First it was the public announcement of his homosexuality. Then the announcement that he was a father through a surrogate. And then, after the media earthquake, a three-year-long silence. Now, returning in style to the Broadway stage, in the musical Evita, Ricky Martin gives us an exclusive introduction to his sons, Matteo and Valentino, and Carlos, his partner of four years.
A guy with a very 1940s New York look walks into the room. He is dressed in white, hair shaven on the nape of his neck and has a neat mustache, Clark Gable style. There are two young boys with him, blond and fair, looking at the squirrels in the garden. And there is another man, athletic and relaxed, who is keeping an eye on them. Time passes with an easy, Zen slowness.
It’s not exactly the scene one would imagine when thinking of Ricky Martin. The teenage Ricky Martin, moving on the stage like a mix between Michael Jackson and Duran Duran. Or his band, Menudo, setting off avalanches of girls all over Latin America. Or even the 20-year-old Ricky, sweaty, tattooed, and swiveling his hips in front of thousands of crazed fans. So, what should we imagine when we think of Ricky Martin? That’s the question we ask the artist himself.
“They would say to me, ‘If you have a girlfriend, don’t say so, because your fans are going to be disappointed.’ Imagine if it had been a boyfriend! This is the mentality I grew up with. I was onstage with Menudo since I was 12 years old. To us, the most successful one was the guy with the most fans. If you moved your hips and the girls screamed, you were getting it right. Who wouldn’t want to be like Elvis or Jim Morrison!”
The guy with the Clark Gable look, Ricky Martin, is actually playing a young Che Guevara in the musical Evita, which opens on Broadway this month. His sons, Matteo and Valentino, three years old, have matching haircuts. At first they hover close to their father, following him around the house. Until Carlos, the athletic guy and Ricky’s partner, manages to distract them. The three of them sit in an armchair, each with an iPad. Matteo is the more sociable one, and as soon as the camera turns on, he looks over at it with his big blue eyes. Valentino wants to go to the park. He doesn’t take his eyes off the squirrels.
Ricky has taken his sons on tour with him for a whole year. Isn’t it a little destabilizing?
“I’m the stability. With all the things that can be unstable on a tour, we really looked for structure. We traveled to four continents with my sons, very happily. All our decisions were made with their best interest in mind, from what time we woke up in the morning to what time to take off in the airplane. . . . Besides, my mother came with us.”
“You’ve had several years of catharsis after catharsis: coming out of the closet, publishing your autobiography . . . ”
“I needed to go through it. Like sitting on the psychoanalyst’s couch. I wanted to write about the stories I lived onstage and in my philanthropic work, but there was always that missing link. I was asked why I left everything and ran off to India. Why did I want to disconnect from the music world? Because I felt overwhelmed. Because all of the magazines were asking about my sexuality.”
When Ricky talks he moves his big hands, making them walk across the table. He dips his head and, above all, he moves his eyebrows. His eyebrows can be a pair of parentheses, a question mark, or a tightly knit frown. He is an actor and a dancer. He moves and twists. He smiles, modulating his voice, stretching his legs, and pulling up his bare feet. He has just come from rehearsal—six days a week, 12 hours a day—for the musical, and it shows. This is a guy who is used to being onstage.
“In your autobiography, you don’t criticize anyone. You don’t have any bitterness?”
He is quiet, looking at the ceiling. “I’ve run into malicious people, whether they didn’t like my work, my personality, or my message. They tried to trip me up, to see if I’d stumble. To the ones who mattered to me, I said, ‘I don’t like this. I want you to know that.’ But why give three paragraphs of my book to that person?”
“Who read it first?”
“Carlos. He said to me: ‘Congratulations, it’s great that you have been able to reach this level of honesty.’”
Ricky says Carlos’s name with a certain caution. Carlos himself moves around us cautiously—quietly, politely, keeping in the background. “I’ve never done a photo shoot like this. I am more into numbers,” he says apologetically. “I lived in Puerto Rico, and when Ricky was in Miami we saw each other often, since I’m my own boss and I organize my own time. New York was much farther.” Silence. “My great-grandparents were Asturian. I studied a semester in Madrid at icade [the business and law school at Comillas Pontifical University]. I love Spain.” Then he turns back to the twins, who are screaming, “Carlos, Carlos!”
“Do you regret the traps you set up yourself to pretend that you weren’t gay?”
Ricky takes a deep breath. “Honestly, I never needed a mask to go onstage. It was me who was there, and it was always what I felt, based on what I had learned at home, in my religion, and from society. I clung to that: ‘This is me, it has to be me.’ And if I had an encounter with someone of the same sex, I looked away.”
“Have you slept with women?”
“Yes, and I was in love with them and felt a lot of wonderful things. A lot of people said I was with women because I wanted to justify my masculinity,” he says, putting on a macho voice. “‘Look how well everything is going, with my family, the fans, the media.’”
“Being in love with a woman was a platonic feeling?
“It probably was platonic. I thought: ‘Wow! I feel so comfortable with her. This is a beautiful friendship!’ But there’s this sexist line of thinking that a man and a woman can’t be friends; they have to have something sexual. That thought is always there and it’s easy to let the guidelines you grew up with control your life.”
“And the women didn’t realize?”
“It doesn’t seem like it. There was love and passion. I don’t regret anything from the relationships that I’ve had. They taught me a lot, the men as much as the women.”
“No one ever tried to blackmail you?”
“Like go to the tabloids? No, never,” he says, his voice going very soft. “I think I’m lucky because I ran into wonderful people. It might be because I was careful and maybe I brought out feelings of loyalty and affection in my partners.”
Sixty million albums sold as a solo artist, 28 years in show business, Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, gold albums. He has sung in a band and alone; he has done musicals, theater, television shows, and movies. He has had long hair, short hair, blond hair, black hair, highlights. He has taken advice from Madonna: “Stop doing interviews, because people already know who you are.” He spent four consecutive years on tour (with “Living la Vida Loca”), and then fell into a period of inactivity and desperation. He traveled through India on a train with a Buddhist monk. He visited the victims of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, and the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He started the Ricky Martin Foundation and People for Children, to fight against the exploitation of children and child sex trafficking. And on March 29, 2010, he announced on his website: “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man.” And that day everything changed.
“When did you know that you were gay?”
“It wasn’t like one day I woke up,” he says, smacking his palms together, “and said: ‘I’m gay.’ It was a process. Little by little, with one thought following another, I found a sort of liberation.”
“The first person who knew was your mother.”
“I had friends that I shared things with, but I didn’t go into details. My mother asked me: ‘Are you in love?’ I told her yes. And she asked: ‘Are you in love with a man?’ I said yes, and we never talked about it again. It was a way of saying: ‘O.K., but Mom, don’t ask me again.’ I was 21 years old.” He had just won his first gold album.
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Source : vanityfair.com