REPÚBLICA REVIEW | THE LAST PLAYBOY: THE HIGH LIFE OF PORFIRIO RUBIROSA
Before most of the world even had an idea what a Dominican was, there was one Dominican who wooed, seduced and conquered some of the richest and most famous women on the planet. His name was Porfirio Rubirosa but he was famously known simply as Rubi. His dalliances and marriages to so many leading ladies and wealthy heiresses made him a permanent fixture of the tabloid newspapers of the day. It was in many ways poetic justice that his life came to an abrupt end in much the same manner that is was lived, fast and furious. “The Last Playboy: The High Life of Porfirio Rubirosa” by Shawn Levy is an entertaining and at times quite salacious book that brings the infamous Latin lothario to life.
Porfirio Rubirosa was born in 1909 in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic but moved to Paris at an early age due to his father’s appointment as the ambassador to France. He was by all accounts a sub par student but was an accomplished sportsman who excelled in boxing, polo and racecar driving. Even though he spoke five languages (fluent in three) and lived the life of the international jet set he was in many ways quintessentially Dominican.
His charm, refinement and cunning landed him marriages to such woman as Woolworth fortune heiress Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke, the American Tobacco heiress. He even had the balls to court and subsequently marry Dominican dictator Trujillo’s only daughter, Flor de Oro. That stunt almost got him killed but he would eventually become closely aligned with the Trujillo government even though he fell in and out of favor with the tyrannous Trujillo. Porfirio Rubirosa amassed quite a fortune from his selective and usually short marriages. He also had steamy affairs with Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rita Hayworth and Eartha Kitt among many many others. Not to mention that he was friends with JFK, King Faruk of Egypt and ran with the Rat Pack.
“The Last Playboy” does not deal as much with some of the more serious aspects of Rubirosa’s life such as his alleged participation in the kidnappings and murders of opponents of the Trujillo regime but is nonetheless an eye-opening and fascinating look at the life of a man who was famous the world over for his way with the ladies. It is only apt that I end this review with Shawn Levy’s hilarious and on the money definition of a tiguerue. After all Rubirosa was the ultimate tiguere. Big Pimpin’ indeed!!!
“Tiger: tigre in Spanish, tiguere in the local argot, in which the word came to represent the essential defining characteristic of the Dominican alpha male. The Dominican tiguere was, like the ideal male in all Latin cultures, profoundly masculine – macho, in the Castilian – but had dimensions unique, perhaps, to the Creole culture of Hispaniola. He was handsome, graceful, strong, and well-presented, possessed of a deep-seated vanity that allowed him the luxury of niceties of character and appearance that might otherwise hint at femininity. He could move with sensuality or violence; he was fast, fearless, fortunate. A tiguere emerged well from nearly any situation that confronted him, twisted any misfortune to an asset, spun a happy ending of some sort out of the most outrageously poor circumstances; he was able, being feline, to climb to unlikely heights and, should he fall, always landed, being feline, on his feet. The tiguere bore the savor of low origins and high aspirations, as well as a certain ruthless ambition that barred no means of achieving his ends; violence, treachery, lies, shamelessness, daring, and, especially, the use of women as tools of social mobility. A tiguere always married to advantage.”