MAGAZINES

Animals in Houston Show May Not​ Get the Point but the Matadors Will

By Martin Waldron

February 4, 1966

Houston, February 3 - Some liquor stores here this week experienced mild runs on tequila as Houston prepared for a weekend of bullfights.  No scheduled event in Texas is complete unless it is preceded by several cocktail parties, if possible, are designed to fit the event.

 

Marguerites, a mixture of lime juice, tequila and cointreau, served in a glass with salt on the edge, will be served at many pre-fight functions.

 

The bullfights, widely ballyhooed in Texas as the first ever held in the United States, will be at the Houston Astrodome, the $45 million air-conditioned ball park that, in itself, is something of a wonder.

 

It is illegal to fight bulls in Texas.  And this led to some maneuvering by the two top law enforcement officials involved -- Houston's District Attorney, Frank Briscoe, and the State Attorney General, Waggoner Carr.  Briscoe is reported to be ready to run for Congress, and Carr already has announced for the United States Senate.

 

On Jan. 14, Briscoe, saying he felt the bullfights might violate state law, asked Carr to tell him what he should do.  "In the absence of a clear opinion from your office, we will assume that such bloodless bullfight (as these are supposed to be) is not violative of the Texas penal code," Briscoe wrote to Carr.

 

Replied Carr: "Your letter is vague."  He said he could see no reason for his office to be dragged in when the District Attorney had plenty authority.  "We have every confidence that your office... will handle this local matter in your usual able manner."

 

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A STATE judge finally took the bull by the horns and ruled that bullfighting in Portuguese style -- in which the animal is not supposed to be killed or wounded -- is really not a bullfight but close to a ballet between man and beast.  Such exhibitions of footwork and cape-waving are not a violation of law so long as the bulls are not injured.

 

To make sure that no blood is drawn, the bulls will be covered in part by Styrofoam so that the banderillas -- big darts that are thrust into the necks and backs of the bulls in Spanish bullfights -- will not touch the animals.

 

Eight matadors and 22 bulls have been imported for the spectacle.  The daily newspapers have been busy educating readers on some of the subtleties of bullfighting, such as that the worth of the matador can be judged only on left-handed passes.

Large crowds are expected to attend the performances tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.  Today it took more than 30 minutes to get to the head of the line to buy tickets.

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ONE goring already has taken place.  While the bulls were being unloaded into a special corral alongside the stadium.  Tito Palacios, an apprentice bullfighter, was trapped in a chute with a black bull that tossed him several times.  Palacios escaped with his life when Jose Gomez, vice president of International Bullfights, Inc., which is promoting the fights, distracted the animal.  Palacios is recovering in a hospital.

The matadors scheduled to take part in the "ballet" exhibition include Paco Camino, 25 years old, of Spain, described as the most technically accomplished bullfighter in the world today,and Jaime Bravo of Mexico.