Cristina was born José Antonio Ortiz Rodriguez, the fourth of six children, in Adra, Almeria, Andalusia. Jose became known as Joselita. From an early age Joselita showed talent in fashion design. She was never accepted because of her gender expression and was attacked and mistreated, but as a man was considered to have good physique and was awarded the title Mister Andalusia in 1989 at the age of 24. Still as José Antonio, Ortiz entered a competition on television in 1991 and won a trip to Thailand.
Ortiz had been secretly dressing as a woman, and in January 1992 she went to Madrid and began transition.
Pepe Navarro who was doing a story on trans people. He hired her, and she became famous on his television shows Esta noche cruzamos el Mississippi and La sonrisa del pelícano, and with a music single ‘Veneno pa tu piel’ (Poison in your skin). She became known as Cristina La Veneno (the poison).
There was a plan to make a film about her life, but it did not happen. She starred in two porn films: El secreto de la Veneno and La venganza de la Veneno, both 1997. She toured Spain as a singer, and in 1998 was on television in Buenos Aires for a month.
In 1999, Cristina was arrested in an insurance scam, accused of arson, after an anonymous denunciation by her Italian ex-boyfriend. Investigation uncovered other crimes and she was sentenced to three years in a men’s prison, 2003-6, where she was frequently attacked and raped, and was incommunicado to her family for many months. Her weight doubled from 60 to 122 kg, and she suffered obvious physical deterioration.
After release she appeared on television gossip shows, complaining about her treatment in prison. The Instituciones Penitenciarias denounced her statement as calumny, but later in 2006 the Socialist Workers Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (no relation) introduced a new policy of respecting a prisoner's gender and changed name, and placing trans women in women's prisons.
She was confronted by other trans activists in that she gave a bad image to the trans community. In 2010 she was challenged on television to lose the weight that she had gained in prison, and some months later had lost 35kg. But she was still suffering from bulimia and depression.
In 2013 Cristina presented her 23-year-old boyfriend. However he disappeared with her savings of €60,000. But she was hired as one of the stars of the show Que trabajo Rita. From the end of 2013 to 2014, La Veneno made stellar appearances in some of the concerts of the tour.
In October 2016 her long-promised memoirs, ¡Digo! ni puta ni santa, appeared. It was co-written with Valeria Vegas, a friend, and self-published through the Bigcartel web site. She gave the initials of many famous politicians and footballers who had had sex with her. This resulted in death threats.
In November that year she was found at home with bruises, unconscious and with a serious bruise on her head. She was rushed to hospital, put into an induced coma, and died a few days later. She was 52. Officially she was deemed to have suffered a fall after massive consumption of pills, but there are suspicions that one of the death threats was acted on. Her family attempted to re-open the case in 2017 to show that it was murder.
A plaque has been mounted in Cristina's Honour in Madrid's Parque del Oeste where she worked as a prostitute.
In 2019, Cristina's sister attempted to again re-open the case with the support of Dr Luis Frontela, a prestigious forensic doctor, who pointed out defence wounds on Cristina's hand. However the attempt was without success.
*Not the University professor.
- "Los buenos modales son Veneno". Perlas ensangrentadas. Online.
- "La Veneno pasa factura". Interviu, 24/04/2006. Online.
- "La Veneno, su infierno en la cárcel" Entrevista en “Qué me dices”, 3 de abril de 2006. Archive.
- "Prisiones denuncia a «La Veneno» por decir que sufrió abusos en la cárcel" ABC, 21 de abril de 2006. Online.
- «La Veneno, perdida por los hombres de mal vivir». El Mundo. 12 de noviembre de 2016. Online.
- CristinaOrtiz & Valeria Vegas. ¡Digo! ni puta ni santa: las memorias de la Veneno. Roi Porto DL, 2016.
- "La Veneno murió por una caída accidental". El Periodico, 10/11/2018. Online.
- " 'La Veneno' pudo ser asesinada, según un nuevo análisis forense". La Opinion de Tenerife, 09.01.2019. Online.
The ES.Wikipedia page on Adra does list Cristina among its citizens of note.