Carlos Castro – the limelight played a strange trick on him

Portugal woke up shocked on that morning of January 2011 – Carlos Castro, a renowned Portuguese journalist and public personality had been found dead in a hotel room in New York.

The details are everywhere on the Internet and in the media and we do not wish to go into further detail. The name of the man who had helped so many people in Portugal reach stardom, who both praised and criticised so many, was everywhere for the worst reasons – victim of a brutal murder.

Carlos Castro was a regular presence in the major fashion events in Portugal and whenever the Portuguese designers took to the Parisian catwalks. His presence was always a pleasant and funny one and his seat was always there on the first row. He was a very polite person and we and some journalists had the pleasure of enjoying his presence and laughing and sharing some meals with him during Moda Lisboa and Portugal Fashion. The last one was in Oporto, in October, during the Portugal Fashion shows. We were a small group of five, sitting outside a small restaurant in downtown Oporto and what struck us was the respect everyone showed for him. Taxi drivers recognised him, the ladies passing by smiled at him, some said hello and the tourists wondered why everyone smiled at this man on his 60’s. “That’s is why I love Oporto. People are always very kind to me in this city”, he said that day. But New York was the city he loved and moments before arriving at the restaurant, he told us how happy he was as he was planning a short holiday in New York, the city he loved so much.

Carlos loved the limelight, the glitter and the showbiz and New York was the place to go, to see the plays on Broadway. Born in Angola, he was a passionate writer and knew everyone in the showbiz in Portugal. One of his biggest initiatives was the Transvestite Gala, a show held every year on the 1st of December on World Aids Day and whose proceedings were destined to help the fight against AIDS. Carlos Castro has never hidden his homosexuality and was well aware of the problems faced by the gay community. He was also aware of the ups and down of transvestites, having written a book about Ruth Briden, one the major names in transvestite shows in Portugal. Theatre, painting, music, fashion were his passions. Women also played an important role in his life and his latest book was about the women he loved so much. “The women who marked in my life” is a passionate book about some of the most remarkable women of the 20th Century – Romy Schneider, iconic fado singer Amália Rodrigues, Grace Kelly, Camen Miranda… The foreword to this book was written by Maria Barroso, former Portuguese fist lady and someone he truly admired, a woman passionate about art and literature.

Carlos Castro was a renowned personality in Portugal, known for his generosity and admired and/or feared for telling and writing what crossed his mind. He had numerous friends. But he had also some enemies. Sharp and witty, some of his articles were sometimes too poignant for Portugal. He could praise or sharply criticise someone as he knew well the life of the Portuguese social elite. In recent years his pen was not that sharp and we remember telling him: “You are becoming too soft”. His reply was “I am getting tired, I just want to write about the things I am passionate about. I want to focus on the books I am writing about the women I admire”, he said one day before taking the train from Lisbon to Oporto. We now remember that train journey, four journalists sharing a table on a train, Carlos Castro fascinated by his new gadget – an iPhone he was still learning how to work with. Given his privileged liaisons in all corners of Portuguese society he was often contacted by people aspiring stardom. “I have all these young people coming at me but I have to say no. I do not have the stamina anymore”, he once told me. “I can’t make it to clubs until late in the night. I do not have the patience for that.” But sometimes, the very same man who wrote the book “Crowded Solitude”, did not resist the appeal of love.

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