The Myth of the ‘Tijuana Donkey Show’ and the Asses that Spread it

Got a spicy question about Mexicans?
Letters will be edited for clarity cabrones—unless you’re a racist pendejo. And include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we’ll make one up for you!

Dear Mexican:

I’ve heard that the Tijuana donkey show featuring a female whore is not real other than the fact that they do bring out a donkey and do some simulation for people who are drunk.

—Down-Low Loco

Dear Gabacho:

You’re right. And after months of research, the Mexican can confirm the full history of donkey shows, the supposed borderlands specialty in which women have sex with donkeys before a live, paying audience. Not only are they not a thing in Tijuana (or Juarez or Acapulco or anywhere in Mexico frequented by tourists), they’re actually a wholesale gabacho invention that says more about how America projects its fevered perversions onto Mexicans and Mexico than anything about Mexicans themselves. None of the Tijuana Bibles, the infamous X-rated comics of the Great Depression that showed all sorts of depredations, make any mention of such shows south of the border (the excellent 1997 anthology, Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America’s Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s, even points out that the foul funnies got their name not because they were made in Mexico but “as a gleefully sacrilegious pre-NAFTA slur against Mexicans”). The earliest published account even mentioning donkey sex shows in Mexico doesn’t pop up until 1975, in the book Binding with Briars: Sex and Sin in the Catholic Church. Before that, mentions of “donkey shows” in newspapers, books, or magazines were exactly that: donkeys on display at county fairs, and nothing else.

But after porn star Linda Lovelace claimed her then-husband was going to force her to get “fucked by a donkey in Juarez, Mexico” in her 1980 memoir, Ordeal, the act quickly seeped into mainstream American culture. Three years later, the search for a donkey show in Tijuana is a plot point in the Tom Cruise film, Losin’ It; by the mid-1980s, a pioneering ska band called themselves The Donkey Show—based out of San Diego, no less. Really, the biggest culprit in spreading the donkey show myth is Hollywood—in the past decade alone, there’s been mention of the act in at least a dozen high-profile projects, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to Two-and-a-Half Men and more. This proves once again that Hollywood’s stereotyping of Mexicans haven’t changed in a century—but what else do you expect from screenwriters (notwithstanding the awesome writers at the new ABC sitcom Cristela and the upcoming FOX cartoon, Bordertown, for which I’m a consultant) who know Mexicans mostly as their nannies, car washers, gardeners, cooks, and the janitors in their offices?

Are there sex shows between humans and animals in Mexico? I’m sure there are, just like there are in the United States—in fact, the earliest account I could find of people paying to see a woman-donkey coupling is in the November 1915 issue of the St. Louis-based medical journal The Urologic and Cutaneous Review, in which a doctor recalled a case 25 years earlier where spectators at such a show (including “a judge, sons of a social reformer, and a secretary of a girl’s aid society”) were criminally tried after a woman died during the copulation. But leave it to gabachos to stereotype such debauchery as being as exclusively Mexican as the Aztec pyramids and a corrupt government. Pinche gabachos