Queer Places:
Palacio de Iturbide, Av Francisco I. Madero 17, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Agustin J. Fink (July 7, 1901 - May 1, 1944) was a film producer and director.

He was born in Celaya, Guanajuato, on July 7, 1901 and died in Mexico City on May 1, 1944. Agustin Fink, whose father was German, had been educated as a civil engineer at a German academy in Mexico before working as a vice consul of Argentina in Chicago.

In the 1930s in Mexico, physicians, teachers, accountants, journalists and other professionals stood to lose more than their clientele if exposed as homosexual in the press, as such exposure would result in banishment to the Islas Marıas Penal colony. Poet Salvador Novo and playwright Xavier Villaurrutia sought to join other Mexican sexiles in the United States or Europe, including artists José Mojica, Ramón Novarro, Roberto Montenegro, Agustın J. Fink and Enrique Asunsolo, or scientists studying abroad, like Elías Nandino and Raoul Fournier. Seeking ‘to avoid a fate as a cook, waiter, or dishwasher in New York’, Villaurrutia accepted a one-year fellowship at Yale in 1935–36, while a frantic Novo wrote to Federico García Lorca, asking him to procure him lodgings in Madrid.

From 1933 Fink started in the Hollywood film industry. Returning to Mexico in 1939, he participated as producer of the film La canción del milagro (Dir. Rolando Aguilar). In 1941 he assumed the management of the production company Films Mundiales, participating as an associate producer for this company. During the three years that Agustín J. Fink held the management of Films Mundiales, he stood out for the great love he had for cinematography, and for having carried out an intense campaign for the artistic and technical improvement of the Mexican film industry. In the opinion of Margarita de Orellana, the great cultural movement that was lived in the country in those years, prompted all its participants to look for a Mexican image also in the cinema and in Films Mundiales began the good Mexican cinema.

Fink brought together great figures of national literature around the film industry such as Xavier Villaurrutia, Mauricio Magdaleno, José Revueltas, Celestino Gorostiza, Salvador Novo and Neftalí Beltrán, among others; he collaborated with directors of the stature of Emilio Indio Fernández, Julio Bracho, Chano Urueta and Fernando de Fuentes. In this way, Agustín J. Fink, in addition to having consolidated the country's film industry, participated in the flourishing of the so-called golden age of national cinema.

The three main themes in Xavier Villaurrutia's work—love, night, and death—are born from the testimony of the senses, but they become anguished and tragic when intelligence has bared them. His love for other men and anguish for the need to keep it hidden is clearly expressed in his "Nocturnos" (Nocturnes), particularly "Nocturno de los Angeles" (Nocturne of the Angels). In an essay entitled "Memoir" that circulated in Spanish in Mexico but has only been published in English translation in the collection Now the Volcano: An Anthology of Latin American Gay Literature (1979), Salvador Novo reveals that the individual to whom "Noctumo de los Angeles" is dedicated, Agustin Fink, was a particular favorite among gays because of his physical attributes. In Novo's memoirs he raves about Agustin Fink. Novo explains that Ignacio Moctezuma, whom he describes as a "congressman," lived in the Hotel Iturbide and had as a lover a young athlete of German descent, Agustin Fink, whose mammoth cock only Nacho Moctezuma himself could boast of being able to accommodate. The excerpt of the memoir concludes, of course with Novo olympically accommodating Agustin Fink, and thus beating Moctezuma at his own game.

Agustín J. Fink was a character from the so-called "golden age" of Mexican cinema, that is, the one favored by advantages resulting from World War II (1941-1945). Those who knew Fink often refer to him as a tenacious, enterprising and intelligent man. It was he who mainly promoted the careers of the directors Emilio Indio Fernández and Julio Bracho until they were seen as the two greatest revelations of the time in the field of direction; in addition, among other things, it was Fink who incorporated the Mexican Hollywood actress Dolores del Río into the national cinema.

If condominiums and apartments attracted middle-class gays, wealthier men were seduced by the social possibilities large manses afforded them. Located in quaint, cobblestoned, suburban colonial towns like San Angel and Coyoacan, manses enabled cabinet members and wealthy professionals to lead anonymous, quiet lives in homes set back amid vast walled gardens. Luis Montes de Oca, Minister of Revenue, and Genaro Estrada, Minister of Foreign Affairs, lived in compounds where they hosted pool parties for handsome gay men, notably actors and film producers Ramón Novarro, José Mojica, Felipe Subervielle and Agustin J. Fink. Estrada’s home held prized homoerotic objets, like a four-poster bed with life-size male statues – replicas of the famed Medici tombs in Florence. Montes de Oca constantly remodelled his colonial manse, knocking down walls to exhibit his antiques better. Living with a single male servant, Montes de Oca regarded himself as the guardian of San Angel, spurring his neighbours to maintain the neighbourhood’s architectural unity. Genaro Estrada’s home in Las Lomas was featured in society magazine Social, as a backdrop to photographs depicting the wife he married prior to accepting a cabinet post, a tactic that Jaime Torres Bodet later emulated when he accepted his first ministerial appointment in 1943. Estrada’s mother and sisters lived in his large home with his wife and daughter. Estrada did not spend much time at home, preferring instead to hang out in restaurants, cafes and bookstores, or in the homes of gay couples like Antonio Adalid Pradel and Antonio Dodero. After a day of work, he would meet friends to discuss books and politics at Robredo’s bookstore, then dine at Prendes, a Spanish restaurant where he hosted intimate dinners, before retiring home. Estrada – who as a result of his obesity, suffered from high-blood-pressure – spent most weekends in Cuernavaca, whose lower elevation benefited his weak heart. There, he would invite male friends to accompany him, among them exiled Spanish intellectual José Moreno Villa.

During the 1930s Fink was the agent of the Mexican tenor José Mojica, who made the first and most of his career as a heartthrob for the Spanish (Hispanic) cinema of Fox in Hollywood. Mojica starred in only two Mexican films: El capitán aventurero (Dir. Arcady Boytler, 1938) and La canción del milagro (Dir. Rolando Aguilar, 1939) with which Fink began as a producer with his firm Promex S. A.

In 1939 a group of French capitalists living in Mexico and shareholders of the warehouses El Palacio de Hierro, financed the film firm Films Mundiales and put Fink in charge of it associated with the Souberville brothers, Felipe and Diane (wife of the Catalan set designer Manuel Fontalls). The group of French capitalists behind Films Mundiales was formed by: Hipólito Signoret (who had already participated in the production of Vámonos con Pancho Villa (Dir. Fernando de Fuentes, 1935), Mayaux, Julio Lacaud and Trouyet. The first Film Mundial film that Agustín J. Fink produced was ¡Ay que tiempos señor don Simón! (Dir. Julio Bracho, 1939). During his work within the management of Film Mundiales, highly successful films were produced, such as: Ay, qué tiempos, señor Don Simón! (Dir. Julio Bracho, 1941); The Virgin Who Forged a Homeland (Dir. Julio Bracho, 1941); La gallina clueca (Dir. Fernando de Fuentes, 1941); The Story of a Great Love (Dir. Julio Bracho, 1942); Flor Silvestre (Dir. Emilio Indio Fernández, 1943); María Candelaria (Dir. Emilio Indio Fernández, 1943) and La corte del faraón (Dir. Julio Bracho, 1943).

In 1943 he wrote together with David T. Bamberg –better known as Fu Manchu, the famous illusionist of the time–, the plot of the film The Spectre of the Bride produced by World Films and starring Fu Manchu.


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