10 Songs, 31 Minutes


About Gerardo Reyes

A musical variety show on television featuring a somewhat chubby singer of Mexican ranchera numbers is suddenly interrupted by a strange masked criminal named Magnus, who announces he is about to present the kidnapping of a famous actress, live on television. Reality or fiction? It is the latter, but with a dash of the former since the singer, Gerardo Reyes, is actually playing himself, although not quite. Beginning his professional career sometime after the end of the second World War as a restaurant singer in his native Mexico, Reyes has become something of a father figure or "padre" to the entire Latin music community. He has cut dozens of albums in a variety of styles while heading up and collaborating with countless different bands. The man who is a popular choice for the honor of "el Padrino of the Cinco de Mayo" festivals in many Mexican cities doesn't have to wait until May 5 to be honored in karaoke bars, where his tracks are frequent choices among those wanting to sing along in Spanish. It is pretty hard to examine any aspect of Mexican culture without running into Reyes: He even shows up on episodes of the extremely popular series of films starring Santo, the infamous masked wrestler superhero. The cinematic masterpiece with the English title of Santo Vs. the TV Killer was the source of the scene described above, one of several films in which Reyes portrays Reyes, although the screen character of the singer seems to keep even busier than the real-life Reyes. In the Santo films, Reyes' character is also a reporter and police agent. Ironically, a superb investigative reporter with the same name really did begin writing for Miami's Nuevo Herald in the '90s, although there is no connection. The screen character of Reyes writes for El Sol de México, however, and that is actually a real newspaper. Reyes acted in a fair number of films in the chaotic Mexican film industry in the late '70s and early '80s, of which the Santo series, classified as "lucha" cinema, seems to have gotten the most attention, though this is not the result of great quality. The genre of films featuring masked Mexican wrestling heroes has been studied in depth by students of so-called "camp," supposedly productions considered so bad that they are actually good, or at least that has always been the philosophy behind watching these films. The camp corner seems mixed on Reyes, whose recordings and bands actually are good, not bad/good. Other singers who appeared in this series, such as Jorge Rivero, are considered to be more suitably buff physically and thus worthier of inclusion in action films. ~ Eugene Chadbourne



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