14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Santiago de Cuba, 3 April 2017 — Juan Antonio Vargas Lefebre inspires exclamations of surprise among Santiago de Cuba’s inhabitants and visitors. At 72 and living in the Chicharrones neighborhood, the well-known fakir sets up in the first hours of the day in Enramadas Street and exhibits his circus talents so that people will leave him some tips and many compliments.
Nails, bicycle spokes, pens and pencils, are some of the objects that Vargas puts in his right nostril. “The factory defect is on that side,” he says jokingly to those who inquire about his unusual physical ability.
“It rains, there’s thunder or lightening, every day comes with something new,” says a clerk at La California store, who given her proximity is a frequent spectator of the exploits of this well-known local fakir. “Sometimes he makes me nervous because the nails he puts in his nose are quite long,” she says.
Vargas Lefebre is undaunted and boasts that he has traveled “all over Cuba” and every year presents his street performance at the Rancho Boyero Fair in Havana
However, Vargas Lefebre is undaunted and boasts that he has traveled “all over Cuba” and every year presents his street performance at the Rancho Boyeros Fair in Havana. “I live on the tips they give me, but my dream is for someone to look at this old man and help me become a real circus performer,” he concludes.
Jose Antonio Vargas says he has “an iron constitution,” does not drink or smoke and says his best artistic numbers are “with sharp sabers,” but he can’t perform them on the street as the police expressly forbid it. “They are considered weapons, but I look for an out of the way place where I can do it,” he confesses.
He is considered the only “famous” fakir in all of Cuba and acknowledges that he is “without money, but without rival.” He also dances, sings and hums musical notes while pounding with a hammer on his nose as if it were a piece of wood. The passing tourists leave him with some coins, which are his main sustenance.
“Don’t try this at home,” he advises a child watching him while putting the handle of a mirror through his infinite nostril.