The English-speaking world had Miss Cleo, and the Spanish-speaking world had Walter Mercado. While one turned out to be a con artist, the other disappeared from public eye without so much as a characteristically dramatic flourish. The legendary Puerto Rican psychic and astrologer captivated the Latin world with his glamorous style, gender-nonconforming persona, and warmhearted cosmic readings. Now, he is poised to reach a new level of fandom with a lovingly crafted documentary about his life and career, directed by Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch. “Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado” premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in January, and will hit screens worldwide on Netflix next week.
Here’s the official synopsis: “Every day for decades, extravagant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming legend Walter Mercado charmed the world with his televised horoscopes. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, Walter reached over 120 million viewers at his peak, enthralling the Latin world with sequined capes, opulent jewelry and horoscopes that shared a message of love and hope to his devoted viewers. Then, he mysteriously disappeared. Over a decade later award-winning directors Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch and producer Alex Fumero capture Walter’s final two years, when the pioneering icon grappled with aging and his legacy, and prepared for one last star-studded spectacle.”
“From the moment that I was born, I knew that I was not like everybody,” Mercado says in the trailer for the film about his life. “Everything about me was different.” With a dizzying array of glittering blazers and luminescent capes, at one point Mercado is seen being escorted on a gilded throne through a crowd of clamoring fans. The film will also explore his mysterious disappearance from public life, which one subject speculates was motivated by a fear of aging in view.
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Costantini was one half of the directing duo (with Darren Foster) behind the thoroughly delightful 2018 documentary “Science Fair,” which charts a group of precocious kids on their quest for fame and glory and to win the international event. The same year, Tabsch co-directed and produced (with Dennis Scholl) the absorbing and visually ripe “The Last Resort,” which unearthed the stunning work of late Miami photographer Andy Sweet, who chronicled the elderly Jewish residents of a changing South Beach.
“Mucho Mucho Amor” hits Netflix on July 8. Check out the extremely fun trailer below.