¡Tequila Time!

Give this Border Girl a comb and she'll conquer the world

There's a lull in the schedule, and Paulina Rubio doesn't like it. "Open the curtains," she says across the back of the couch to anyone who will listen. "Let's do something. Let's practice yoga. Turn on the television. Anything."

This should have been a good day; the first interview wasn't scheduled until after three in the afternoon, which means you have the whole day free. But it's so gray outside. And the interview was a disaster. Even before the tape recorder began to roll, there was a question about her brother's health. Who's running around talking to reporters about her brother? And then the question about her opinion on the legalization of marijuana. What the hell is that supposed to mean? "I'd like to talk about my new record," she says pointedly, but it's no use. Tape recorder off. Why do reporters even bother asking questions, when they're just going to write whatever they want anyway?

She gets up to open the curtains herself, but that's no use, either. There's no light outside. "I'm hungry," she says. "Can someone please get me a menu?"

A rare moment of contemplation for Mexico's next big export
A rare moment of contemplation for Mexico's next big export

There's another reporter hanging around, trying to exceed her allotted twenty minutes. "I just want to get your flavor," this one says. Well, how are you going to do that in some hotel room rented for nothing but interviews all day? She smiles just the same.

Maybe she should have someone do something about her hair.

"The other day, they did my hair ten times just to keep busy," she laughs, tossing her golden mane toward her publicist, who is sitting across the room.

"That last one left you looking like La Trevi," Joe Bonilla jokes, but no matter how big the stylist teased out Rubio's hair he could never make her look like that loca Gloria Trevi. It's true, both girls were trained up in the Mexican City teen star system, but the world outside Mexico now knows Trevi for her part in a bizarre kiddie sex ring. Paulina Rubio is going to join Ricky and Enrique and J.Lo and Shakira as a hot hot hot Latin superstar. Even Thalia, who got her start with Paulina in the juvi singing group Timbiriche and grew up to marry Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola, even she has only released a few songs in English so far. When Border Girl drops, Paulina will be the first Mexican superestrella to release practically a whole English-language disc. Since last September she's even had the same manager who used to manage Ricky Martin. "This is the Mexican moment," Ricardo Cordero likes to say. "It's Tequila Time!"

"We want to cross her globally," Kim Garner, the senior vice president of marketing at Universal, will tell you. "We want her to be the next big thing, not just in America but all the way around the world." But you have to be careful about crossover. Her last disc, Paulina, sold a million and a half copies in the United States alone, presumably to loyal Latin fans. "Our strategy has been to make sure that Latin radio is taken care of, make sure she does a lot of the Latin press," Garner reveals. "Now that she's crossed over we didn't want people to say she's forgotten her roots."

That's the whole point of being here today: double duty with Latin and Anglo press. And that's the point of being in Dallas two days before and in Tampa the night before that and at a radio-station concert in Fort Lauderdale the night before that, performing her single "Don't Say Goodbye" for the first time for an English-speaking audience, prancing across the National Car Rental Center stage with big big hair, a metallic crop top, a short bolero jacket with flared sleeves, and knee-high stiletto boots.

"Wasn't my outfit chingona?" she pouts defensively, pretending to be offended. "Everyone said I was having a retro moment. Back to the days of the Golden Girl." The days of La Chica Dorada, her first megaseller as a solo artist back in 1991. "Everyone told me, you look terrible. But I loved my outfit, though," she switches to English to emphasize the last word. "And anyway, my boots were brand-new. Sergio Rossi."

One of the guys from the camera crew for the Spanish-language television show Pepsi Charts turns on the television. Everyone watches Bill Murray do a gag about a lounge act who sings Stones covers on a rerun of Saturday Night Live. They can't start the interview until their boss gets here.

Paulina checks her messages, shaking her long honey tresses out of the way every time she brings the phone to her ear. She is talking to her mother, famed actress Susana Dosamantes, who introduced her to show biz as soon as she could walk. "You have to sleep," she scolds, playing mommy to her mami. She gives a pep talk to her father. Someone is in the hospital and she wants to know when she should call, when people can visit.

"Is someone in the hospital?" asks the reporter, who is still hanging around.

"No," she says quietly as she puts away the phone.

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