Right now my life is Versace and Vegas, and I’m not complaining,” Ricky Martin tells me. When he says Versace, he means his co-starring turn in the Ryan Murphy-helmed The Assassination of Gianni Versace, an installment of FX miniseries American Crime Story coming early next year. Édgar Ramirez plays Versace, Penélope Cruz portrays his sister Donatella and Martin plays his partner, Antonio D’Amico—his biggest acting gig yet.
When he says Vegas, the Puerto Rican star is talking about his fiery production show All In, which just began its third run at the Park Theater on the Strip this week, perfectly timed for Mexican Independence Day and all the Latin tourists who’ll be partying in Vegas all weekend long. “The second time I was definitely more relaxed,” Martin says. “The critics were amazing, and that keeps your feet on the ground. But I think it’s very classy, and very complete in the sense that if you know my music, you will be pleased, and if you don’t, the production is so rich and the quality of the people I’m sharing the stage with is so high, it will feel good. At this point I feel at home, and it’s great.”
Ricky Martin 2017 has been pretty great, but I want to talk about Ricky Martin 1999, when his self-titled U.S. breakthrough album and “Livin’ la Vida Loca” placed him at the front of the so-called Latin pop music explosion and made him an international star for the second time (he did it with Menudo as a teenager). I want him to tell me about that explosion—and the one starting to happen now.
“Listen, man, if the slogan ‘Latin explosion’ is going to create some kind of curiosity for people who are not familiar with the culture, I say bring it on. I don’t have a problem with that,” he says. “I remember when I had the Time magazine cover and they wrote, ‘Latin goes pop’—back then I was like, come on, we’ve always had pop in Latin America. We’ve always been that. But if you need a hook, why…