Ricky Martin is sitting in his dressing room backstage at Marquis Theater in New York. Black sneakers unzipped, he sprawls out on the carpet floor in front of a handful of seated journalists before reconsidering and hopping into a velvet armchair instead. On the walls of his dressing room, otherwise bare, Martin's hung black-and-white photographs of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin ("I collect vintage originals") and family portraits of him with his twin boys ("I'm the single father of twins. That's very important to understand"). Music and family pretty much sum up his biggest priorities.
But the 40-year-old singer and current "Evita" star has others, of course. Martin is a spokesperson for Viva Glam, meaning that 100 percent of the proceeds from his line of MAC Cosmetics lip balm gets donated to the MAC AIDS Fund. They've raised over $270 million thus far. And in advance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Martin says he feels passionately about encouraging HIV/AIDS awareness, because "for us [Latinos], sex is a joke." He also stressed the importance of condoms -- "condoms should be everywhere!" -- before switching gears and talking about sundry other topics. Here are some highlights from the conversation Martin had with The Huffington Post.
On whether celebrities have a responsibility to take up a charity or cause:
Yes. I think if we have the opportunity to be in front of the audience, we don’t want to change people, but we can plant a seed and then for them to do whatever they want with that information. How I started working against human trafficking [for the Ricky Martin Foundation] was because I heard about it and then I was like, "Well, I cannot not do anything, if I stay quiet, it’s like allowing it to happen." For many years I did it quietly, because I had this conception people might think I was doing it for recognition, until I talked to real activists who told me, "Dude, you need to talk about this, because people listen." I know many activists who have been doing a beautiful job for many years. Music gave me a fantastic platform to reach masses.
Angelina Jolie, look at what she’s done. Refugees. In that sense, she taught Brad Pitt a lot about it, because he built many houses for victims of Katrina. Nicki Minaj [a fellow Viva Glam spokesperson], look at what she’s doing with this campaign as well. She’s fun and she’s rebellious but when it comes to talking about things that matter, she sits down and says, wait a second, this is intense. Because of the numbers of African women and AIDS, it’s something that touches us.
On supporting President Obama in the election and the Latino vote:
The re-election of our president for me was nothing but light. It was really scary. I'm sorry, but it was really scary if it went the other way, it was going to be like going back in time. As a Latino Puerto Rican U.S. citizen that can vote for the president, it was very beautiful to see minorities getting together for democracy, for freedom, for civil rights. That being the African American community, and the Latino community, the LGBT community. We're part of this country and we move this country as well. We have a voice. And apparently we were very loud.
On coming out:
If I knew how good it felt, I would have done it a long time ago. Something where I'm like, "Can I come out again?" because it really felt amazing ... It's about self-esteem and dignity at the end of the day.
MAC Cosmetics will match each online Viva Glam purchase made on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, doubling the total overall contribution to the MAC AIDS Fund.