Entertainment

Walter Mercado Got Real About His Flamboyant Style And Why He’s Long Said ‘No’ To Extreme Gender Conformity And Machismo

Puerto Rican astrologist Walter Mercado and his astrology predictions have been an institution in Latino households for nearly 50 years. Growing up, we would wait to hear his predictions for our upcoming day. Basically, Mercado and his readings prepared us for our challenges and celebrated our victories.

His flamboyant style has made him one of the most recognizable figures in our culture. What’s more, he is one of the first gender non-conforming individuals that many in the Latino community encountered. That’s something we have long been fascinated by and admired about the astrologist. Despite the stigma that is attached to people who live outside of gender norms, Mercado has always been able to claim a space for his message and has gained fans around the world during a five-decade career. 

Recently, Mercado spoke about his legendary career, his gender identification and the new exhibit in honor of his work. 

When talking about personal style and gender identification, Mercado was extremely open about remaining authentic and embracing dual energies.

CREDIT: @waltermercadotv / Instagram

According to Mercado, we all have the same feminine and masculine energies and can call upon them when needed. 

“I’m so into who I am, and I do [what] feels right for me,” Mercado explained to Remezcla. “I’m so connected to people and to the divine for that. That I look feminine with a cape? Everyone knows we have two energies – yin and yang – and I know how to balance them. If I have to be a warrior, then I’ll be that. If I have to be soft and subtle, I can be that, too.”

In the interview, Mercado also acknowledged the barriers he has broken through his presences in the Latinidad.

“I broke the barriers. Boys wear blue and girls wear pink…Why? No, that’s in the past. Extreme gender conformity, machismo, and weak, submissive women, no, no, no, no. We are humans; people have the right to think whatever they want. I follow my own path, and I am who I am.”

The astrologist’s groundbreaking work is also being celebrated with a dedicated exhibit that explores the more intimate parts of his life.

@HistoryMiami / Twitter

Called Mucho, Mucho Amor: 50 Years of Walter Mercado, the exhibit is being hosted by the History Miami Museum in Florida. The limited-run exhibit is open from August 2nd-25th. At the grand opening, Mercado entered the event in true fabulos style — carried in on a golden throne-like the true celestial king he is while triumphant music played and fans cheered. 

For public viewing, the exhibit features 12 of Mercado’s most iconic capes — one decorated and bedazzled for each Astrological sign. It will also showcase jewels, tarot cards and ephemera used during Mercado’s readings. These items will be on display for the first time ever. 

In the interview, Mercado credits his success to his realness to his longterm.

CREDIT: @waltermercadotv / Instagram

For many of us, the comfort Mercado has in his own skin is something we aspire to have. It’s this comfort that led to the familiarity and trust that we developed in the astrologist. His spot-on astrology predictions didn’t hurt either, but it’s definitely the certainty that comes from Mercado’s self-assurance that makes him such a trusted figure. 

“The stars will give an inclination, but they don’t force anything on anyone,” Walter said in his interview. “I would tell people the tendencies I would see show up for them, but I was always very clear with my messages. I let people know they shouldn’t have expectations from me or expect me to tell them the exact location where they’ll run into the love of their life. I would formulate it by saying, ‘I see a tendency that love is around you and following you.’”

Mercado also shared that he believes that his gift for astrology comes from a “divine source” and credits it for the love he has received from his numerous fans. 

Twitter / @HistoryMiami

Whether Mercado’s readings are authentic or just vague prophecies, one thing is certain: the astrologist loves his fans as much as they love him. With this in mind, Mercado tries to share his love and positivity with his public.

“People were saying I was the new prophet for a new era and that God and Christ manifested in my heart,” Mercado explained. “I was taken aback by all the love people were showing me, and I’ve always improvised my readings. I don’t like to use a teleprompter. When I was finishing the segment I was inspired, and I uttered the words, ‘Que Dios me los bendiga a todos, y que reciban de mi mucha paz y mucho mucho (blows kiss) amor,’ and it stuck. People were thanking me for the prayer, and at that moment, I made the choice – since the prayer was so pure and beautiful – I would keep using it. I still use it so the public could continue to receive these blessings.”

H/T: Remezcla “I Am Who I Am” Walter Mercado On Gender Non-Conformity & His Long Career

 

Walter Mercado Was An Iconic Astrologer And A Gender Nonconforming Legend And Now There’s A Documentary About Him Coming To Netflix

Entertainment

Walter Mercado Was An Iconic Astrologer And A Gender Nonconforming Legend And Now There’s A Documentary About Him Coming To Netflix

Waltermercadotv/ Instagram

Walter Mercado was a source of wisdom. His horoscopes eased many Latinxs into New Years, months and days full of new possibilities and opportunities. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, Walter was a celebrated daily part of Latino culture—until last November, when he sadly passed away. But his legacy lives on, and this year, he’s getting his own Netflix documentary. Here’s everything we know so far about “Mucho Mucho Amor.”

Late television personality and astrologer Walter Mercado is the subject of a Netflix documentary.

Extravagant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming legend Walter Mercado charmed the world for over 30 years with his televised horoscopes. And this summer, a the feature-length documentary based on the life and work of the iconic astrologer, “Mucho Mucho Amor” will stream on Netflix. And it’s scheduled to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film was selected to premiere at the 2020 Sundance Festival.

The independent-film festival announced its lineup earlier this month, and Miami is well represented among the 118 films selected. Although Mucho Mucho Amor might seem timely in light of the astrologer’s passing in November, Tabsch and his codirector and coproducer — Cristina Constantini and Alex Fumero — have been working on it for more than two years.

The film explores Walter’s complex story.

“Mucho Mucho Amor”, follows Mercado’s story, from the rural sugarcane fields of Puerto Rico to international astrology superstardom, rising above homophobia and the heteronormative beliefs of the Latino society with a message of love and hope. “If you think about the way he came on television, starting from 50 years ago,” said one of the film’s directors, Kareem Tabsch in an interview with WLRN, “he blended gender expressions — the masculine with the feminine on Latino television, which is very macho-centric.”

The film was directed by two Latinx co-directors.

Kareem Tabsch and Cristina Costantini (Science Fair, Festival Favorite Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival) both set out to create “Mucho Mucho Amor” as a love letter to Walter Mercado.  “He was uniquely his own. In a very macho Latino culture, he presented his nonbinary gender expression, and it was so brave,” Tabsch said to Miami New Times.

“Mucho Mucho Amor” unpicks how Walter Mercado became an icon of gender-fluidity for an entire generation.

The filmmakers, who grew up watching him with their abuelitos, craft a film with levity and a playful spirit. Light-years ahead of his time, Walter has become a nostalgic cult icon of self-expression and positivity for the gender-fluid youth of today.

And indeed, Walter Mercado induces millennial Latinos into deep nostalgia.

For Latino audiences, Mercado also represents a form of warm nostalgia. “You think of Walter today, and so many of us think of our abuelitas,” the Cuban-American filmmaker says in an interview with Miami New Times. “The memory takes us back to childhood. It takes us back to sitting with our grandparents. In making this film, we realized that was a universal experience [for Latinos].”

The director also spoke about the significance of premiering their film at Sundance.

The fact that an international film festival of Sundance’s prominence has recognized a film such as Mucho Mucho Amor is an important win for not only Tabsch and his team but also Latino culture. “It’s a huge recognition not just for Miami film, but for film created by, for, and about Latinos,” Tabsch says. “We’re telling our own stories.”

The film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24 and runs through January 31. It will be available on Netflix this summer.

A Latina Author In New Mexico Is Delivering Books To Asylum Seekers On The Border To Brighten Their Spirits

Culture

A Latina Author In New Mexico Is Delivering Books To Asylum Seekers On The Border To Brighten Their Spirits

booksellersofamerica / Instagram

It was a normal day at her New Mexico bookstore when author Denise Chávez was approached by a customer who needed help finding Spanish-English dictionaries. As is common in life, asking questions is what generates the most change, and the customer’s answer to her question of “Why?” sparked an idea. The customer wanted to help out the migrants who were passing through and finding refuge at the Peace Lutheran Church respite center. Understanding language as the vital life source to forming social bonds, communities, and basic navigation in society, Chávez decided to go a step further. In May 2019, Chávez started bringing bilingual storybooks to the Peace Lutheran Church shelter. Soon, word got around and she began to expand the project, initiating a soul-nourishing project called “Libros Para El Viaje” or books for the journey.

Chávez’s book drive has been promoted and supported by various bookstores across the country, including national nonprofit, the American Booksellers Association (ABA). Since then, Chávez has hand-delivered thousands of books to migrants on both sides of the border, offering the gift of exploring unknown worlds from the unacceptable confines of a tent, detention center or hiding.

Meet Denise Chávez.

CREDIT: @BOOKSELLERSOFAMERICA / INSTAGRAM

Chávez grew up in the border community of Las Cruces, New Mexico, the daughter of a teacher and a lawyer. “I was just inculcated from the very beginning with books, books, books,” Chávez shared her story on social media. “Growing up as a Chicana close to the Mexican border, my stories came to me in many languages, including Spanish, Spanglish, border language… I was filled with the beauty of spoken words. And I’ve always loved books,” she shared on Booksellers of America’s featured bookseller post.
“Bookselling means more to me every day,” Chávez shared on her experience of owning Casa Camino Real Bookstore, which serves as a community center and art gallery honoring border culture. “The stories of connecting, the people who come in—booksellers attract all sorts of people. To sell a book or to give a book away is a profound experience,” she added.

Chávez sees proof every week that giving a migrant a book is “a major healing experience.”

CREDIT: @RIVERDOGBOOKCO / INSTAGRAM

Libros Para El Viaje’s success is, in large part, thanks to Chávez’s presentation at an ABA conference that garnered national attention from booksellers. ABA has promoted her project, which has spurred many other community projects to help fund Libros Para El Viaje. For example, Minneapolis booksellers Red Balloon Book and Wild Rumpus created “Books for Border Kids” to host a two-month book drive. Those two independent booksellers alone sent over 3,000 book donations to Chávez in Las Cruces, according to The Salt Lake Tribune

“Every week, I distribute books in Spanish to families and children,” Chávez shared on social media. “So my work has deepened because we’re reaching out to people who arrive with nothing. To get a book means something. It’s a major healing experience. So when I see a tiny, little woman—and I wish people in the United States could see the people that stand in front of me with those ankle bracelets; they’re small people, they wouldn’t hurt anybody—I try to remember her face. She is on a journey. She’s going on a bus. She’s going on a plane. And she’s taking a book for the journey. I mean, wow! Right?”

“Books can heal us,” Chávez believes.

CREDIT: DENISE CHÁVEZ / FACEBOOK

Whether it’s a Guatemalan teenager looking for a Stephen King novel or seeing the beauty in a mother “hugging three Isabel Allende books,” Chávez has found healing in her project. Whether “somebody is picking up a Spanish language version of H.G. Wells’ A WAR OF THE WORLDS. Or to give a dictionary to an older man who’s learning English. It’s exciting. This is truly being connected with what a book does, which is to inform, empower, enlighten,” she testified in a social media post.
“My reason to be a writer is because I have been healed by books, and I do believe that books can heal us. It is a challenge to be a bookstore, but I continue because I know the power of a book,” Chávez attests.

You can support Casa Camino Real Bookstore‘s Libros Para El Viaje by purchasing any of these recommended bilingual books and mailing them to:

Casa Camino Real Bookstore
314 South Tornillo Street
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001

READ: Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books