Until February 5, Pepe Billete — the nation's best-known profane Cuban-American puppet — was the top gun on Cristina Radio, a satellite station that launched on Sirius XM in 2011.
Then he got a pink slip.
Pepe Billete Uncensored was a funnier-than-hell conglomeration of "political satire, sports, and pop culture... where the world's leaders and celebrities come to tell you how they really feel about what's going on," according to the station's website. The puppet hosted guests such as U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and interviewed them using Cuban swear words for every body part you can imagine. Always amusing. Always with a point.
Why the show was canceled is a mystery, at least to Pepe. "It was the highest-rated show on the channel," he says. "I was the one bringing in revenue because my shows had commercials. Then something happened."
That something, Pepe says, was demands from a representative of Cristina Saralegui's — the former TV host once billed as the Cuban Oprah whose talk show was canceled by Univision in 2010, picked up by Telemundo, and dropped again a year later.
"They said I was tarnishing Cristina's brand," he contends. "She is mortified because I say 'pussy' a lot and talk a lot of shit."
(A tweet to Saralegui received no response, and a phone number listed for her company is disconnected. A call to an attorney who has represented her company in the past, Robert Adams, was not returned.)
Nelson Albareda, president of National Latino Broadcasting, which works with Saralegui on the channel and manages a music station on Sirius called En Vivo, says the puppet is wrong. "We have been talking for six months about hitting refresh," he says. "It has been tough to monetize the talk format, so we made a decision that we would start the entire thing over." He contends that no representatives of Saralegui's ever complained about Pepe, adding that he speaks with her reps "every other week."
Pepe Billete Uncensored was nixed, along with all the other shows, for now, he says. The channel will return soon.
That reason is not enough for Pepe, who penned the following response to the woman he calls "both perverse and a hypocrite." — Chuck Strouse
Last Friday, I received a call from management at your Sirius XM channel informing me that my show was being taken off the air. Naturally, this came as a surprise given the fact that Pepe Billete Uncensored has been the top-performing show on your channel the majority of the 13 months you were airing it and among the most popular Spanish-language talk shows across the entire Sirius XM network. It was so popular, in fact, that you played reruns throughout the day, giving me more airtime than you even gave yourself on your own channel. An odd move to some, but with the amount of sponsorship money the show was bringing to the channel, who could blame you?
Then, despite the fact that the show was turning a profit month after month, despite the fact that you didn't have the channel invest a dime into the show while checks from sponsorships it generated came pouring in, despite the fact it was the most-listened-to show on your channel, I have to hear from my superiors that I'm being taken off the air because, allegedly, you think I'm too vulgar. ¡Yo me aguante la lengua, pero ahora si que me empingaste de verdad!
Oye, Cristina, la verdad que estás de pinga. ¿Desde cuando tu eres tan fina, chica? And moreover, when did you become a pillar of ethical journalism? I know you love to hear your fans refer to you as the Latina Oprah, but the truth is that you're actually more like Jerry Springer con un bollo than you are Oprah focking Winfrey.
Remember in 2002 when the Sun Sentinel said, "Unlike Oprah, though, who abandoned the freak road show years ago to host a more spiritually oriented program, Cristina has made a downward turn and is now focusing on the vulgar and the grotesque"?
I may use profane language for the sake of humor, but you're the one who hosted a TV show that routinely instigated confrontation between your guests until they physically attacked each other — and then had the audacity to try to pass it off as respectable journalism. Like the time your show made international news because one of your guests threw dirty syringes into the audience.
The depths of your vulgarity know no end, pero tu eres la que tira la piedra y esconde la mano. I hate to be the one to break it to you, chica, but you ain't fooling anyone with your bullshit façade of morality.
You are a flip-flopping hypocrite. You made an entire career out of being raunchy and obscene, and you would proudly defend it. Like the time you were on 20/20 and told Deborah Roberts: "What we have now is comedy, we have raunchiness, we have slapstick. We have strippers. We have funny stuff for the 10 o'clock adult."
Interesting que ahora que tienes las nalgas arrugadas, te estás tirando el peo mas alto que el culo. Tu serás rubia, but as a wise man once said, "Just because you bleach your asshole doesn't mean your shit don't stink." At best, you're nothing more than a petty fraud whose fickle ethical standards sway according to your personal involvement. At worst, you're a sadistic pimp who made her career taking advantage of people's misfortune and publicly extorting misery for every rating point you could bleed out of it. Tu lo que eres es una sin verguenza que hizo su carrera adelantándose de la gente.
I talk about bollo peludo, patas sucias y sapingeria, but I don't pretend to be anything more than what I am: un chusma. You, on the other hand, sold your dignity and integrity for ratings like a cheap whore but tried to pass yourself off as a role model for young Hispanic women. You hosted shows in Playmates' lingerie con la papaya bien maracadita and even once in the nude with nothing but a barrel to cover your saggy teats. You weren't a journalist or even respectable by any definition of the word; you were a ringmaster at a circus of humiliation and depravity.
Pero pa' la pinga, if I were in your position, I would have gotten rid of my show too. Having your circle of friends comment on its content certainly wasn't making it easier for you to accept the delusion that your newly acquired sense of dignity offers you a golden parachute, saving you from being remembered as a smut-peddling opportunist. At the end of the day, I am a satirist, and my job is to make fun of the ridiculous, so in retrospect, I guess I should be thanking you for making my job easier.
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Keep up the good work.
P.S.: You still owe me $2,500, you cheap bitch.