Rising up Latinx, I used to be raised with a few issues that, upon going to highschool and studying how my white buddies lived, weren’t as frequent as I believed. Generally it simply didn’t come up. I, for instance, by no means talked in regards to the caped, androgynous man who appeared on Spanish-language information and delivered day by day horoscopes with nice theatricality. That was my regular, and I by no means actually registered how much less… dramatic the information was on English-language networks. This caped astrologist of my youth, Walter Mercado, was an icon and a fixture of Latin American life. However I, caught between cultures, had no thought how massive he loomed.
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado is a Netflix documentary that explores the lifetime of a Puerto Rican tv large that, for his large fame, managed to keep up a personal life that afforded him a degree of thriller. Directed by Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch, the movie offers a loving and complete overview of Mercado’s life, leaning on interviews with Mercado and different Latinx icons like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez to convey the affect he had throughout generations.
That influence was largely mirrored within the title, which quotes Mercado’s acquainted sign-off: heaps and many love. Mercado, because the documentary particulars, grew to become a type of secular religious determine — like a pope, however not affiliated with anyone faith. He consciously pulled from all of them, which was each a shrewd technique for amassing a big worldwide TV viewers and likewise an enormous a part of his attraction. The opposite is the aforementioned theatricality: Mercado beloved capes and robes and elaborate units. He bucked gender norms, relishing in historically female gender expression in a particularly (and hostile) heteronormative tradition, stopping simply shy of revealing a sexual identification past one memorable quote, the place he says, “I’ve sexuality with the wind, the flowers, the backyard.”
You imagine him when he says it as a result of there was nobody actually fairly like Walter Mercado.
There’s some ugliness to that; a central battle within the documentary is the deterioration of Mercado’s relationship together with his longtime agent, Invoice Bakula, who, at one level, wrested authorized management of Mercado’s identify, picture, and work away from him. On this battle, Mercado is depicted as each naive and amicable, a person who could have been scammed and implicated in scams, however solely as a result of he wished to do the work of bringing pleasure to folks together with his reveals.
It’s a real delight that has endured to the current. The final portion of Mucho Mucho Amor spends a bit of time with Mercado towards the top of his life on the premiere of an artwork exhibit devoted to his profession in 2019. It’s essentially the most touching a part of the movie as a result of it’s the place Mercado will get to see what so few do: progress and the way his life’s work made it occur. Whereas Mercado’s sexuality remained non-public for his total life, his expression of affection and efficiency of gender made him a outstanding queer icon in a tradition that, for many of his life, had so few. Mercado died in late 2019 after a prolonged retreat from the general public eye. However earlier than his passing, he received to see a technology of Millennials that determine as Latinx over the gendered Latino/a, who have been capable of be out and proud and make content material that centered their queerness on-line. He witnessed them discover their communities.
Watching Mucho Mucho Amor was like having a lock opened inside my mind. I found a little bit of nostalgia I didn’t even know I used to be harboring; lovingly explored in the identical manner popular culture aimed toward a white viewers is on a regular basis. Like studying methods to prepare dinner a meal you grew up consuming, Mucho Mucho Amor related me with my previous. It’s like the way in which air smells completely different and your coronary heart feels a bit of bit greater once you’re residence with folks you like and miss.