Helena Carratalà was born in Barcelona, Spain on 13 July 1951. Her father, Ernesto Carratalà, was a young university professor and her mother, Francisca Rey, was a fiery Spanish beauty who loved the arts. She received a singular education from her parents: she was taught how to sip champagne without smearing her lipstick while reading Sartre and the biographies of great men and women. "My mother gave me art and passion. My father believed that in order for me to be truly liberated, I must think like a man. So I feel like a woman but I think like a man." Her love for the exotic was developed even in her girlhood. "When I was a teenager, my father worked in Africa. My brother and I studied in a public school where I was the only white girl.