El Pescador speaks

The supporting players in the drama talk of love, licking and Kato Kaelin.

By Daryl Lindsey
Published April 28, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Thursday's best Elian sound bites come from a damning profile of supporting cast member Donato Dalrymple in the Washington Post. It's hard to dismiss it as a hit piece, since El Pescador, as the fisherman turned housecleaner is now known, did a fine job of pointing out his own shortcomings himself.

"Did you know Elian liked to lick my face?" Dalrymple asked reporter Michael Leahy in his Georgetown hotel room, while showing off the clothes he had just bought at Banana Republic for an appearance on "Rivera Live." Apparently Elian was given to imitating the big cats in "The Lion King," who like to lick the faces of the people they admire. "You know, I've never felt important in my life. But I felt like the most important man in the world that night," the cleaner told Leahy.

With his commentary flowing freer than booze in a Vegas casino, Dalrymple also revealed that cousin Marisleysis admitted (privately, at least) that the reunion photo between Elian and his father was probably the real McCoy. Catching his slip, Dalrymple backpedaled: "God, I really hope the family doesn't flag me for talking about this and get annoyed."

One person annoyed at Dalrymple is his cousin, Sam Ciancio, who helped him rescue the boy Thanksgiving Day. Ciancio claims Dalrymple believed Elian should be returned to his father until the Miami relatives and their handlers got to him, and he dismisses his cousin as "a phony, a liar, a Kato Kaelin type -- a desperate man looking for publicity." Ouch.

A close runner-up for Elian quote of the day is this snippet from the psychiatrist's report on the boy filed in court by the federal government. "His feelings for Marisleysis are similar to the romantic feelings of a schoolboy for his teacher or a wished-for girlfriend," Dr. Paulina Kernberg wrote. So much for the government's commitment to protect the boy's privacy now that he's holed up at the Wye plantation with his father.

Daryl Lindsey

Daryl Lindsey is associate editor of Salon News and an Arthur Burns fellow. He currently lives in Berlin and writes for Salon and Die Welt.

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