No longer hiding his true sexuality from his fans or the public, Ricky Martin is feeling more fearless than ever. As he returns to Broadway, he’s ready to conquer an iconic role and be home for dinner with his boys.
Ricky Martin is ready to settle down. Just days off his first world tour in four years— the first since coming out as gay and the first with his twin sons in tow—the pop superstar plops down on a black leather couch at a Miami studio and describes what it’s like trying to come down from the emotional and physical extremes involved in performing night after night.
“Música + Alma + Sexo was amazing,” Martin says, referring to the tour. “I was able to perform in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, Canada; I performed in front of 70,000 people and in very small arenas for intimate audiences. I was flying high! Then I’m like, ‘How am I going to land?’ ”
Most people would take a break, but Ricky Martin is not most people. In one of the biggest moves of his career and his life, he is returning to Broadway for the first time in 16 years and relocating to New York City with his twin boys and his partner of four years. And he’s even planning on adding to his brood by trying for a daughter. “I think that I’ll do it later on this year, so that [the kids] are not too far apart in ages,” Martin says. “A little girl! Dios mío, me muero. Ave María, qué chulería! But we’re going to talk about that later on. It would be irresponsible to do it now.”
That’s because for now, Martin’s newest baby is Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s beloved musical Evita, which has not been on Broadway since 1983, when the all-star production closed after nearly four years. The updated show, which Martin has been working for almost three years to bring back to the Great White Way, opens in April after a month of previews. Alongside Argentine actress Elena Roger in the title role, Martin will play Che—not the revolutionary but an Argentine “everyman” who narrates the story of the country’s iconic first lady through 15 songs—eight times a week, for, he hopes, a year. “It’s a very challenging musical, and emotionally, very powerful,” he says.
The show may be a challenge, but after months of traveling the world with his sons, Matteo and Valentino, now three-and-a-half years old, the controlled chaos that is live musical theater will help him create structure in his family’s life. “I’m going to be able to wake up in the morning, bring the kids to school before we debut, go to rehearsal and in the afternoon, cook dinner and then go do the show.”
Martin flips through the photos on his cell phone and stops when he gets to one of Matteo, blond and cherubic, smiling while floating in a pool. A flick of the finger on the screen reveals a picture of dark-haired, intense Valentino nestled in a green garden hedge, as if in a Ralph Lauren ad. They are, given their ridiculously telegenic daddy’s genes, predictably gorgeous.
Stars don’t often volunteer to share personal photos of their kids—let alone talk openly about imminent baby-making plans, but since his 2010 announcement on his website that he is “a fortunate homosexual man” and his soul-baring autobiography, Me, 40-year-old Martin is nothing, if not open. “At this point in my life, everything is transparency,” he says.
That includes talking about his boyfriend, Carlos González Abella, the Puerto Rico-based financial advisor and “partner in crime” whom Martin thanked in a speech at a Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation gala where he received an award for his work fighting homophobia. Contrary to rumors that he would marry González Abella in Spain after the country (where gay marriage is legal) granted the singer citizenship late last year, Martin declares it is too soon for a march down the aisle. “We are not talking about it, we’re not thinking about it,” he says. “But I’m so happy that in Europe we have the option. It’s amazing to think that we can say, ‘I feel like it. I’m ready. Let’s go.’ ”
Meanwhile, as a father, Martin has been taking extra pleasure in watching his mellizos grow and change. “Now you can have a conversation with them,” he says. “You can ask them questions and they answer back with their thoughts according to their reality.” More often, it is they who are asking the questions, and one in particular: “Everything is ‘Why?’ ” Martin says.
The inevitable questions about the circumstances of their birth—by egg donor and surrogate mother—have not yet arrived, but when they do, Martin is ready to let them know that “every family is different.” In Matteo and Valentino’s case, their family is a virtual village that begins with Martin and González Abella and stretches out to his parents, five brothers and sisters, an aunt and Martin’s longtime female best friend.
“They have cousins in Puerto Rico that are their same age, so we’ve been staying there most of the time so they can be close to their history,” says Martin, who also has a home in Miami. “They have so much love and it’s unconditional. And in turn, they bring me closer to love.”
The twins—who occasionally join Martin for a few minutes of yoga and meditation—are already imitating their famous father. “You have no idea!” he says. “They grab a mic every day and sing.” Watching Martin perform from backstage during the tour, Matteo would grab drumsticks and “bang on everything.”
It was while on stage that Martin began to notice that the age range of his fans is broader than it has ever been, which he believes may be a consequence of his openness and positivity about his sexuality. “There’s a new generation that’s more open-minded and don’t have issues with what the Church or society has to say,” he says. “I think kids are bringing their families.”
Coming out was liberating “for myself, my family, my core fans,” Martin says. “They feel more in touch with me and I feel more in touch with them. If I feel free, they’re going to feel free and vice versa. It’s contagious.”
Martin has that same attitude when it comes to philanthropy. He recently became part of MAC’s Viva Glam 2012 campaign along with Nicki Minaj, unveiling a lip conditioner whose proceeds will go toward AIDS research funding. The longtime anti-human trafficking activist sees a sad synergy between the two causes: “Unfortunately, children around the world are being affected by AIDS because of human trafficking, prostitution, pornography, etc.” Among his eponymous foundation’s plans is to open a center in Miami for children who are victims of AIDS and trafficking—a place that he hopes will be a part of his kids’ lives. “I will be an example,” he says, “but I can’t force them into anything. I think that it’s something that will be there.”
That’s not to say that there haven’t been detractors. In one particularly vicious verbal attack, a female pastor from Puerto Rico said that Martin’s openness about his sexuality was condemning people to hell. “God is God and he’s not liked by everybody, so why should I be?” Martin says. “[Detractors] are just victims of hate. I wish them love and peace.” He paused and then said with a shrug and a smile: “Anyway, son tres gatos que hacen un poquito de ruido. My thing is love, peace and seguir pa’lante.”
Martin’s balm against hate is lots of meditation, and as always, music. If not a workaholic, Martin is an unrepentant challenge-aholic: For months—while still on tour—he carved out time to work with Evita’s musical director to train his pop voice to do Broadway and work on his acting skills, and he has no problem dealing with the scrutiny that he and his version of the classic musical will endure. “The people, the critics, are going to be expecting a lot,” he says. “It has to be the best.”
Ambitious? You bet. “You have to have the attitude that, ‘You know what? No one will stop me,’ ” he says. “It’s going to be a magical year.”