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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ricky Martin Made It Cool to Come Out

Peek-a-boo!
Suddenly, the idea that coming out of the closet means death to a celebrity's career has been challenged. Do you hear that, Travolta and Cruise?

Anderson Cooper just came out. His show on CNN, 360, might even get a bounce from it. Not to be upstaged, Frank Ocean came out. That hip-hop homo may see a career boost, as I'm sure his manager already counted on. The old stigma against being gay -- or, at least, openly so -- just doesn't seem to hold in our modern age.

Martin, who had been dogged by gay rumors before coming out in 2010, pretty much appears to be the trendsetter. Of course, perhaps the person we really have to thank is Barbara Walters, whose infamous 2000 interview with Ricky turned awkward once the anything-for-a-good-cry-and-a-scoop Missy W tried to out the singing superstar.

In 2010, prior to Martin's coming out, yenta-for-pay Barbara told The Toronto Star, "I pushed him very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was. A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question."

The out-&-proud Ricky went on The View in 2010 to assure Walters he harbored no resentment. But, hell, her interview single-handedly sent his then-meteoric career into the toilet bowl for a time! He even got blowsy looking and (gasp!) put on weight! And then he came out -- and came back -- with a vengeance!

Gay daddy
Martin -- or, at least, his agent -- made gay pay. And this is the blueprint that people like Anderson Cooper had to work with. Anderson should send Ricky a "thank you" note, as far as I'm concerned.

Ricky was on the cover of The Advocate, interviewed with his family in Vanity Fair (appearing on the cover of the magazine's Spanish version), and saw his autobiography, Me, become a New York Times best-seller (debuting at number five on the Hardcover Nonfiction list). A Spanish-language edition entitled Yo was published simultaneously, also a huge hit.

Martin premiered his "Ricky's Lip Conditioner" lip balm in April 2012 as part of the M.A.C Cosmetics "Ricky and Nicki for Viva Glam" campaign. The advertisements paired him with rapper Minaj. A gigantic ad prominently went up in Times Square. Mmm, Ricky's Lip Conditioner. Now that's a beautiful thought! Ricky also hit Broadway in a broad way when he assayed the role of Che Quevera in the revival of the musical, Evita!


Ricky's 2011 album soared to #3 on the US Billboard chart (#1 US Billboard Latin chart). "Freak of Nature" was a huge hit at clubs last summer and Ricky's gay fans -- old and newly found -- were on board with that one.

So Senor Martin is a trailblazer. Closeted celebs take note. You, too, can become a beloved gay icon! Of his deer-in-the-headlights response to the Barbara Walters interview, Ricky now says:

They would say to me, ‘If you have a girlfriend, don’t say so, because your fans are going to be disappointed.’ Imagine if it had been a boyfriend! This is the mentality I grew up with. I was onstage with Menudo since I was 12 years old. To us, the most successful one was the guy with the most fans. If you moved your hips and the girls screamed, you were getting it right. Who wouldn’t want to be like Elvis or Jim Morrison!

Like Garland or, better yet, Mr. Jackson, Ricky Martin was a child star. Unlike Michael, Martin has always stayed very grounded. But, Ricky, I have a feeling we're not in Menudo any more! Just keep those hips shakin' till they need to be replaced, bebe! You're so over that rainbow!

Check out Ralphi Rosario's remix of "Freak of Nature" and take a dance on the wild side:




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