His sizzling turn in Broadway's "Evita" may earn him a nightly standing ovation, but as he enters his dressing room at New York's Marquis Theater, Ricky Martin is the casual antithesis of the bon-bon-shaking superstar who sang about "livin' la vida loca."
Despite his calm demeanor less than two hours before hitting the stage, Martin is now working at a pace that recalls his late 1990s heyday, and anyone concerned that the Latin crooner would regret declaring himself a "fortunate homosexual man" in 2010 would be happy to know that the risk appears to have paid off. Though he'll depart "Evita" in January, Martin is set to mentor a new generation of hopeful stars on the Australian version of "The Voice" early next year, and recently inked a deal with NBC to develop his own television series, which he simply describes as a "dramedy."
"If I knew how good it would feel, I would have done it a long time ago," Martin recalls of his coming out experience. "Sometimes I'm like, 'Can I come out again?' because it really felt amazing…I had no idea what the reaction was going to be; I just did it because I needed to feel free and happy. It's been beautiful."
But Martin's passions have always extended beyond performance art, and as the current spokesperson for Viva Glam, he's helping to raise millions for the MAC AIDS Fund through sales of his MAC Cosmetics lip conditioner line. On the eve of World AIDS Day, Martin says he considers global prevention of HIV/AIDS a responsibility that he takes very seriously.
"It's really sad when people say, 'Yeah, that's an issue for gays,' because it's not only the gay community that's struggling with AIDS -- it's [heterosexual] men, women and children, too," he says. Describing his earlier philanthropic work in preventing human trafficking as being very much interconnected to HIV/AIDS awareness, he added, "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.'"
If the framed photograph of him with President Barack Obama that rests on his dressing room table is any indication, Martin is certainly pleased with the U.S. election results.
"The re-election of our president was, for me, nothing but light," Martin, who hosted an Obama fundraiser in May and stood beside first lady Michelle Obama at a Florida rally in November, explains. "If we 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."
He then concluded, "What he's done for the LGBT community…really is beautiful. It's historical to have a president saying, 'Marriage equality…let's move this forward!"
On Dec. 1, MAC Cosmetics will mark World AIDS Day by doubling its donations to the MAC AIDS Fund by matching the sale of Viva Glam products including Ricky's lip conditioner. For more information, click here.