Friday, May 28, 2010

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Ricky Martin Appreciation Club?

Yes. Yes, I have.

Tabling for the Ricky Martin Appreciation Club.

It was the tail end of the 20th century, and America was deep in the throes of a Latin Explosion. We were livin' la vida loca and loving it. Or, well, if we weren't all loving it, most of us were tolerating it, anyway. You couldn't walk into a Walgreens without having an Iglesias or Lopez or Aguilera belting at you in Spanglish over the loudspeaker. MTV and VH1 were awash with it (in retrospect, it's funny that we were already complaining that they "didn't show enough music anymore"). After a few months of this, even my dad knew who Ricky Martin was, and if that isn't a sign of mainstream success, I'm not sure what is.

My roommate Laura fell firmly into the "loving it" category. I had more ambiguous feelings toward the Ricky Martin machine; it wasn't really my kind of music (bear in mind that I was in my "if it's popular it must be crap" phase, which must have been insufferable in its own right), but it was catchy and more upbeat than the sad bastard music I was listening to all the time so I could see its appeal. And Laura's enthusiasm was infectious - she's one of those people with the rare quality of being able to devote herself completely to something while still being capable, and highly willing, to make fun of it. She loved Ricky, but she loved making fun of him, too. That combination's pretty hard to resist.

And that's probably how I got talked into going to a Ricky Martin concert.

On our way to a Ricky Martin concert, December 1999.

Walking into the Ricky Martin concert, 1999.
(December 1999)

The next fall, when we were starting our senior year at college, the two of us were bantering back & forth one night about what it took to start an officially sanctioned club on our campus.

Me: "So wait--all you need is four people and an advisor?"

Laura: "Yeah, that's it. I thought there'd be more hoops to jump through than that. There's no screening process or anything."

Me: "Oh my god, we should start a club. A ridiculous club. Like, the Ricky Martin club or something."

I was kidding. (Mostly.)

By the next day, Laura had recruited two other students to serve as officers, and got her choir director to sign off as our advisor.

Game on.

We scheduled our first meeting, and Laura (President) designed posters to hang around campus. We couldn't keep them on the walls - as soon as we'd hang them up, people were stealing them left & right. We sat at a table in the student center with Laura's GIANT Ricky Martin poster taped up behind us...soon, our e-mail list swelled to over 200 people. I'll never forget the time my favorite English professor walked by and almost did a spit-take when he saw me (Vice President) sitting behind the Ricky Martin Appreciation Club (more affectionately referred to as RMAC) table.

Now, 200 people never showed up to one of our meetings; I think the most we ever got was around 15-20, and almost all of those people were our friends. We did have a few strangers show up - one guy was
really into Latin dancing, and I think there was a foreign exchange student who came by a few times, too. Laura was a top-notch P.R. person, and got a blurb written about us in the student newspaper, and got us written up in a national college affairs magazine, too. And I remember driving down the hills through pea-soup fog one morning to do a radio appearance on 92.1 in Duluth - only for something that goofy would I get up at 5:00 A.M.

And we scheduled Ricky Martin Appreciation Club events - when Walmart was premiering one of his videos one Friday or Saturday night, we went up and camped out in the electronics department for a while, much to the amusement of the electronics department staff. When Christmas of 2000 rolled around, we had a birthday party for Ricky (he was born on 12/25, so it seemed apt to refer to him as "our savior") and busted a pinata in his honor (even though it was the dead of winter in Minnesota and we were finding frozen bits of candy underneath the show for months after the fact).

It was absolutely ludicrous, and an absolute blast.

Putting up posters for the Ricky Martin Appreciation Club, 2000.

An official RMAC function wherein we went to Walmart to watch a Ricky Martin video premiere, November 2000.

A pinata for Ricky's birthday.

After our senior year, the club disbanded; I graduated in the spring of 2001, and Laura was leaving to do a semester at Disneyworld that fall so there was no one left to carry the torch for Ricky and his bon-bon. But oh, we'd had a good run, and truly, we'd lived la vida loca.

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