The Story of the Real Greek Lover Ends in Murder

Elias Fanouris

Elias Fanouris was a legendary figure of a long-gone era. He was the epitome of ”kamaki,” the Greek lover who used to seduce foreign women visiting Greece for the sea, the sun, and a brief summer affair. Fanouris was found dead in the ashes of his home in the Agios Fanourios neighborhood of Rhodes on Friday the 13th at 1:30 a.m. He was 64 years old.

The police and fire department commented that all evidence lead to suspicions of arson, while the neighbors said that in his last days the victim had loud arguments with someone through Skype. The police investigation led to Chalikidiki, where local police arrested a 35-year-old Bulgarian man and a 37-year-old Bulgarian woman. According to police reports, the couple was living in Rhodes and the Bulgarian woman had an affair with Fanouris, who was trying to convince her to leave her partner. The Bulgarian man had many arguments with the 64-year-old man and allegedly, he confessed that on the fatal night he went to Fanouris‘ house in order to scare him off, but lost control and murdered him. Chalkidiki Police will transfer the couple to Rhodes for further interrogation.

Profile of the Greek “kamaki” (lover)…..

The kamaki — best described in English as a harpoon-like lover who hooks his bait and reels her in — reigned the beaches, discotheques, bars, and other holiday spots in the 70s and 80s. After the fall of the 1974 dictatorship, the number of tourists visiting Greece grew rapidly as did the number of eager young men who were looking for sex and, in many cases, money from lonely women spending their holidays in Greece. The Greek kamaki was found mainly on the islands and seaside towns. The young men practicing the art were mostly sexually frustrated individuals who grew up in very conservative rural environments where sex before marriage was forbidden for women. These men found an outlet for this desire in the large numbers of women from all over the world who vacationed in Greece every year. For many of these women, the myth of the Greek lover was an attraction equal to visiting the Parthenon.

The Greek lover who flourished in the 70s and 80s was mainly from the lower social strata. His age ranged between 18 and 35. He had his own code of conduct and dress. His English was poor, but he proclaimed that he spoke the international language of love fluently. His shirt was wide open, showing his chest proudly which was usually hairy and decorated with a gold chain. He fashioned longish hair and wore tight pants to exhibit his manhood. A kamaki had his own territory and usually operated in gang-like groups. Once he marked his target, no other man was allowed to approach the woman. His tactic would be to promise her the earth and moon and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was committed to his trade and most of the time a successful seducer. Many Greek 80s comedies show the Greek kamaki in action.

In 2010, director Nikos Mistriotis and journalist-script writer Maria Koufopoulou created a documentary called ”Colossi of Love,” the title  taken from the ancient statue of Colossus in the port of Rhodes. The documentary is shot on the island and focuses on four legendary kamaki men, who reminisce and recount their love adventures from the golden days of kamaki. Elias Fanouris, is the star with the nickname “Bruno” and claims to have started this art of seducing women in 1967-1968, bedding 4,500 women since. He also claims to still be an active kamaki, although he admits the women who fall for him now are older. Next, there is 51-year-old Yannis, the owner of “Highway” — a famous discotheque of the time — who has a family with a Finnish woman. Finally, there is George, 41, who is married to a Danish stripper, and 44-year-old Takis who married a woman from Norway. “Colossi of Love” won Best Documentary Award at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival in 2010 and was shown at the Documentary Festival of Thessaloniki in 2012.

The kamaki generation disappeared somewhere in the late 80s as Greece became more cosmopolitan and less conservative. The attitude towards sex had since changed and Greece was now part of the European Union. The myth of the Greek lover lost its sheen as many female tourists realized that kamaki was somewhat of a sport. Many Greek lovers ended up marrying foreign women, settling down in their hometowns, while others followed their foreign wives abroad seeking a better life.

Elias Fanouris continued to live the life he knew, surrounded by women. In the last years of his life he was hanging out with people who were prostituting themselves in his neighborhood. There are rumors that he was trying to whisk the Bulgarian woman away from her partner in order to procure her. Some might say he stayed true to his role until the violent end.


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