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CLARIN

Ricky Martin Praises Pope, Dies Online, Releases New Album

An interview with the 43-year-old Latino singer reveals a more serene relationship with fame, fatherhood and a growing thirst for tango.

Ricky Martin performing in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, in October
Ricky Martin performing in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, in October
Marina Zucchi

BUENOS AIRES — Ricky Martin died in January; he read the news himself and watched footage of the "tragic" accident that had killed him on YouTube. The reports would have caused consternation and outright grief among quite a few on this planet, if they hadn't of course been fake.

As for Martin, he responded with humor, posting pictures of himself up in the afterlife. "You have to laugh. That's why I posted the "Heaven" pictures." Right now, he's more focused on promoting a new album, his 10th, called A Quien quiera escuchar (To Whoever Will Listen).

"It's a return to tenderness but it also has fun being wild — a symbiosis of syrup and sexuality, somewhere between ecstasy and melancholy," he tells Clarin."That's what life is like. If you're always really cheerful, you're probably on drugs! If you're always sad, you're depressed, you need help. Life is full of ups and downs. My mission in recent years has been to be specific with emotions and speak in a transparent and vulnerable way. Without fearing what they'll say. That freedom is in this album."

Some of the girls in Ricky Martin's official fan club, apparently better informed than the Argentine intelligence service, told Clarín that the singer does not like being called by his middle name José. That he is left-handed (not left-wing though), hates his feet and celery. He may have patched things up with his former partner, Carlos, though he will not shed light on it in our interview.

One unusual stat about Ricky: The percentage of people fainting in his presence may actually be rising. Some are adult women, who momentarily turn into helpless little girls. Reports indicate that when Ricky sang in July 1996 for 200,000 people, 500 were estimated to have fainted. Last year, singing to a smaller Argentine audience of 80,000 in the Parque de la Ciudad , about the same number fell to the floor.

The Puerto Rico native born Enrique José Martín Morales wants to visit the Argentine pope, especially after Pope Francis said "who am I to judge?" homosexual people. Martin, 43, feels there is a slow metamorphosis afoot.

"I realize he is very diplomatically demanding change in the Church. In my case, as a member of the LGBT community, the only thing I ask for is equality in the strictest sense of the word and that we should stop being judged," says the singer. "We are not asking for more rights than others. So when His Holiness speaks of equality, you have to applaud."

CLARIN: Do you really think a rapid change of mentality is possible in an institution like the Catholic Church?
RICKY MARTIN: Yes, and not just from Pope Francis. I think this can happen in the world generally. You have to be very patient. We are getting there, we're almost there. I grew up a Catholic, always went to a Catholic school, and this has nothing to do with what I was taught in school. Which is a relief. It's not like I'm a regular churchgoer but as they say, "once a Catholic, always a Catholic" chuckles. I am glad His Holiness is taking cautious steps toward a world of equality.

You look happy. What kind of happiness is it: serene or adrenaline-fueled?
The calm follows the storm. When you sing in front of 20,000 people, it's like touching God's hand, it's wonderful. Then, after the high, there's a comedown. I am hooked on all these subtle differences in feelings. Right now I'm very peaceful. I love being in love and having a partner — but I also enjoy being single.

Your new album reveals tango-style influences, which are increasingly permeating music beyond Argentina. And you expand=1] recently played Che Guevara in the musical Evita on Broadway — so what drew you to the two-by-four rhythm?
You don't have to be Argentine to be touched by the beauty of tango. It's a sound that impacts everyone. I had the opportunity to travel and you will always find places where they are dancing tango. I plan on taking some classes!

Outside music, we read a lot about you, but we're never quite sure whether it's true or not. Apparently you were about to have a third child, a girl. Are you?
I have nothing to hide, so I'll say it: I would like another child, but it's not possible right now. Perhaps early next year, I will make preparations for bringing in daddy's baby girl — it's just too busy this year.

You said a while back that with each passing day, you find fame more frightening. Are you less or more afraid now?
The secret is to control fame. My comment was a bit immature. Today I control fame, it's not the other way around. That thought calms me down a lot.

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Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
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