When I was three or four years old, I was in love with Raffaella Carrá, an Italian performer famous throughout Europe and Latin America. She was considered to be very provocative due to her outfits, dancing and for revealing her perfect navel and legs, which made quiet family men break out in a cold sweat and of course fantasize about being with her. I was too little to realize what exactly it was about her that I liked and was so drawn to, but when my family would ask me why I liked Raffaella Carrá, I would simply answer by telling them I liked her because she didn’t wear a bra. I mean, I was a three or four year old boy, how the heck would I know if she wore a bra or not?? But I knew I liked how bold and secure she was.
A few years later, I remember very clearly, being in my parent’s bedroom floor coloring in a coloring book while my parents got ready to go out that evening. While getting ready, they had the TV on and Madonna’s video “Material Girl” came on, and I remember thinking, wow, she’s very pretty and so cool! From that moment on, I was pretty much hooked. My infatuation was so odd and extreme, I even recruited my family members to cut out any picture they saw of Madonna in magazines or any other publication, and give to me to collect. My bedroom wall was covered from top to bottom in Madonna pictures gathered from magazines, newspapers, posters, etc. I no longer collect her pictures as I used to, but I still am very interested in what she’s doing. Her music, movies, appearances, concerts, etc.
Just recently I began wondering exactly why I’m…well, obsessed with Madonna. I’ve been into her as a person, her music, her videos, her movies (yes, despite her acting abilities) since I was eight years old. For some reason, there was something I was so drawn to…and being so young, I had no idea what it was. I just felt this instant interest, the same exact interest I had when I first saw Raffaella Carrá on TV. This immediate and ongoing attraction, which I never really gave much thought to and simply accepted it and went along with, finally reached a point where it needed some figuring out. Why the interest? Why the infatuation and why the endearment toward this woman? She’s obviously very influential, but the interest I have I feel goes beyond the usual likes and dislikes we develop towards celebrities. There’s something deeper there.
A few weeks ago, I came across a YouTube video of Raffaella Carrá, and I was amazed to see the similarities between her and Madonna. I hadn’t seen any videos or photos of Raffaella Carrá since I left Guatemala back in 1990. No wonder my interest was instant and easily transferred from Rafaella to Madonna. Raffaella was stimulating, overly sexual, confident not only with herself and with her body, but among men as well. Just like Madonna has been since the minute I saw her. They are both blond most of the time, both with an edge for fashion, and both have a gap on their front teeth - Raffaella’s is much more subtle, but it’s there! These similarities and traits made me realize that perhaps that the confidence and presence they have is what I wanted or needed from the female guidance and authority figures in my life. My partner Ricky brought this to my attention a few years back, but I didn’t really take the time to think about it in depth. I agreed, but left it at that.
Growing up in a machista culture in Guatmala, where a lot of women are submissive to men and cater to their every need, made it easy for me to immediately admire and look up to that complete opposite and foreign attitude and behavior from these women. Having moved to the US when I was 14, Rafaella Carrá was no longer available to me, but Madonna certainly was…and during the time where she was at the top and pretty much in everyone’s face. During that drastic change in my life, the only constant and unaffected feeling was how I viewed and felt about Madonna. What she made me feel, what she made me want and what she made me look for in my own life. She introduced me to A LOT of subjects I was completely ignorant about…and most of all, she made me feel completely okay about being who I was. I didn’t fully know, much less accept being gay, but I did know that people like Madonna would be very accepting of me and would not see any differences besides the obvious. Her vibe of being well-rounded gave me something to hold on to and to appreciate. I felt accepted, welcomed and could relate to her in many levels. What she has been doing, accomplishing, and the strength and ambition required, is what I truly admire and respect. I wish I would have had that level of comfort, confidence and sense of self instilled on me by the strong and beautiful women in my family. Instead, I learned indirectly from them…“behind the scenes” you could say. They definitely shaped and molded me to be the person I am today; and I’m very thankful to have had the exposure I had growing up to individuals like Madonna and Raffaella Carrá. They gave me the other side of what I needed and wanted from the role models in my life. Not to say the women in family don't offer that, they just did so in a different way.
One of the highlights of my life; was being able to go to a Madonna concert with my mother and my partner, and share with them what I have always gained so much joy, energy and motivation from. Also, the fact that two of my women role models where in the same place at the same time and both benefiting from each others’ energy, was simply memorable. I will never forget that.