Wednesday, January 19, 2022

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Television astrologer Walter Mercado, whose glamorous persona made him a star in Latin media

and a cherished icon for gay people in most of the Spanish-speaking world, has died. He was 88.

Mercado was known throughout Latin American for the melodrama of his daily horoscopes, delivered on internationally broadcast networks such as Univision with an exaggerated trilling of the “r″. He favored colorful brocaded capes and huge gemstone rings, which he flashed while pointing at viewers.

Mercado never publicly discussed his sexual orientation but his screen presence was a source of comfort for many people in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities throughout Latin American and Latin communities in the U.S., said Alex Fumero, a Los Angeles-based producer who has spent two years working on a documentary about him.

“This is a culture that’s been dominated by machismo and homophobia for a very long time,” Fumero said in a phone interview. “He was really brave.”

Fumero said Mercado’s silence on his orientation may have allowed him to keep the adoration of LGBTQ fans and maintain acceptance from conservative Latins who could have rejected an openly gay television star.

Fumero said one LGBTQ activist told him, “You don’t ask about what you can see,” adding that he believes that was the attitude held by many from Mercado’s generation.

“It’s the plausible deniability that chauvinist or homophobic audiences need in order to give Walter the pass that they needed...to enjoy the message he was sending them,” Fumero said.

Fumero said he grew up watching Mercado and recalled his grandmother shushing him every time the astrologer delivered his predictions: “If Walter was on TV, everybody had to be quiet.”

Hospital spokeswoman Sofía Luquis told The Associated Press on Sunday that Mercado died from kidney failure at the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan late Saturday. He had been living in the suburb of Cupey and had spent several days in the hospital before his death.

Mercado was born in Ponce, one of Puerto Rico’s largest cities. Although he took university courses in pharmacology, psychology and pedagogy, he became a well-known dancer and theater actor and also appeared in several soap operas.

He worked briefly for TV stations based in the U.S. Caribbean territory before moving to South Florida, where he joined Univision.

Mercado, whose popularity began to soar in the 1980s, had a collection of more than 2,000 capes, including some with feathers, precious stones and unique embroideries.

His best-known catch phrase was “Above all, lots and lots of love.”

“He is one of those people who used his celebrity and power to reach millions in order to inspire people with good messages,” said Aida Levitan, who helped organize an exhibition in August at the HistoryMiami museum to honor Mercado.

She said hundreds of people showed up and wanted to meet him and take pictures, and he agreed to it all.

“It’s not easy at the age of 88 to face 500 people trying to take pictures. He never lost his cool,” Levitan recalled in a phone interview with the AP. “He used all his gifts and talents for the good of mankind, and that’s what makes him so appealing.”

Mercado, however, also faced some legal battles.

In 1998, he got in trouble for endorsing alleged health and beauty products and was named in a class-action lawsuit that accused him of misleading people into buying beads with supposed special powers. The president of the jewelry company, Unique Gems International Corp., was later sentenced to 14 years in prison for defrauding 16,000 people in a $90 million scam.

In October 2010, Mercado announced he was changing his name to “Shanti Ananda.” That same year, he stopped shooting his segment for the Univision Spanish-language TV channel. Months later, he began to deliver daily horoscopes through El Nuevo Herald newspaper in Miami.

Mercado was hospitalized in December 2011 in Puerto Rico following a cold that turned into pneumonia. His health condition worsened, and he was transferred to a hospital in Ohio. It was later revealed that he had suffered a heart attack.

In 2014, he launched a website called passionlatinos.com that offered horoscopes, online dating and an array of products called “Captivating,” that included fragrances, candles, soaps and body lotions aimed at prosperity, sex, health, peace and love.

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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