Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pride Month Profile: Ricky Martin

ricky martin.jpg

Enrique Martin Morales (1971-  )
Singer, actor, author

A precocious Puerto Rican lad, Ricky Martin began acting in television commercials at the age of nine. At thirteen he talked his way into a boy Band with interchangeable members, Menudo; rather like the American band of the 1960s, the Monkees, it was a pure media creation. All the boys had to do was show up and sing what was put before them.

Boy bands suffer the universal problem of growing up, and out of the pre-pubescent sweet spot that makes their girl fans swoon. At 17, Martin opted out, taking a job in Mexico with a telenovela. At 18, celebrating his independence, he moved to New York and enrolled in an arts school, but the call of the cameras led him to abandon his courses within months. After a two year run in a US sitcom, Getting By, he moved to an American soap opera. There he played a Puerto Rican pop singer. This was not thought an artistic stretch for the actor.

He did guest turns in two Broadway shows, Evita, and Les Miserables, to good reviews; his first English-language album was a spec project by Sony, which thought so little of his prospects the contract only paid him one cent per unit sold. His Spanish language albums did better and better, though, and widely viewed performances at the 1998 World Cup and 1999 Grammy Awards grew his audience significantly. The latter event marked the unveiling of his biggest hit, Livin’ La Vida Loca, a rambunctious earworm that has sold over eight million copies.

Martin took a three year break from performing in 2007-10, fathering twins by a surrogate mother and working on philanthropic projects. His 2010 autobiography, Me (in Spanish, Yo) debuted at #5 on The New York Times nonfiction hardcover list and won good reviews for its portrayal of his struggle with being gay in a straight, Spanish pop culture. Martin’s coming out killed the worst-kept secret in the entertainment world; as early as 2000 the American television personality Barbara Walters badgered him to come out in an Oscars program watched by millions; she later declared that in thirty years of intrusive interviews, it was the one occasion in which she felt- after the fact- she’d crossed the line when it came to the privacy of her subjects.

Martin took Spanish citizenship in 2011, and in recent years has lived in Sydney, Australia, where he is one of the judges in that nation’s version of the TV singing competition, The Voice. He published a children’s book in 2013, Santiago The Dreamer in Land Among The Stars.

#HenryBemisBooks  #Charlotte #LiteraryBirthdays  #LGBT #RickyMartin

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