Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor Looks at Legend Walter Mercado’s Life
On November 2, 2019, the world had lost an icon, Walter Mercado Salinas, the Puerto Rican astrologer, actor, dancer, writer, and best-known TV astrologer to Spanish speaking audiences across the globe, reaching nearly 120 million daily at one point in his television career. Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor looks at legend Walter Mercado’s life behind and in front of the television screen.
✨???????????? The trailer for MUCHO MUCHO AMOR is out! ✨✨✨ I worked on this film for two and half years w the brilliant @kareemtabsch & @AngryYuca, can’t wait for it to premiere on Netflix on July 8! ✨????????????✨ pic.twitter.com/q85HYUbHFR
— Cristina Costantini (@xtinatini) June 29, 2020
Prior to the film being picked up and produced by Netflix, ‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ gained attention at the Sundance Film Festival. The team behind ‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ are award-winning documentarians and directors Cristina Costantini (Science Fair), Kareem Tabsch (The Last Resort), and producer Alex Fumero (I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson). The ‘MMA’ team had troubles getting the film financed until they arrived at the doorsteps of Netflix offices and met a Netflix Latino producer who understood Latinx culture and the power of Walter Mercado’s story and pushed for its documentary film to be shown.
“Mucho Mucho Amor’ takes us through a 2-yr span of recording and footage.
Interviews with family, friends, celebrities who rave about him including playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda who like many of us, grew up with Mercado. Generations of Latinx households, in fact, grew up watching the star astrologer that Mercado was. Friends and family also account for the betrayal and disappointments Mercado went through in the entertainment industry and business dealings.
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Over the decades, Mercado had built a persona, a brand and loyalty among his audiences that spanned generations. His stage name was ‘Shanti Ananda’ but we all knew him just by ‘Walter Mercado’ or ‘el Shanti’.
Mercado BROUGHT IT to every show segment. His appearance was ambiguous yet fabulous. Mercado’s gender non-conforming style kept his audiences curious, yet always wanting more from Mercado. Mercado’s capes or robes were adorned, painted and custom-made by renowned designers like Versace. Over the decades as Mercado’s popularity grew so did his cape collection became more ornate ‘Liberace-style’. A few of his capes/robes were donated to a museum. Today, most of his robes/capes are no longer in possession of family as they have been sold through private auctions.
“He was a superhero.” stated in one of the interviews in ‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ in which he defied all of society’s expectations. In an era of 80s, 90s and within Latinx culture, where tradition, masculine ideals were projected onto the television screen, Mercado took the ‘I don’t care’ pill.
Mercado was an icon ahead of his time for sure.
Sadly, ‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ dives into the dark times of Mercado’s life and businesses when Mercado fell into legal issues with a business partner centered around the “Walter Mercado” trademark as well as Mercado’s name and likeness. Ultimately, Mercado and his company, Astromundo, applied for the Walter Mercado trademark but lost. Mercado was later sued by his business partner for breach of contract and trademark law violations. Mercado countered the lawsuit of his own with unpaid compensation of nearly $700K and trademark infringement. Mercado had lost once again in the fight for his name in commercial ventures.
Mercado later established the Shanti Ananda foundation, a center for Puerto Rican youth.
Walter Mercado was an icon that gave us hope and love daily just by saying con ‘mucho mucho amor’ (Mercado’s famous sign-off phrase) to look to the stars always. He was magic.