Let Me Entertain You: Boris Izaguirre in London

Move over Graham Norton. He's in town for one night only, and he's bound to cause quite a splash. Award-winning novelist, beloved TV presenter, honorary Spaniard and gay icon Boris Izaguirre is much more than a household name for Spain. Whether writing the script or in front of the camera, Boris has contributed to some of the country’s most popular television productions since the mid-1990s. Soon to host the 2012/13 Air Europa LUKAS Awards, Latino Life delves into the history of this extraordinary TV personality to see what lies beneath the glamorous veneer.
Jennifer Hyde

An early start

Boris was born in Caracas in 1965, the son of the former director of the ‘Cinemáteca Nacional de Venezuela’, and a ballerina. He was the second of three children.

At just sixteen years old, Boris began to write for ‘El Nacional’, arguably Caracas’s most important daily newspaper. His society column, ‘Animal de frivolidades’, was such a success that Boris chose not to attend University –as he has explained in several interviews, he learnt on the job.

Yet it was not as a journalist, but as a scriptwriter that Boris broke into Spanish media. In 1989 he co-wrote with José Ignacio Cabrujas the scripts for two telenovelas, ‘Rubí rebelde’ and ‘La dama de rosa’. Both were well-received by Venezuelan audiences and went on to be broadcast on Spansh television. With some name for himself now established on the other side of the Atlantic, Boris made the bold move to live in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Here, he continued to co-write scripts for television, such as ‘Inocente’ and ‘El súper’.



Hitting the screens

Thanks to his vivacious personality, it was not long before Boris emerged from behind the scenes and found himself on camera. After a few appearances in shows such as ‘La noche por delante’ and ‘Moros y cristianos’ for Telecinco, he was approached by director/presenter Javier Sardá to help with the show ‘Crónicas marcianas.’ It cannot be said that Boris did not make the most of this opportunity. Before long, he had rendered the program a cult show par excellence, thanks to the not-so-gentle touches of sex and scandal that he brought to the stage. He co-presented the show from 1999 until it was axed in 2005, and it was during this period that his reputation began to be forged.

Over the following years he contributed to the writing and hosting of several shows including ‘Channel no. 4’, ‘La tribu’ and ‘El debate.’ More famously, he featured as a judge on Televisión española’s ‘¡Mira quién baila!’ (2008 and 2010), a similar show to Britain’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’ Boris will go on in 2013 to judge on the perhaps unexpected but nevertheless entertaining new take on the show, ‘¡Mira quién salta!’, the dancefloor this time replaced by none other than a trampoline.

His appearance on ‘¡Mira quién salta!’ sealed Boris’s fame throughout Spain. But it was his appearance as host on ‘Miss Venezuela’ in 2009 that brought him to the attention of Latin American audiences – especially those of his native Venezuela – and also to the United States, where the show was aired on Univision. He went on to host his homeland’s most prestigious beauty pageant again in 2010, and in 2012 was asked to feature on the show as head judge. It has been rumoured that he will return yet again in 2013.

A gay icon is born

Following his initial success with ‘Miss Venezuela’, Boris continued in the same vein, but this time with a twist - in 2009 he hosted the ‘Gala Drag Queen’ at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria His presence on such shows confirmed Boris’s reputation as ‘gay icon’, a reputation which he both contests and embraces, as discussed in his excellent recent article for ‘El Huffington Post’, ‘Hola, soy icono gay.

It is not just in the domains of television and journalism that Boris has tried his hand at writing. In fact, he published his first novel, ‘El vuelo de los avestruces’ (‘The Flight of the Ostrich’) at the tender age of 26, whilst still living in Venezuela. He has continued to write novels, the most successful of which – ‘Villa Diamante’ – was shortlisted for the Premio Planeta in 2007.

Journalists and critics have frequently remarked that Boris’s fictional and essay works reveal an intricately complex, profoundly thoughtful and sometimes skeptical outlook on life, perhaps an unexpected discovery beneath the glossy exterior of this outrageous TV personality.

Homosexuality, Spain, and an uphill struggle

Yet some have attributed Boris’s exaggeratedly ‘fabulous’ on-air character to a desire to bring homosexuality into the daily lives and homes of individuals all over Spain. In a country so traditionally hostile towards homosexuality, Boris’s larger-than-life flamboyance, passion for all things fashion, and uncompromisingly open attitude towards sex and sexuality are not mere frivolous touches to an on-screen persona.

Boris bravely familiarized the Spanish public with homosexuality. He was amongst the first to enjoy the legalization of homosexual marriage in Spain, and has been happily married to his longtime boyfriend Rubén Nogueira since February 2006. He has supported Spain’s most popular gay magazine, ‘Zero’, with countless articles. These active contributions to the struggle for the acceptance of homosexuality in Spain are both brave and honourable, and prove that a steely strength lies beneath Boris’s glittering exterior.

Boris has openly told his readers at ‘El Huffington Post’ that when he ‘came out’ to his father in his teenage years, he was met with the blunt reply “¡Si siempre lo hemos sabido!” (“As if we hadn’t known all along!”) It would seem that even at that young age, Boris already possessed the same captivating presence and palpable energy that has carved out the way for so strong a character in Spain’s media. Adore or abhor his camp quips, it cannot be denied that Boris has done an awful lot to open the minds of the Latino public to homosexuality. And, of course, to keep audiences all over the Latin world well and truly entertained.

Click here to read Boris's article for El Huffington Post:

Click here For a full array of Boris's sartorial escapades - not for the faint-hearted or conservatively-dressed!