We cannot wait to dive back into our youths and learn more about Latinx icon Walter Mercado, whose voice we can still hear in our heads saying the names of the astrological signs in Spanish (many of us even learned the Spanish names for the signs thanks to him and his signature exaggerated "r" trill).
The flamboyant and androgynous Puerto Rican TV astrologer is the subject of Netflix's latest documentary that borrows its title from Walter's catchphrase: Mucho Mucho Amor.
The extravagant, cape-donning fortune teller was a hero to an entire generation of Latinx youths, and perhaps even more so in the Latin LGBTQ+ community, who felt an innate kinship with the gender-nonconforming personality.
At the end of his life especially, audiences wanted to know for certain whether Walter Mercado was gay or straight, and whether he had a significant other in his life. Keep reading for everything we know about this private figure's private life.
Was Walter Mercado gay?
Walter was in a league of his own, that much we can all agree with. Walter helped many viewers see beyond the constraints of the gender binary.
Comedian Gabe Gonzalez described the celebrity as "weird and beautiful and eccentric and dressed in extravagant capes I'd try to imitate using my grandmother's sheets," adding, "he defied everything I'd been taught about how I 'should' act as a Puerto Rican man."
Indeed, Walter carved a special place for himself that seemed to exist apart from both television norms and traditional Latino machismo. On top of that, he wasn't subject to many rumors or speculations about his sexuality — "You don't ask about what you can see," says an LGBTQ activist whose attitude is "held by many" from Walter's generation — and got a pass for his larger-than-life persona.
"It's the plausible deniability that chauvinist or homophobic audiences need in order to give Walter the pass that they needed ... to enjoy the message he was sending them," Mucho Mucho Amor producer Alex Fumero said to AP, explaining why Walter made the choice never to publicly discuss his sexual orientation, aside from his "spiritual relationship" with Brazilian dancer Mariette Detotto.
"This is a culture that's been dominated by machismo and homophobia for a very long time," he said, adding that Walter was "really brave" and that his silence about his orientation allowed him to be embraced by the LGBTQ+ community, without alienating more conservative audiences who might have rejected an out-television star.
Who was Walter Mercado's "soulmate"?
In 2004, when Walter was 71, he surprised the press with two candid confessions: First, he revealed he had found a "soulmate" in Brazilian personality Mariette Detotto, who he said he planned to marry, and second, he told journalists in Spanish that he'd been "sexually abstinent for years."
The two never did marry, though Walter declared his love for Mariette "pure and sincere," and explained that he had taken a vow of celibacy until the moment "when a woman would arrive and wake up the energy of love in me, and that is Mariette."
Stream Mucho Mucho Amor to learn more about Walter, and the legacy he left behind.