Ask a Mexican
Editor’s Note: This week’s edition of ¡Ask a Mexican! features an incredibly well-researched answer to a question about a famous claim involving shows in Tijuana, women and a certain animal. Viewer discretion is advised, and you probably should avoid reading this at work, unless your employer is really, really cool. However, you should definitely NOT skip this column; you’ll learn something. Actually, you’ll learn a lot. Enjoy!
Dear Mexican: I’ve heard that the Tijuana donkey show featuring a female whore is not real, other than the fact that they bring out a donkey and do some simulation for people who are drunk.
Dear Gabacho: You’re right—and after months of research, the Mexican can confirm the full history of donkey shows, the supposed borderlands specialty in which women have sex with donkeys before a live, paying audience.
Not only are they not a thing in Tijuana (or Juarez or Acapulco or anywhere in Mexico frequented by tourists); they’re actually a wholesale gabacho invention that says more about how America projects its fevered perversions onto Mexicans and Mexico than anything about Mexicans themselves.
None of the Tijuana Bibles, the infamous X-rated comics of the Great Depression that showed all sorts of depredations, make any mention of such shows south of the border. (The excellent 1997 anthology Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America’s Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s, even points out that the foul funnies got their name not because they were made in Mexico, but “as a gleefully sacrilegious pre-NAFTA slur against Mexicans.”) A published account of donkey sex shows in Mexico doesn’t pop up until 1975, in the book Binding With Briars: Sex and Sin in the Catholic Church. Before that, mentions of “donkey shows” in newspapers, books or magazines were exactly that: donkeys on display at county fairs, and nothing else.
But after porn star Linda Lovelace claimed her then-husband was going to force her to get “fucked by a donkey in Juarez, Mexico” in her 1980 memoir Ordeal, the act quickly seeped into mainstream American culture. Three years later, the search for a donkey show in Tijuana was a plot point in the Tom Cruise film Losin’ It; by the mid-1980s, a pioneering ska band called themselves The Donkey Show—based out of San Diego, no less.
Really, the biggest culprit in spreading the donkey-show myth is Hollywood—in the past decade alone, there’s been mention of the act in at least a dozen high-profile projects, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to Two and a Half Men and more. This proves once again that Hollywood’s stereotyping of Mexicans hasn’t changed in a century—but what else do you expect from screenwriters (notwithstanding the awesome writers at the new ABC sitcom Cristela, and the upcoming Fox cartoon, Bordertown, for which I’m a consultant) who know Mexicans mostly as their nannies, car washers, gardeners, cooks and the janitors in their offices?
Are there sex shows between humans and animals in Mexico? I’m sure there are, just like there are in the United States—in fact, the earliest account I could find of people paying to see a woman-donkey coupling is in the November 1915 issue of the St. Louis-based medical journal The Urologic and Cutaneous Review, in which a doctor recalled a case 25 years earlier: Spectators at such a show (including “a judge, sons of a social reformer, and a secretary of a girls’ aid society”) were criminally tried after a woman died during the copulation. But leave it to gabachos to stereotype such debauchery as being as exclusively Mexican as the Aztec pyramids and a corrupt government. Pinche gabachos …