Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ricky Martin, Red Velvet’s Wendy team up

Latino pop star Ricky Martin has joined hands with Wendy, the main vocalist of K-pop girl group Red Velvet, in the upcoming unblocked English version of “Vente Pa’ Ca."

The news Friday came three months after the club dance genre track by the 45-year-old was released in Spanish. Upon its release in September, “Vente Pa’ Ca” was No. 1 on iTunes from 18 countries. The Spanish version featured Colombian singer Maluma unblocked games hacked.

Wendy has proved her capability as a solo singer in projects through S.M. Station. She collaborated with singer-songwriter Eric Nam in “Spring Love,” while she most recently featured on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” released Friday.

The English “Vente Pa’ Ca” will be released through online streaming service providers Tuesday at noon.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Ricky Martin, livin’ la vida open: Singer says he would 'sleep with a woman'

OK, ladies, hold on to your panties, there’s still a chance.

Ricky Martin says he is “open to having sex with a woman.” Just don't call him bisexual.

The super sexy singer told the Mexican magazine Fama!, according to an English translation by the Latin Post, “I know that I like both men and women. I’m against sexual labels – we are simply human beings with emotional and sexual needs.”

Martin, who kicked off the Latin pop explosion in 1999 with the No. 1 hit, “Livin' la Vida Loca,” is the father of twin sons, Matteo and Valentino, born using a surrogate mother.

He was in an on-again-off-again relationship with Mexican TV host, Rebecca de Alba, for more than 14 years.

The Puerto Rican pop star, 44, broke the hearts of women around the world in 2010, when he announced publicly on his website, "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."

He went on to say, "These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within, and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed."

A year ago, Martin broke off a three-year relationship with stockbroker Carlos González Abella. He currently is rumored to be dating Spanish singer Pablo Alborán.

The Scoop on Vanessa Marcil's Return to General Hospital

Prepare for Brenda-Mania! In an unprecedented public relations blitz, ABC will bump its entire August 10 daytime suds lineup for a Vanessa Marcil (sorry, that's Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo!) marathon featuring three of the soap superdiva's most classic General Hospital episodes. SOAPnet is already in the midst of a 25-day Brenda Barrett countdown (key Brenda moments, timelines, trivia quizzes) and will air a four-hour "Best of Brenda and Sonny" marathon August 15, including a long-unseen Ricky Martin episode. The gal herself hits GH on August 11 after a seven-year absence. What's in store for the most deliciously needy, high-maintenance crisis junkie in the history of daytime drama? GH head writer Bob Guza gave TV Guide Magazine some exclusive scoop!

Let's clarify. You were quoted at the Daytime Emmys saying you have Vanessa for two years, but since then there's been conflicting word on that. What's the deal?

Bob Guza: We have Vanessa for at least a year and she and I have talked about going longer. I don't want people to think this is some six week in-and-out. Brenda will be heavily involved with all the characters she had important relationships with, especially Sonny [Maurice Benard], Jax [Ingo Rademacher], Jason [Steve Burton] and Robin [Kimberly McCullough]. I don't want people to think this is just a Brenda-Sonny story. If there was ever a time when Sonny really needs Brenda, this would be it, but all three of her romances will be revisited.

You've told us we'll first see Brenda in Rome working with a children's charity headed by Adrienne Barbeau's character. What brings them to Port Charles?

Guza: We are going to come upon Brenda mid-crisis and, true to form, that crisis is going to disseminate across the canvas and ultimately involve everybody. Since last we saw her, Brenda has become a kind of international supermodel and she is now the celebrity face and goodwill ambassador of the ASEC Foundation, which is the Alliance to Save Exploited Children. Adrienne's character, Suzanne, is the director of the organization, and she and Brenda have become close friends. ASEC is based in Rome but they do work all over the place, including Africa, and we'll be playing off that.

Didn't Brenda hate modeling back in the day? It pushed all her emotional buttons. What's changed? 

Guza: She's sucking it up and doing it for a very good cause, but here's the real downside to this new career: Her work has given her a public face and that'll put her in severe jeopardy that will ultimately involve all our heroes in Port Charles. No surprise — Brenda will come fleeing back to town and bring her troubles with her.

What makes Suzanne tag along? 

Guza: She needs Brenda's involvement and participation and comes to Port Charles to protect her investment, but also to protect her friend. Only Suzanne understands the danger Brenda is in and the severity of the situation.

You've already revealed that crackpot Franco [James Franco] has a connection to Brenda. Is he behind this crisis?

Guza: [Long pause] Well, not exactly. There is a connection to Franco that'll affect future story, but he is not the source of her problem. But I will say this: The source of Brenda's problem is already on the canvas in a story we are currently telling.

Have the folks in Port Chuck kept up on Brenda's rise to fame?

Guza: Yes, they all know about it and we'll find out some have been keeping secret tabs on her. She's somebody who would be in People magazine — it's that level of celebrity. Working with James Franco has me very interested in dissolving the boundaries between reality and illusion and I love the idea that Vanessa is quite the celebrity in the real world and will now be playing a celebrity on our show. It's kinda neat.

Is Brenda's crisis romance related? Is she involved with someone or is she coming back to town a free agent? 

Guza: She is not romantically entangled. It's a bigger crisis than that.

There's been buzz that she somehow secretly gave birth to Sonny's child. Anything to that?

Guza: I'm not going to discount any story but, let me put it this way, Brenda is not coming on canvas with that particular baggage, okay? I'm not saying she won't leave the show with that particular baggage. She's coming with something way more explosive than that.

Okay, Mr. Cryptic, so you're saying she did not have Sonny's child yet?

Guza: I'm saying she is not coming to town with that particular baggage, got it? [Laughs] This is fun. I wish I could conduct my real life like this but my wife would probably kill me.

Yeah, something tells me Ms. Meg Bennett wouldn't put up with this crap! Guza: I'd be sleeping out in the back yard with the coyotes.
Let's get back to Brenda's many men. Sonny is certainly available right now. Jax is looking that way, too.

Guza: The timing is perfect. Even though there is an attraction that's going to build as Sonny tries to manipulate Claire [Dahlia Salem], he is not in a really strong romance right now. He's in a vulnerable and emotional place where he's caused horrible damage to those he loves and he could very much use someone who will remind him of his glory days, someone who can bring him comfort — and that's Brenda. Jax is also in an interesting place. His romance with Carly [Laura Wright] is on again, off again. But unlike Carly, who is famous for having her rebound relationships, Jax has never rebounded from a romance with anyone — so this may be a first for him. He loves Carly dearly but Brenda needs him. I'm salivating at the prospect of putting Vanessa and Laura together. I'd do a month with just the two of them, but we'd have to rebuild all the sets because there'd be nothing left standing!

The situation with Jason is more complicated. He's got a great thing going with Sam [Kelly Monaco]. Will Brenda bust that up?

Guza: Brenda and Jason were married in one of the funniest, least romantic weddings ever. They do not love each other. They do not much like each other. But he is a protector and he'll respond when she's in danger. It's a very codependent relationship. The difference now is that Jason is in a very committed, very loving relationship with Sam, so what's going to happen when Brenda is in dire straits yet again and Jason has to go run and help her? How confident is Sam of her love affair with Jason, knowing Brenda has this extraordinary allure? I love the way this whole thing is setting up. Also, don't forget that Brenda has never met some of the newer men in Port Charles, like Dante [Dominic Zamprogna] and Patrick [Jason Thompson]. Robin will be in a place with Patrick where she can really use a shoulder to cry. She will need her old pal Brenda There's great stuff to be played with all these characters. Actually, there's too much great stuff. I'm going to work Vanessa as hard as she will let me!

Seven Days, Seven Nights: Ricky Martin, Deepak Chopra and Aïda among best bets for Oct. 12 – 18

This is your last week to check out the must-see Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The blockbuster exhibition features almost 300 works, including original studio plasters of the masterpieces The Thinker and The Walking Man. Most fascinating and educational are the insights into life in his studio, where Rodin employed dozens of artisans. Normally closed on Mondays, the MMFA has extended its hours this week: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Wednesday and Thursday when the MMFA will open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The exhibition runs to Oct. 18. Admission: $10 to $20, free for kids 12 and under. Advance tickets highly recommended. Call 514-285-2000 or visit mbam.

Tuesday, Oct. 13

The 44th annual Festival du nouveau cinéma continues this week with daily screenings of filmmaker and multimedia artist Richard Kerr’s Demi Monde, a “fresco” of images from Hollywood films headed for the dump that Kerr digitized into a series of long-dissolving sequences that celebrate film, cinema and life. Screenings of the 300-minute film begin at 6 p.m. in the Agora du Coeur des Sciences at UQAM (175 President-Kennedy Ave.). Free admission. Meanwhile, Rolling Stones fans should not miss the rarely-screened documentary Cocksucker Blues directed by Robert Frank, chronicling the Stones’s 1972 American tour (Oct. 16 at 9 p.m.); the band kept the doc out of circulation for decades, reportedly because of the film’s orgy scenes (including one on a plane) and depiction of backstage drug use. The FNC runs to Oct. 18 at various venues. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 1-866-908-9090 or visit nouveaucinema.

Must-see concert of the week: Red-hot American soul, R&B, jazz and blues singer Andra Day headlines her first-ever Montreal show at Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent Blvd.) at 8:30 p.m. Admission: $15 advance, $17 day of. Tickets via evenko.

Wednesday, Oct. 14

Puerto Rican pop superstar Ricky Martin always put on a dynamic live show and headlines the Bell Centre at 8 p.m. Opening act: Wisin. Tickets: $79 to $117; call 514-790-2525 or visit evenko.

Thursday, Oct. 15

The play State of Denial, written by Rahul Varma and directed by Liz Valdez, continues at the Segal Centre Studio (5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine Rd.): Set in contemporary Canada and Turkey in 1915, State of Denial links the Armenian genocide of 1915 with the 1994-95 genocide in Rwanda when a Rwandan-born Canadian filmmaker travels to Turkey to investigate stories of genocide and hidden identity. State of Denial runs to Oct. 25. Admission: $18 to $26. For tickets, call 514-739-7944 or visit segalcentre.

Another play of note opens tonight: Persephone Productions remounts playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s acclaimed play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, set in 1661 when the most famous portrayer of female roles on the London stage was a male performer named “Kynaston.” The play chronicles Kynaston’s personal and professional life after King Charles II changes the law so that only women can play women’s roles. This production boasts a large cast featuring graduates from several theatre programs in Montreal, notably Thomas Wilkinson Fullerton as Ned Kynaston, and runs at Centre Culturel Calixa-Lavallée (3819 Calixa-Lavallée St.) from Oct. 15-17 and Oct. 21-24 at 8 nightly, plus 2 p.m. matinees on Oct. 18 and 25. Tickets: $20 to $25.; call 1-866-967-8167 or via persephoneproductions.

There is a different show nightly at the 7th annual Montreal Burlesque Festival which runs Oct. 15 – 17 at Club Soda (1225 St-Laurent Blvd.). Prices for general, premium and VIP admission range from $30 to $129. The festival’s official closing show, Gentlemen Prefer Billy, starring Montreal’s “drag burlesque stripper” Billy L’Amour fronting a jazz band, with a special performance by festival founder and Montreal’s Queen of Burlesque Scarlett James, will be held at The Wiggle Room (3874 St-Laurent Blvd.), Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. Admission: $20 advance, $25 at the door. For more information, visit montrealburlesquefestival.

Friday, Oct. 16

Two events of note at the 2015 Canadian International Organ Competition Festival: their gala concert at Notre-Dame Basilica will feature CIOC laureates David Baskeyfield (U.K., 2014), Christian Lane (U.S.A., 2011) and Frédéric Champion (France, 2008) on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. (admission: $20 to $150); and legendary French organist Jean Guillou headlines the Maison symphonique de Montréal on Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. (admission: $35 to $65). The CIOC runs to Oct. 25. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 514-790-1111 or visit ciocm.

Discovered while playing in the Paris métro as a penniless busker, British-French singer-poet, pianist and international sensation Benjamin Clementine headlines L’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine St. W.) tonight at 8. Admission: $30 to $34.55. Tickets: 514-871-1881 or visit montrealjazzfest.
Bestselling author and influential thinker Deepak Chopra presents his lecture The Future of Wellbeing at Théâtre Maisonneuve at 7:30 p.m. Admission: $54.75 to $206.25. For tickets, call 514-842-2112 or go to placedesarts.

Saturday, Oct. 17

The Lyric Theatre, one of Montreal’s longest-standing community-theatre companies, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a one-night-only concert at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall (7141 Sherbrooke St. W.). They will be joined by about 80 performers from the Lyric Theatre Alumni Chorus to create a 120-member ensemble to perform smash hits from such musicals as Hairspray and Beauty and the Beast. Showtime: 8 p.m. Tickets: $17 to $30; call 514-743-3382 or via lyrictheatrecompany.
Montreal soprano Marie-Josée Lord performs a concert version of Verdi’s classic opera Aïda, accompanied by the Orchestre philharmonique des musiciens de Montréal and the Choeur d’Opéra Immédiat, at the Église St-Pierre Claver (2000 St-Joseph Blvd. E.) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15 to $50, via opera-immediat.

Sunday, Oct. 18

American heavy-metal band Danzig headlines Metropolis (59 Ste-Catherine St. E.) with opening acts Superjoint Ritual, Veil of Maya, Prong and Witch Mountain. Showtime: 7:15 p.m. Tickets: $42 in advance, $47 day of show. Call 514-844-3500 or via evenko.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Ricky Martin: 'I hated it when people tried to force me to come out'

The Puerto Rican singer talks about his struggle with his sexuality, his happiness at having finally come out and the 'very erotic' show he is bringing to London


Ricky Martin. Photograph: Omar Cruz

Ricky Martin would like to make one thing completely clear. The show he is bringing to London this month is "erotic", he says, leaning towards me. "Very erotic," he lowers his voice meaningfully.

There'll be fetish play, whips, chains, nudity (on film), he tells me, and an onstage orgy involving him and his eight dancers. He predicts the 18,000-strong audience will want to join in. And it's this that worries me. When I go to his Madrid show the next day, the temperature outside is 33C. Inside, in a stadium heaving with heavily perfumed women and heavily muscled men, the temperature is anyone's guess. When the fiftysomething woman beside me stands up, howling, at Martin's first appearance, a slug of her sweat hits me, and I suck my teeth nervously. It's a bacterial breeding ground, I think. When this orgy gets under way, veruccas will be spreading like wildfire.

But I needn't worry. The show is less erotic, more exuberant. Martin bounds around the stage like a huge, horny chipmunk, thrusting, hopping and swaying through the daffy charms of Shake Your Bon-Bon and She Bangs. There is a sweetness about him, a yearning for approval, that recalls his boyband childhood, and his enormous success in the late 1990s; when he sings the lyric "I wanna be your lover" and mimes holding a massive phallus, eyes astonished, then beseeching, it calls to mind nothing so much as a child proffering a large frog. The crowd screams when he opens his shirt, they punch the air to his 1998 football anthem La Copa de la Vida, and lose it when he sings his recent Spanish language release Más. As the gig ends, Martin gazes out at the audience, sweaty with joy.

These are ecstatic times for him. Last year, after more than a decade of rumours and sniping about his sexuality, Martin announced online that he was "a fortunate homosexual man"; he followed this statement with his autobiography, Me, in which he described his sheer pride and relief at coming out. For this, his first UK newspaper interview since the announcement, we meet in a hotel suite in Madrid, and he is warm and open, all hugs, as are his entourage of family and lifelong friends. When I ask whether he still feels as euphoric as he did while writing the book, he sprawls on the couch, and starts running his hands wildly over his chest. He is the most physically expansive person I've ever interviewed. "I feel liberated," he laughs. "I feel in touch with myself."

Then he sits up, suddenly serious. "I feel protected. I don't feel alone. Because sometimes when you're quiet about yourself, you feel all alone. And all of a sudden you come out and you have this amazing community, the LGBT community, and LGBT-friendly people, who are giving you nothing but love. And if I focus on this, I get tears in my eyes, because, oh my God, I wish everyone that was struggling right now could feel what I'm feeling as I'm talking to you. It's just love coming from every fucking direction!"

This is particularly poignant for Martin because of the years spent dodging questions and insinuations. The most notable incident was when Barbara Walters, the veteran US journalist, interviewed him for an Oscars special in 2000, and badgered him to address the rumours. (She has since said those questions were "inappropriate", the one regret in her three decades of Oscar interviews.) He replied that "sexuality and homosexuality should not be a problem for anybody" and refused to say much more; back then, he was terrified of what would happen if he came out, the possible rejection. "I hated it when people tried to force me out when I wasn't ready," he says. "It was very painful, and it actually pushed me away from doing so." The salacious tone of the coverage only made him more convinced that people would react badly when he did.


Ricky Martin performing on stage in London, 2000. Photograph: Brian Rasic/Rex Features

At 39, it's clear he's spent much of his life trying to understand and control his sexuality. "If I had spent a quarter of the time that I spent manipulating my sexuality in front of a piano instead, I would be the most gifted piano player of my lifetime," he says. "What people were expecting from me was not who I was, and I forced myself to believe that what they wanted could be my truth, my reality, and I went after it hardcore. What I'm trying to say is this: I don't think I was lying . . . I would have my flings [with men], and I would think, OK, maybe I'm bisexual, but then, no – because I can be with a girl, and it feels amazing." In his book, Me, he seems genuinely smitten when he writes about his female lovers. He writes of one that "she hated her breasts, but they made me crazy. I loved looking at her body; it was like a painting that I could describe to the last detail. Her legs and the little toes on her feet lit me up. I wanted to devour them – and I always did."

And so these feelings made him think, "I'm not gay," he says. "And you would watch TV, and you would see this caricature of someone who's in the LGBT community and you'd say, 'Well, I'm definitely not that.' And then you start convincing yourself, or trying to prove to yourself, that you're not gay. If you add to that the amount of success I was having," he pounds his fist against his palm, "I'm singing La Vida Loca and enjoying it and being successful and accepted, and I thought, let's keep pushing towards this, because who's not seduced by acceptance?"

Martin's early life, particularly his years in the boy band Menudo, would probably have confused any gay child. He grew up in Puerto Rico, the only child of psychologist Enrique Martin and accountant Nereida Morales; his parents split up when he was two, and both had children with other partners, but doted on him. At just three or four, he realised he had an attraction "to my friends, to the same sex – I felt something really magnetic about boys. And then I thought, no, I'm not supposed to be feeling this.' But it was very powerful." He was Catholic, believed in the church's teachings, and loved being an altar boy. "I thought, I'm supposed to like girls, because that's what the church says, and that's what my priest told me . . . Unfortunately, according to my faith, what I was feeling was evil, and I struggled."

He always wanted to be in the spotlight, and at nine he started appearing in TV commercials; by 10, in the early 80s, he wanted nothing more than to join Menudo. The band had released their first album in 1977, and had a distinctive structure – when members hit their 16th birthday they would be replaced by someone new. At his first couple of auditions he was too short. But when he was 12, he was accepted, and early the next morning was on his way to the band's base in Orlando, Florida, to start a new life. His job, from now on, was to be appealing to girls.

In his autobiography, Martin says Menudo cost him his childhood, but he equivocates slightly now. "A child is a child, no matter what," he says. "But I became a rock'n'roll star slash sex symbol at a very young age. I was thinking: what do I have to do to get the attention of the girls? It was my job to move my hips, because then they scream, and that meant I was successful, like the rest of the guys. Was I ready for that? I don't know. But that's what I was supposed to go through, according to my karma." (Martin no longer follows a specific religion – he has a T-shirt that reads "God is too big to fit in one religion" – but he refers to his spiritual beliefs passionately and often. His autobiography begins with a quote from Gandhi, and is sprinkled liberally with references to yoga and swamis, which can be hard to take seriously. At one point in our interview he says: "Buddhism has a very beautiful teaching that says the worst thing you can do to your soul is to tell someone their faith is wrong." His eyes widen with awe. "And when I heard that I was like: 'Oooh! That's a tweet!'")

He says he was 13 "when this obsession with being accepted kicked in. You needed to say yes, because if you said yes, the girls liked you, the girls screamed, and the media would talk about you. I was travelling all over the world, and I had girls following me, private jets, private suites. You would look out of the window and you would have thousands of people . . ." He throws his arms in the air, mimes screaming wildly. The media called it Menuditis. Sounds painful, I say. "Like meningitis!" he laughs.

Martin was in the band for five years, and then went to live in New York, where he spent a lot of time sitting on park benches, exhausted and reflective. But he was soon appearing in a musical in Mexico, then a soap opera, and at 18 he signed a contract with Sony Music and began making Spanish language albums. He played a singing bartender on the US soap General Hospital, and by the late 1990s he had an enormous hit with World Cup anthem La Copa de la Vida (The Cup of Life). It reached No1 in more than 60 countries. This led to a star-making performance at the 1999 Grammy Awards, a duet with Madonna, and the release of his first English-language album, Ricky Martin. The standout track, Livin' La Vida Loca, dominated the summer of 1999 – it was an ear-worm of a song about a wild, superstitious young woman who encourages people to take their clothes off and go dancing in the rain. He was everywhere. The album sold almost 17m copies worldwide, his personal appearances brought Oxford Circus to a halt, it was rumoured his trousers had to be triple-stitched to keep his pelvis-thrusting performances in check and he was the subject of countless drooling interviews about his sex symbol status.

He seemed unstoppable, but the pressure of work, and the media attention surrounding his sexuality, started to feel oppressive. So in the early 2000s, he cancelled a concert in Buenos Aires, and went home. "I didn't like who I was," he writes in Me. "I moped around my house and had very little sense of humour." He describes a friend telling him he was screwed up. He responded by throwing a glass against the wall. Was he depressed? "A doctor never told me that," he says, "so it was not diagnosed. But a lot of people around me were like: 'Oh my God, we lost him . . .' But rather than depression, I think it was a touch of rebellion, you know? It was the first time in 10 years that I was relaxing in my house, waking up when I wanted, watching movies until the sun came out, going to a club if I wanted to. It was the first time in my life I was not dealing with a schedule."

Martin continued to record – Spanish-language albums, and the English-language album, Life, which came out in 2005. But his thoughts were turning to family. He wanted children. And so he said: "OK, what are my options? Am I going to adopt? I just sat in front of the computer, doing research, until I found surrogacy, and I was like: 'Woah! This looks really interesting.' I interviewed so many people that were part of this beautiful world, and I decided this was going to be my way." When he told his mother, "she was like 'surr-o-ga-what? This is like a movie of the future, Rick.' And I replied, 'Well, Mom, we're part of the future.'"

He found an egg donor, and another woman to carry the baby, but it was a closed surrogacy – neither woman knew then, or now, that Martin was the father. In August 2008 his twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, were born. He was determined to look after them without help, until his mother said: "'You're like a zombie.' And I'm like, 'No, I'm noooooooot'" – he pretends to fall asleep, mid-speech – "because I wanted to do it all." He makes a loud snoring noise, and drops his head again. "And that's when I said, 'OK.'"

I ask whether he wants more kids, and he says he'd like "a daddy's girl". He's going to be living in New York next year, playing Che Guevara in Evita on Broadway, and he plans to start the whole process again. "I'll be steady in New York, and then, after I do the play, the baby [will be] born, and I'm going to be able to spend time with her."

It was having his kids that gave Martin the final push to come out; he told Oprah Winfrey last year that he didn't want his family "to be based on lies". Still, when it came to announcing the news, he was seriously nervous. "When I pressed send, I was really scared," he says. "I went to my room, and I was holding my pillow, and three minutes later I called a very good friend and said: 'Tell me what they're saying.' And she's on the other line, crying: 'You don't understand the amount of love you're receiving.'"

He's been in a relationship for almost four years now, and says that he can't believe it. "That was not in my plans – not part of the schedule! His name is Carlos, and he's an amazing human being. He works with the other side of the brain, because he's a financial adviser, a stockbroker." Does he think they'll get married? "It's funny because, you know, we never talked about it, but now the question is coming up [in interviews] all the time. The other day we were reading a magazine and," he mimes them looking at each other, "we were like: 'You're cool with this, right? No pressure?' And I'm like: 'I'm cool, everything is cool.' Not yet. Whenever it's time. I would love the option to marry in my land, my island [Puerto Rico], but unfortunately it's not an option for us yet, which I think is ridiculous. But it's part of a very beautiful process that's happening around the world little by little. Hopefully I will see it, and my kids will see it."

Martin's career will probably never return to its late-90s peak, but it is healthy: he is about to release a new greatest hits collection in the UK, is on a tour that will last until the end of the year and he has 3 million followers on Twitter. Until now, much of his success seems to have been driven by the need to avoid asking himself difficult questions, to keep moving and pushing ahead. Is he still as hungry as ever? "My priorities are different," he says quietly. "My priorities are: I need to be good; I need to be well within for my children to be well within; and then the creative process flows, organically and smoothly. I'm not looking to experience what I went through in the Livin' La Vida Loca days again. Now I just get really turned on by the audience." He pauses significantly. "Really turned on."

Ricky Martin attacks 'racist, absurd and incoherent' Donald Trump

Latin superstar lays into presidential candidate after journalist from Spanish language TV station is thrown out of press conference


Ricky Martin … Take that, Trump. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Ricky Martin has issued a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump, whose views he has called “racist, absurd, and above all incoherent and ignorant”.

The Latin superstar took Trump to task in a piece written for the website of the US Spanish language TV station Univision, after one of its senior journalists, Jorge Ramos, was thrown out of a Trump press conference when he repeatedly tried to question the presidential candidate about his immigration policies.

Trump has taken a hard line on immigration, pledging to deport millions of undocumented workers and to get Mexico to pay for him to build a wall along its borders.

Billboard ran a translation of Martin’s piece, which was written in Spanish. The singer said:

The fact that an individual like Donald Trump, a candidate for the presidency of the United States for the Republican party, has the audacity to continue to gratuitously harass the Latin community makes my blood boil.

When did this character assume he could make comments that are racist, absurd, and above all incoherent and ignorant about us Latinos?

From the beginning his intention was transparent: basically tell barbarities and lies to remain relevant in the public opinion, for votes or simply to stay on the media’s radar.”

Martin said Latin people had to show Trump that they deserved to be respected. “Let’s not allow a political hopeful to plant his campaign in insult and humiliation,” he wrote. “Let’s demand respect for those first generations of Latinos who came to the United States and opened a path for us. We have fought for every right that we have today.”

Another musician, however, has been taking a more sanguine view of Trump. Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, a former contestant on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show, said the tycoon had asked permission to use Twister Sister’s song We’re Not Gonna Take It at the end of his rallies, and he had been happy to agree.

“Donald Trump is a good friend and a great guy, and I support him turning the political system on its head. The song We’re Not Gonna Take It is a song about rebellion, and there’s nothing more rebellious than what Donald Trump is doing right now,” Snider told TMZ (via Blabbermouth). “Although [Democratic presidential candidate] Bernie Sanders can use it as well; he’s turning things upside down too.”

Snider said it was possible Twisted Sister would perform the song at a Trump rally, if asked.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Ricky Martin Visits IOM Cambodia Counter-Trafficking Project

International pop star Ricky Martin travelled to Cambodia in March 2008 to learn first hand about IOM's activities in the fight against child trafficking and sexual exploitation. "This is a fact-finding mission for us," said Angel Saltos, executive director of the Ricky Martin Foundation. "He wanted to see for himself."

During his week-long visit, Ricky met with IOM Chief of Mission Iuliana Stefan and later travelled to the remote Cambodia–Vietnam border district of Kompong Ro with Project Coordinator John McGeoghan and Minister of Women's Affairs Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi to find out about IOM's holistic counter-trafficking prevention activities, and to meet victims and local villagers.

The project, which is funded by Finland and implemented in close cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), addresses the trafficking of child beggars to Vietnam.

It provides awareness-raising to vulnerable villagers, basic legal training to the local authorities, agricultural training and technical support to poor farmers and has implemented a village banking system and an emergency fund.

In partnership with the Provincial Department of Education Youth and Sport, it has also established a vocational training centre to train victims and vulnerable young women in garment factory sewing
skills linked to real jobs in the province and in Phnom Penh.

Having traveled the 200 km from Phnom Penh to Kampong Ro, Ricky visited the IOM-sponsored public-private linked sewing skills vocational training centre, where he met with the director and
centre staff and chatted with the trainees.

"Exchanging stories with the girls and boys that attend the vocational training was enlightening. In their smiles, the Foundation witnessed true hope and felt reassured that they are receiving skills in order to have a better future. It also prevents them from falling prey to exploitation," said Ricky.

In the past two years, nearly 500 trainees have passed through the centre and most are now in full-time employment.

The Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF later joined villagers in community awareness raising activities focusing on the dangers of irregular migration and the illegality of child trafficking for begging in Vietnam.

Ricky enjoyed meeting the villagers and spent an hour distributing T-shirts and hats to local children. He also spent time with destitute villagers receiving emergency assistance and social services from IOM-UNICEF trained social workers.

"Creating awareness campaigns is essential to win the fight against child trafficking. With this visit, we reaffirmed that educational campaigns between different sectors of society and with a call to action component are powerful. I am convinced that solutions organically flourish if we work in alliances," added Ricky.

At midday he settled down with villagers for a local lunch and afterward worked up a sweat learning traditional Rom-Vong dancing from local villagers and the Minister of Women's Affairs.

"Dancing was amazing, lots of fun... Music and philanthropy reconnects humanity," concluded the Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF.

The Ricky Martin Foundation advocates for the well-being of children around the globe in critical areas such as social justice, education and health. People for Children, their flagship programme, condemns child exploitation.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ricky Martin Foundation (RMF) have signed a global cooperation agreement aimed at raising awareness and combating the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. The global agreement will allow IOM and RMF to put in place joint projects to combat human trafficking all over the world, with special emphasis on children and minors.

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