Tijuana Donkey Show

Myth and reality

Tijuana Donkey Show

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A lot has been said about the world famous Tijuana Donkey Show, be it on tv, movies, mouth to mouth, its just one of those urban legends that pop up every time people have a casual conversation about "that one wild night they had in Tijuana". We can't deny it, its part of that "dark legend" that keeps haunting the famous border town.

So there's all this talk about the donkey show, but have you ever met someone that's actually been to one of those? Would somebody actually be willing to participate on something like that? What about the implications of this regarding animal rights? Is this something that people actually want to see? the truth might be a little more surprising than you think.

We took it upon ourselves to go and find this so called donkey show, we needed to find proof that this exists. Last Friday, we crossed the border pretending to be tourists looking for the mythical spectacle.

First stop, the taxi cabs right next to the border. The look on their faces was priceless, at least with the young drivers, older guys just started laughing and one of them agreed to talk to us about it. He said that it's not a sure thing but a good place to start would be on downtown, first street to be exact. That`s where you find all sorts of strip clubs and seedy bars. We got in the cab as he agreed to take us there and he said that it`s been a while since somebody asked him about it, but that he actually didn't know how to get to one of those or if they even exist, that he only heard stories about it. If those were true it was a while back.

the sun was going down as we arrived downtown, you could hear music, see the girls outside the bars soliciting, people coming from all over the place. I'll tell you one thing, tourism is not dead at all, business is good. Anyway, once we got there we had to start looking for clues or hints about where this show might be. Now we couldn't just go to any random person and ask them that, so we visited a friend of mine that works at a gentleman's club called Hong Kong and we asked him if he knew anything or heard anything about it. He referred us to a guy called "Don Vicente", he sells loose cigarettes and other "stuff" in an alley close by.

At first this guy was hesitant to talk to us, but after buying a pack of smokes and buying him a beer he agreed to talk to us for a bit.

"Donkey shows don't exist anymore, at least not in the city, they do this outside of town in ranches for tourists". We asked him what where could we find the people that make this happen but he was reluctant about it and finally dropped the subject completely. Another dead end.

We walked up the street to Revolución Avenue, downtown's main street, this is where you find the donkeys painted like zebras or "zonkeys" as the locals call them. You can usually take pictures with them so we approached one of the guys that does this for a living. His name was Ramón and he took a little offense on the question itself "we don't do that kind of stuff, we are serious business men, we do get that question asked a lot though. But I can't help you with this". This wasn't looking good.

A friend of mine once took on this quest, something about a guy near a bar called "El Farolito" that used to yell "come see the donkey show" and took you to an undisclosed bar in a back alley. He took it upon himself to look for the guy but never found him. We continued our search but after a lot of half answers and dirty looks we decided to call it quits around 3 am.

Searching on the internet we did find some pretty interesting articles, people have tried to find this show before with the same results, nobody knows if its real or not. 10/4 magazine has a pretty interesting article about it, they contacted historian Josué Beltrán, he talks about a place called "Molino Rojo" which used to be this bar where all sorts of sexual themed acts occurred during the 20's to attract tourism. Other articles talk about it being a tourist trap where they just got people really drunk and the show never came, the only thing that happened was that their money was gone in a minute, others speak of people dressing up as donkeys to perform sex shows on a stage, but it's all speculation.

So the donkey show maybe existed during the prohibition era and the word spread mouth to mouth, but apparently it doesn't anymore, it's just another part of the Tijuana dark legend that probably never be erased, but that's ok, it adds some mystery to the city. What do you think? let us know in the comments or on the facebook page.

jorge.guevara@sandiegored.com

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