of Barcelona.

It was the first place where they started to accept gay and heterosexual public, where everyone forgot their social classes, their sexual preferences and just came to dance and have fun.

It was like everythinig is allowed. The bar gave me the name and, well, it’s one of the places where Í’ve worked the longest.

But I’ve worked in restaurants like Miranda, like Dietrich, like Eterna, like… Working as public relations, welcoming people and putting on a show. People, during dinner, were enlivened with a show. This was later moved to other places in Spain and other countries, but it started here, the first restaurant with a Drag show was the Miranda in Barcelona.

I’ve also worked with clubs. I’ve worked many years with Matiné, and now, for example, is coming the ‘Circuit’ [lit. Track], which is something with a huge acceptance around the world. Tourists from all aroud the world came for 15 or 20 days by the end of July and August to live the ‘Circuit’’ here. I’ve also worked there, and God willing we’ll be there again.

I’ve also worked in clubs performing and managing entertainment, doing [lip sync ??] with the microphone. I also make thigs in the arts, right now I’m in a web series, called “The Voids”. I’m also making music videos, and with some music related thing and doing a bit of everything.

From all this, I’ve been training in different art branches that I’ve liked like dancing and performing.

So now I’m doing many things, which 15 or 20 years ago would be almost impossible that I had a leading role in a series, or that I hosted an event in Pedralbes, or that I hosted things that would really be unthinkable 20 years ago.

I’m really happy to have been able to live this and to have seen all this improvement and being able to do things that some years ago couldn’t be done.

Could you compare for us a bit how the clubs from the beginning were compared with the ones now? The music, the style, the people… and how has influenced the fact that Barcelona is one of the most popular touristic destinations in the world.

The history of night clubs has evolved a lot. Like I was saying before, it went from a few closed, dark places with only a doorbell, you’d look through the peephole and come in.

Where you could only find gay people, and on top people who were traying to avoid being seen there or being seen coming out of there. Because the gay was really repressed and had to live a double life.

Luckily, that has evolved to the point of there being may gay clubs where hetero people can come without a problem.

That you’re in a gay club having fun with friends doesn’t imply anymore that your sexual preference is gay.

That’s a huge change. A change that’s completely unrelated with a club of 30 or 35 years ago with a current one.

The musc has changed… The same way music has changed on a world level, so it has in clubs.

I need to tell you that gay clubs have always been a source of inspiration of many trends and fashions in Barcelona as well as the whole world.

In any developed country, the gay has influenced trend a lot. Luckily, ow there are many boys, like football players, that wear fashion or things that make heterosexual boys notice and want to wear dyed hair or earrings, or things.

The evolution of cubs is a bit like the evolution of the world. As I’m telling you, gays have influenced a lot of trends. Many…

I remember, when I was in the Dietrich or the Satanassa, seeing businesspeople from the whole world, those were the most famous places in Barcelona. Businesspeople from the whole world came to copy, there’s a Drag, I’m putting a Drag in my place, this kind of music is playing, house or whatever, I’ll play this kind of music, I’m going to check the decoration style. And many of them came to take the ideas and then take them back to their countries of origin to project it there.

Because I’ve later seen many similar places in… well, that were a bit inspired in Barcelona.

Satanassa, for example, was a place where you could listen from “La Bién Pagá” [lit. The Well Paid] or a song from Raffaella Carrá to listen the latest hard-hitting song. Or they could play a two-step or suddenly you were dancing to a song by ‘Xuxa’.

That kind of music, was created by Rafa, Rafael Corripio, the creator of Satanassa. That kind of music has been extrapolated not only to Barcelona and Spain, but also to many parts of the world.

Because this kind of music that now we’re dancing to something, and next comes a song that has nothing to do with it but it’s to have fun and comes another song that has nothing to do with the five before and it dislocates you, it’s popular in many places. The mixture of 80s music with some of today’s with… well, it’s crazy.

Which clubs from 30, 20 years ago would you name as the most important and what makes them different from other clubs?

The most important clubs, in Barcelona? Obviously from 30 or 35 years back, the Members, the Rys, the ‘Este Bar’ [lit. this bar], where the first gay bars with some acknowledgement.

Later came to this group the Satanassa, of which I’ve told you about, it was a gay place but open to everyone. Very ludicrous, both in decoration and in music.

And where people… coming to Barcelona and not going to the Satanassa was like not going to the ‘Sagrada Família’. There came buses from all around the world with an open mind and going there to have fun, dance, and not get shocked to see two boys or two girls together, or seeing a Drag or a trans. There were from a heavy by a lady in a fur coat besides…

People took off [maybe their prejudices]… which is what has made the world open, taking the bandage from the eyes and go have fun.

From there on, there have been other forward restaurants like the restaurant Miranda, where I also worked many years. It was the first restaurant that offered dinner with a Drag or transformist show, it was opened in Madrid too. From there other restaurants came, like the Gula-Gula, the Eterna, the Diva, or the like where I’ve also worked.

Clubs there have been a lot, some which have influenced different trends like the Salvation, the Matinee. Before, there was the club Metro and the Martin’s.

The Metro club is a classic from Barcelona where gay people from all over the world comes. It has two separate rooms, one with house music and another one with more hard-hitting music. There’s a great atmosphere.

With the crisis, the evolution of the places has… I remember that all the clubs were full. Now that has diminished, so there are clubs that organize different parties.

Instead of being the club itself every day, there’s a club, or ‘Poble Espanyo’, I’ve also been there, the towers of Ávila or the ‘Terrassa’ have been very known and famous too.

Rather than having the same style every day, it brings parties. So they bring famous events in Madrid and Barcelona, and maybe a day there’s a specific party like “Que Trabaje Rita”, the Ultrapop or on Sunday afternoon “Churros con Chocolate” in Apolo, and an endless list of parties right now.

The change is that, instead of being a place, although there still are some like the Metro club or so, there are parties certain days, that maybe are once a week or once a month, because everything has changed and evolved.

How could you compare the Drag scene in Barcelona to that in other places?

The drag scene in other places… I think that in Barcelona, while there’s a gay neighborhood, the Gayxample, everything else is much more open-minded. You can go somewhere else in Barcelona and still find Drags or transformists.

Meanwhile, in Madrid as well as other parts of the world, I think there’s a neighborhood like Queens, or Chueca in Madrid, where if you want this atmosphere and these things you go specifically there.

I think Barcelona is much more open and adapted. Anywhere you can go and find out that your hostess or the performer is a transformists or a Drag Queen. You can find that anywhere in Barcelona. I think, at least.

In the 80s and 90s AIDS began to cause a lot of chaos and caused the 70s’ sexual revolution to slow down. How did that affect Barcelona?

AIDS in Barcelona was a very heavy blow. When we reached the 80s, the image you were sold of AIDS was that, specially due to the church, what was sold to the gay public and everyone else was that AIDS was a punishment to gays for an inappropriate behavior, against nature and against family.

There was a moment where they almost convinced you of that. I have many friends that aren’t alive anymore due to AIDS. It’s a problem that’s still around, because while there’s may people who are conscious of it, many people aren’t or they are drunk or high and forget the condom.

In the 80s it was really tough. From my experience, the illness was completely unknown. When someone had AIDS they didn’t even tell you or you heard from a fried and even you didn’t want to be much around them, because you didn’t know anything.

When you saw that it was sexually transmitted and everything, you start opening your mind and getting informed and realizing it isn’t a divine punishment or anything like that. But back then it really was a crushing blow.

Anyway, now many people keep it chronic. It has been, and is, very tough. Let’s hope that the vaccine, so needed, arrives.

The acceptance of the transsexual community has changed a lot in the last few years. Do you think the transvestite community has helped the transgender community?

Yes, I think that the Drag and transformist phenomenon has helped the visibility and acknowledging of transsexuals.

I, for example, worked alone for many years and when the Drag Queen phenomenon appeared, many people joined. I could say that around 95 or 98% of all that people who became Drag Queens or transformists are nowadays transsexual. A complete woman, absolutely.

I think it was a bit of a starting point for people who were like me. But I’ve never wanted to be a woman, or I would be already. So it was a bit of a starting point to say, I can cross-dress, it’s not seen as bad, and I can take a step further. Like I said, most of the Drag Queens and transformists back then, with some exceptions, ended up being transsexuals.

From there, they moved to hormone treatments and following the process they needed to. Luckily, Spain took the step too, although it took a lot, but it was taken to allow a person to follow the steps to have a sex change.

What’s your view of Catalan independence?

That’s the million dollar question, being from Barcelona, what’s my opinion on Catalonia’s independence. I think, and don’t care what anyone thinks, that I’m Catalan, I’m from Barcelona, but I’m also Spanish.

If there was a referendum, I would vote null. Because I respect what the majority wants. If most people wants independence, I’m with them, and if most say they want to stay in Spain, I’m with them as well.

It’s not that I don’t want to take sides, it’s just the way I see it. What I don’t think is logical is that we have a terrible president, that keeps people from voting, because that’s not a democracy, that’s a dictatorship.

People can choose what they want. I always use the same silly example, which is imagine that we are sharing an apartment, we live together and have been for ten years. You want to leave the apartment and we keep you from it at all costs.

What do you do? Jump off the window? Set the apartment on fire? The logical option would be to talk about it and that’s that. So I’m in favor of people choosing. People has to choose what they want. What you can’t do, in a democracy, is to interpret the constitution or make it to benefit you.

I also consider that many people, besides Catalan independentism, the consider that we are being poorly governed. That here in Catalonia we are putting a lot of money for Spain, not that I understand much about politics, this is just what I’ve heard, and they think it’d be better to be a country with ties to Spain but independent.

Because they believe the policies that are governing us are impossible to sustain. They have taken away the education, health system… It’s incredible that we live in Spain, a country governed by corrupt people who just, from the institutions, act on their own benefit to get rich and hide the people who are still doing it.

So I think Spain and Catalonia are starting to mobilize, but well, it’s the president we have and we need to always respect him.

The changes you’ve noticed before and after the Olympic games?

The Olympic games in Barcelona 1992 were a boom. It was a change that suddenly put Barcelona in the world map.

It was… all the Catalans and the people from Barcelona gave our all in those Olympic games. We were giving the 100% on every level.

So I lived it like everyone else: with a lot of excitement, the will to do it right, to show that Barcelona could do something like that.

Everyone was very involved with the city and it was when Barcelona became really known to the whole world. There was a change, a before and after the ’92 Olympic games in Barcelona.

From then, Barcelona is worldly known.

Do you have any story that your parents or grandparents have told you of the civil war or before it?

Yes, of course. I know things about the civil war from my grandmother, my grandparents. I never got to know my grandfather on my father’s side, I knew my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandparents.

My paternal grandmother’s family, they were seven siblings, four girls and three boys. They were all shot by firing squads except she and another brother. They had to flee Madrid, I think, and went towards Barcelona.

It’s the bit of story I know on my paternal grandmother. My grandparents had to flee. They left for Guinea when my mother was two, and they didn’t come back until things were a bit better here, that was the late 60s.

My grandfather, in Equatorial Guinea, had a sort of hairdressing salon, and my parents got even married there. My father was doing the military service there, met my mother, and got married there. After some years, they came to Barcelona and here they had my brother and me. But yeah, it was a big mess.