Getting Martinized

Your friends and neighbors have caught Ricky fever. Are you next?

Included in the hilarity:

Martin described the over-weening power ballad "I Am Made of You" as "like having a one-to-one conversation with God." As it neared its conclusion, a mammoth, saucer-like rig with a hole at its center was lowered over him, and after stepping onto it and beginning a slow ascent toward the roof, he held a Jesus-meets-Neil Diamond pose (head thrown back, arms extended at his sides) for a good thirty seconds. Even though he wound up in the same place where the fire had flared up, he didn't burst into flames like Michael Jackson, another onetime Pepsi plugger.

In part two of the opening film, Martin, with reporters and camera vultures still in pursuit, made his way into a nightclub, where a suave vocalist wearing a black fedora was holding court. When Ricky tried to discover just who this fabulous talent was, the man in the spotlight revealed himself to be -- Ricky! Seconds later, all of Martin's male dancers arrived wearing similar black fedoras, revealing themselves one by one until the real star grabbed the microphone by the throat again. The movie ended later in the show, when an orgasmic burst of ectoplasm gave birth to a whole slew of Ricky Martin star children. Look what you've wrought, Arthur C. Clarke.

During a love-song duet with the band's female vocalist, Martin never once went near her. The closest the two of them came was toward the conclusion, when he was descending down one of the set's poles and she was ascending; they reached toward each other across the central video screen, with her seeming much more determined to reach him than he was to get to her.

Twice during the concert, Martin divided the arena in half for audience-participation segments. In the first, which he said was intended to be a "healthy competition," he convinced his boosters to alternately whip their arms from side to side over their heads, repeat the movement down low, rub their hands together in exaggerated fashion, and massage their tummies. Later, he asked his followers to join him in shaking their hips, but only after first pointing to his sides with a look of surprise and amusement on his face. He insisted that folks of every age could keep up with his caboose-wagging as long as "you trust your heart and your soul."

For an encore, Martin emerged from beneath the stage sitting on a sofa, where he crooned the lachrymose "She's All I Ever Had" while stretching out his bare feet. During the instrumental passages of the song, he slowly moved his head from one side of the arena to the other while squinting his eyes and pouting dramatically, to make sure that no section failed to feel the heat of his smoldering gaze.

All of this, however, was mere prelude to the concluding version of "The Cup of Life," the song that Martin performed on this year's Grammy Awards telecast, thereby infecting the States with a case of Ricky-mania. As part of the extravaganza, acrobats on elastic tethers flipped and spun on either side of the stage while two more dudes suspended by cables danced on the main video screen. They were still going strong when Martin was suddenly lifted above ground level atop (you had to figure) a tremendous cylindrical erection that kept getting bigger and bigger.

Sure, it was ridiculous, but the little girls understood -- one young woman held a sign that read, "It's my birthday, Ricky, please hug me!"; her companion's placard declared, "Ricky, you're scrumptious!" -- and so did pretty much everyone else. Despite Martin's pretensions toward universal oneness, the resulting sound and fury signified nothing, which no doubt would have frosted the Rage Against the Machine crowd. But as our calendrical odometer gets ready to roll over, most people prefer style, not substance, and Ricky's got plenty of it. Geopolitical discourse is fine, but it can't compare to a really nice butt.

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