Mr. wOw: Ricky Martin ‘Livin’ La Vida Gay’!

© PR Photos

Here’s to the Grammy Award winner’s recent confession …

Ricky Martin is, in his own words, “a contented homosexual man.” Well, we all knew half of that.

Mr. wOw had the thrilling experience of attending the Grammy Awards back in 1999. Mr. W. was there for Madonna – she was predicted to finally collect a couple of awards for “Ray of Light.” She did. And she performed, too. She belted out “Nothing Really Matters” dressed up in crazy geisha gear. Considering her famous nerves when she performs live at an awards show, it was great. Well, OK … it was good. OK … she stayed on key.

However, M perched on her platform shoes and flailing her red kimono were nothing compared to what came later in the evening – Ricky Martin! At the time, Martin was unknown to me, and from what I gathered, the rest of the audience, too – though he was already a huge star in South America and Europe. (He’d been a member of the boy group, Menudo, had appeared on the soap opera “General Hospital” and even on Broadway in “Les Miz,” but he was still, somehow, under the radar.)

On that Grammy night, Martin sang “The Cup of Life.” It was a fabulous production number that climaxed with Ricky shaking everything the good Lord gave him, raised up on an elevated platform – sex in the sky! The entire place went bananas – a genuine standing O – and I felt sure I’d been witness to a star born.

Backstage, it was a tie between Madonna and Ricky as to who was getting the big media rush, and it was expected that Martin would make his way to Madonna to pay homage. Wrong. After completing her duties (“I appreciate this so much!”) Madonna grabbed her Grammys and went in search of Ricky. Just as he was saying, “I appreciate this …” Madonna appeared, gave him a big kiss and said, “I wanted to congratulate Ricky Martin. He’s so cute!” and vanished. Then she went on to her own party where she literally danced on a table. In four-inch heels. She was very happy about her Grammys.

What struck me that night, even more than the electric power of Ricky’s performance, was the running gossip line on him as soon as I hit the backstage area – “He’s gay!” It came from every quarter to an almost comical point of insistence. I won’t say I was surprised – watching him onstage I thought, “probably gay.” But I wondered at the giddy chat; he must be tres gay for this to be such a hot topic! Ricky was soft-spoken and humble. He blushed repeatedly that night. Did that translate to “gay” in the loud, ego-driven, non-blushing cutthroat showbiz world?

Shortly after, Ricky’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” went through the roof and he was every woman’s dream. And every man’s. Although Ricky claimed a “close friendship” with some ladyfriend, nobody believed it. Everybody assumed Ricky Martin was gay. No question. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” went on and on at the top of the charts. And, right along with it, the open assumption he was gay. It was fodder for jokes, but it didn’t stop the Ricky Martin steam engine. He had one more so-so hit in the U.S., “She Bangs” (the video featured him groped by dozens of women), and then the party petered out in North America. Ricky was one of those phenomena much too hot not to cool down.

In the following years his career thrived south of the border. He was often photographed with a good-looking man — sometimes frolicking on the beach in tiny Speedos — this was his rumored longtime good friend. (Mr. wOw once spotted Ricky and his friend at a Manhattan eatery. They looked very happy.) Two years ago Ricky welcomed twin baby boys. Today he says he is writing his memoir and feels it is time to fess up. He doesn’t want his children growing up in an atmosphere of secrets and lies. He didn’t mention the boyfriend, however.

Eh, more power to Ricky. He hardly had to confirm. It was like … Liberace. Or, yes – Rock Hudson. Please, who didn’t know Rock was gay? I found the “shock” over Rock coming out (as he lay dying of AIDS) rather disingenuous. Housewives knew it. In their hearts they did. But Ricky never annoyed Mr. wOw. He didn’t become rich and famous mocking the gay community and then coyly deny he was any part of it. (Hi, Sean Hayes!) He did have a career to protect. Not even so much in the U.S., but South American views on homosexuality are not even as tolerant as they are here. And I don’t find that “tolerance” all-encompassing.

Ricky needed to solidify his fortune, consider his family (parents, siblings, etc.), ponder a career that might be sidetracked. So he waited. If this is also a push for his coming memoir – again, eh. What else is new? I think Ricky tends toward the spiritual, and I believe him when he says he has made this step so as not to raise his kids in a murky atmosphere of rumor and gossip. He is by every account a very nice man.

Who knows what this little “confession” might accomplish, even in a small way? Maybe someday, a hot twenty-something leading-man-on-the-rise will ignore the advice of his (most probably gay) agent and manager, and just casually live his life openly and, if asked, answer: “Yeah, I’m gay.” (Neil Patrick Harris came close, but even he was pushed around by pesky tabloids and persistent gay activists.)

I’m not ignoring lesbians in showbiz. But the gay woman thing is never such a big deal. Men find it exciting. Especially when the “lesbians” look like Playboy models. Or, as in Ellen’s case, present themselves in a non-sexual manner. Male homosexuality remains the much bigger taboo, the deal breaker.

Ricky, you go, guy!

Comments are closed.