María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Gutiérrez de los Perales Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Hinojosa Rasten or simply known as Charo is bringing her act around town. The outspoken performer talked cuchi-cuchi, flamenco guitar and Carol Burnett during her sit down with Gozamos.
Gozamos: Hola, Charo! How are you?
Charo: Good, I was looking forward to this interview because I am very excited about performing at this school. This time I am going to take time to give lessons to the kids. I am a serious musician. That cuchi-cuchi is just for money! (both laugh)
You studied guitar your whole life correct?
All my life, that’s my gig and my vibe. I did it for fun and if at the same time you can make a lot of money, wonderful! It took me a long time to introduce who I really am. The majority of producers want excitement and energy. When I pick up the guitar then I have to sit down. This is flamenco guitar not rock and roll. I really sit there and hold the guitar to my heart. I concentrate to make each note sing and give a message to the listener.
It is relaxing to you?
To me, it’s my life. I asked my producer if I could play the guitar. Because it was sweeps he wanted me to shake it and do the cuchi-cuchi. He said, “All the pop singers have a little bit of you in their act and they are getting rich also. Beyonce and Shakira are doing good just following your way. Why do you want to abandon it and play classical flamenco?” I told him, “I am flattered but I already did it.” I was trained as a musician in Murcia, Spain by Andres Segovia for seven years. All I wanted was to be as good as he was, which is impossible, but I came close…
You traveled to America after the training to pursue a new life?
When I came to America it was not the same place that it is now (with the internet). There is no longer a private place. It is global. There has been such a change in the past twenty years that it is beyond belief. All you have to do is push a little button on your laptop and you are everywhere and anywhere. It helps you find out what is in and what is happening.
That is true.
Now it is my time. I am opening a show that is brand new. We guarantee a standing ovation. There is great energy and a beautiful costume. When I play the guitar I don’t have to bother with a big show. Now people can hear me just play. All of this is from my CD Guitar Passion and Charo and Guitar. They are both huge. I won an award for Album of the Year.
So this will be an acoustic performance.
You better be there and see what I am talking about! After I am going to take my time and talk with the children. Because unfortunately, and this goes for the whole world, finances are a problem so education in music is only an alternative. It is important to teach kids culture and career but don’t forget art.
I heard you have something new coming out.
I am planning on introducing a single called “Sexy! Sexy!” It is going to be a big big hit. Already a difficult panel of producers and DJs have voted for it. My son wrote the song thinking he was going to give it to Britney Spears. I told him, “Change your mind, the song is mine!”
That is hilarious! (laughs)
He was laughing exactly like you. He said, “Okay, you can have it.” It is very cute and charming with an incredible down beat. I sent the single to international DJs and they remixed it with their own style. It is very heavy. I have five incredible remixes and they don’t know which one is going to be selected to be the number one. I suggested the one where I play guitar. You will hear a beautiful guitar under the techno. That is me playing. It is part of my signature sound. With my single “Espana Cani” I played guitar and it was one of the best international remixes a year ago.
I heard you played “Don’t Stop the Music” at the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
You know what? Rihanna is very beautiful and has a cute voice. She is her persona. I don’t see any copy at all of anybody else. She has a good range and very lucky that they give her excellent songs. I changed it because God forbid that I copy anybody. I would prefer to sell tomatoes in Tijuana!
No one likes a copycat.
Exactly. They asked me to do this Jerry Lewis event and I said that I would have to do it my way. I did a Spanish version with a touch of techno and salsa. People wrote me by e-mail and said it was better than the original with Rihanna. I added a lot of “baila baila” to it.
Where did the expression cuchi-cuchi come from?
It is an old long story. It is very depressing about my dog. He died before I became rich. I didn’t even give him the ten percent. I used to have a dog and a car or something damaged his back. My grandmother, rest in peace, was an incredible animal lover. She rescued the dog and brought it back to life in her home. He always had a problem after that and when he was happy he shook and walked funny. They gave him to me and he was called “Cuchillo” like knife. I was too young to call him “Cuchillo” so I called him “Cuchi.”
Oh, that makes sense now.
So I copied him. I used to say, “Mira (look) como (like) Cuchi!” and I would make the same movement. That’s the only thing I copy in my life, that dog (laughs).
So that made your career.
When I saw people laugh it gave me attention. It got me out of trouble when I would explain, “Cuchi!” I never got punished when they were laughing. I made it into a business. When I got to America I didn’t speak English and wanted to stay in this country. I am going to Spain in May to promote the new song and will stay only ten days. After that (sings) “I want to live in America.”
Do you feel like America is your home now?
If you interview a thousand immigrants they will tell you the same thing. I have great love and memories for my original country but America is in my veins and in my heart. After a while I always want to go back.
Would you ever do another reality show?
I have an offer. I told the producer that obscenity and out of control direction that they are taking it in is not my style. I go for comedy. It needs to be global and not for a certain type of people. I want people to feel safe watching my reality show. This summer it might be ready for television. I go for the laugh not for the drama. I want fun and a touch of class.
You did the Surreal Life and Dancing With the Stars before so you are no stranger to reality television.
When I went on the Surreal Life I told the producer, “These people suck!” I swear I did. “You brought me here understanding that the show was called House of Music and none of these idiots know anything!” There was a lady dancing around with maracas named Brigitte Nielson and that crazy but adorable Flavor Flav. I said, “Why not call it Enter At Your Own Risk?”
I can’t believe they tricked you!
I wanted to get the hell out of there. They talked me into staying telling me that I would pull the whole thing together. One night I tried to escape and the window was controlled with an alarm. When the alarm started ringing I said, “Oh shit, they got me.” When I stayed I just did my best. I went for the comedy and it was the only Surreal Life for a People’s Choice Award. Every time things get out of control once again I find a way to put a joke on it.
When I was a kid I watched you on Carol Burnett and you were so funny!
Oh my God! My whole world changed, the network went crazy the following day. They got a huge rating that would be immortal forever. The network could not believe it with Carol and her chi chis hanging down to the floor. She is a unique genius comedienne and lady. She deserves everything in the world. I saw her in action and saw how she works. She is like me if something funny goes in her mind then she is going to say it.
Looking forward to seeing your show.
You are going to see this show called Hot Flamenco Nights. There is only one show at 7:30. It is in Palos Hills and someone must be Spanish because of the name. I am going to find a lot of my cousins there because my grandfather fooled around with everything that moved!
(laughs and speaks Spanish) Well we will see you there soon!
Nos vemos pronto y viva la revolucion!
Warm up on a Saturday night on May 14 at 7:30 at the Dorothy Menker Theater, 9000 W College Parkway, Palos Hills, Illinois. Tickets for a taste of Spanish guitar are available at http://www.morainevalley.edu y mucho mas Charo a http://www.charo.com.