Last night the 2009 Latin Grammys--a consistently far more entertaining and classier (and Kanye-free!) event than its gringo counterpart--were celebrated in Las Vegas. The highlight of the evening was a crazy-ass performance by Mexico's legendary Juan Gabriel.
The flamboyant veteran performer, beloved of sentimental aunts and tough gangstas alike, took to the stage backed by an army of mariachis and folkloric dancers and, Courtney Love-style, refused to leave for 40 minutes. What originally was meant to be a three-song meddley honoring his status as this year's Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year devolved into a full set showcasing the endless appeal of "el Divo de Juarez." (For the record: he's awesome!)
In case you were wondering about the pink elephant in the room, when someone had the balls to ask Juan Gabriel if he was gay, the star allegedly replied "Lo que se ve no se pregunta, mijo" ("What you can see, you don't need to ask about, son.")
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The relationship between machismo, sentimentality, and even good old camp is very complicated in Latin American cultures, and this is especially true of Mexican culture. But as Cindy Casares points out in Guanabee, "This old queen is another one for whom the entirety of Mexico just looks the other way. Macho men in cowboy hats go to his shows, call him a fag and then cry during his songs. No one would care, Juan Gabriel, if you just admitted it. Except the gays, who would love you for it."