That Ricky Martin, the sultry Puerto Rican with a skill for shaking his bon-bon, was born Christmas Eve is no surprise. He's certainly some kind of miracle child with the power to light up the darkest of winter nights.
Not long after the turn of the millennium, I remember one particularly mojito-fueled evening in Little Havana when the air was alive with the Afro-Cuban sounds of DJ Spam and the Spam Allstars. A roomful of vibrating bodies worshiped at their musical altar. The group had a long-running weekly party at Hoy Como Ayer called ¡Fuacata! There was no other place you'd want to spend a Thursday night back then but sweating to their horns, drums, vinyl, and flute.
Wrapped up in a blissful show moment, I turned around to see who else but Ricky effin' Martin standing about three feet away. Star-struck, I debated asking him how la vida loca was treating him. But he was, like, actually glowing. He was more handsome than any Ricky Martin I could have ever imagined in my head. TV did not do this man justice. He was more magical than the Menudo figurine I played with as a kid in White Plains, New York. He was even better-looking in his early 30s than when he appeared ten years earlier with flowing locks as Miguel Morez on General Hospital. He was otherworldly.
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So I, like a good, celeb-fearing Miamian, kept my distance. This was years before the singer took a break from his successful career to father twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, in 2007, and prior to coming out as a proud gay man. He hadn't yet appeared on Glee or The Voice in Australia or Mexico or written his autobiography, Me, which was lauded by Deepak Chopra. The popular guru called the book, and I quote, "the story of humanity," adding that "it is only this kind of courage and this kind of love that can heal the world." Now that's a nice compliment.
Martin, a follower of the Buddhist philosophy, apparently saved young girls from a human-trafficking situation in India, which prompted him to found the Ricky Martin Foundation to help others like them. He's sounding more and more like a deity, right? Especially that part about him appearing on General Hospital.
Luckily, this messiah of Latin music is still banging away, heading back to his former hometown for the One World Tour this Saturday night. Watch this beacon of bon-bons, this savior of sabor, and ask him if he remembers me.