“MUCHO MUCHO AMOR”— Puerto Rican Astrologer Walter Mercado


Puerto Rican Astrologer Walter Mercado

Amos Lassen

“Mucho Mucho Amor” is a documentary that follows the life of the iconic Puerto Rican astrologer, Walter Mercado. When Mercado was on television, everybody at the house had to be quiet and pay close attention to see what horoscope would say. Mercado represented hope and was a ray of light that many Latino families needed. Of course, his light wouldn’t be nearly as effective without his glamorous, extravagant capes…and the overall image he created.

This documentary is told through his family, his close friend, some famous admirers (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eugenio Derbez), journalists, and Mercado himself.  “In a world where homophobia is prevalent, he decided to make and break the mold. He wasn’t ordinary, and he wore it as a badge.” His controversial decision to take the good aspects of every dominant religion and incorporate them into one was fascinating.

Mercado was an international one-of-a-kind phenomenon. To many Latino families, he was the symbolism of hope. He is a man who decided how he’ll live his life and decided to take the “I don’t care” attitude. His success and colorful appearance has been the target of jokes and unwelcome imitation. He died a few months after this documentary was done, and the filmmakers believe that Walter knew about his upcoming death, and that’s why he decided to make this film. Mercado’s message was to live life to the fullest, and the ultimate purpose of life is love.

Directed by Cristina Constantini and Kareem Tabsch, the film follows the life of the flamboyant wanderer of life, astrology and luck, who appeared on the televisions of millions of Latin households for many decades. His sign off, “pero sobre todo, con mucho, mucho amor,” is the lasting impression of the film itself—enchanting, doting, and as simply wonderful as Walter himself. He was a trailblazer within the Latin and LGBTQ community and left a legacy for himself, as thoughtfully seen here.

Mercado grew up in a farm town. From a young age, his experience in healing a bird made him a popular deity of sorts among neighbors. He grew to make it big in the business, going from what was thought to be a whim appearance on-air to getting big network deals for his own shows and branding. His background was in theatre and soaps and he eventually he came to extravagant, colorful capes and gowns, like a Latin wizard of good karma. This image with all of its beads, blowouts and jewel galore, became a staple in Latin culture.

Constantini and Tabsch recognize the impactful and trailblazing icon that Mercado was in. He was never explicit with his asexuality, but is on record saying that he is attracted to life itself. For so much of Mercado’s life, his willingness to love has long been part of his character as a selfless, warm soul with no adherence to customary stock. The film also depicts the hardships and legal battles that he had to deal with. His former manager, Bill Bakula, is interviewed in the film, reminiscing how he came to discover Mercado and worked with him over the years. The longtime relationship came to a halt when a legal battle ensued, with Bakula getting Mercado to sign off ownership of his name and entire brand, unbeknownst to Mercado. This played a factor in his sudden disappearance from on-air work in 2006.

For so long, the Latin community as a whole was hesitant about homosexuality, largely influenced by the culture’s dominating machismo. Mercado’s work was largely accepted, nonetheless, but was sometimes met with comedic bashing in the entertainment world. Whether lovingly or childishly, Mercado’s flashy and theatrical image was poked at in comedy shows, interviews and in general.

“Mucho Mucho Amor” is a celebration of a life that touched so many Latin homes. We sense “the beating energy of Mercado’s legacy as someone who just wanted to disperse magic and healing hope to his audience.”

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