Heroes: Ricky Martin is Back Again with Bangers
With his new release Pausa, the Latin idol talks about handling fame and his career to come.
In 1999, America was suddenly, inexorably living la vida loca, thanks to a young, chiseled Puerto Rican’s showstopping Grammys performance. But just before Ricky Martin caught fire with the English language smash, “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” he’d been as far from the spotlight as it gets: practicing yoga and meditation at an ashram in India. “I went to this little town called Puri, and I meditated,” he says. “I wore my sarong and nothing else. I was like a monk.”
Rolling Stone captured Martin’s zero-to-sixty in Fall ’99. (“You were in India just before the Grammys?” the magazine questioned. “[My label] thought I was going to stay over there!” Martin replied.) What no one knew then of Martin’s spiritual pilgrimage was that it included a reckoning with his sexuality: “That was all totally, totally part of it: Confusion, confusion,” says Martin, who came out as gay in 2010. “People think you’re one thing, and you think you’re something completely different. Many [LGBTQ+] people go through that place and time of not knowing who the hell you are.”
The son of a psychologist, Martin may have been predisposed to deal with the pressures of the fast lane—one he’s occupied for decades. “This career is fascinating and overwhelming,” he says. “The power that you feel on stage, when 20,000 people are singing your music…It’s addicting. It’s like crack. I’m very lucky to…still [be] here.” He also cites meditation, which he continued to practice over return trips to India. “My gurus tell me, ‘This is a reality. But music is your reality; it’s what you were born to do,’” he says.
Now father to 12-year-olds—Martin’s age when he began his career—he has generations of fans. Earlier this year, he dropped Pausa—part one of a to-be-continued diptych. He describes Pausa, which featured next-gen stars like Bad Bunny, as a “modern [take on] what I’ve done.” Forged during the pandemic, it proved that Martin’s zest for “La Vida” is everlasting: “At this time of my life, I’ve never had so much fun.”
Pausa is out now. Part two, Play, is coming soon!