Gerardo on Foot Fetishes, Prince Parties and Jesus’ Take on ‘Rico Suave’
You’re forgiven for hearing the word “Gerardo” and only thinking of “Rico Suave,” the ubiquitous 1990 track that propelled Gerardo Mejía from a small-time rapper/actor/dancer to a Top 10 artist. Despite the song’s popularity, future attempts at rekindling the Suave failed to have the same effect. But Mejía removed the hair extensions, put a shirt on and persevered behind the scenes, becoming a successful A&R exec at Interscope and guiding the careers of artists like Enrique Iglesias.
The 49-year-old Christian pastor re-introduces himself to the public in Suave Says, a new reality show on VH1 focusing on the rapper and his family. If you’re mocking him as you read this, he’s probably laughing with you, as the affable, self-effacing musician has long embraced his one-hit wonder past. Rolling Stone hopped on the phone with Gerardo to discuss partying with Prince, buying his own merchandise and foot fetishes.
In the first episode of Suave Says, you tell your daughter, “One day when your dad dies, all the love letters and memorabilia will be worth a lot of money.” What’s the most valuable Gerardo memorabilia in your house right now?
I got the original hair extensions, but I don’t know what those are worth.
Was that your idea or a record executive with terrible style?
Dude, I’m blaming Jimmy Iovine on that right now. I had shot the “Rico Suave” video in Acapulco and did a Spanish version of it. When I got signed and I was going to do an English version, I had just got done doing a TV movie and my hair was short. Jimmy told me, “We’re going to do another video and call it ‘the Spanglish version,’ but we have to do some new footage.” I had cut my hair and he said, “Don’t worry. I’m going to get you extensions.” He sent me to somebody and I came back looking like the Last of the Mohicans. My hair was long and once I had my hair like that, there was no going back, bro.
Did anyone tell you it looked a little corny or were you only dealing with Yes Men?
When you’re up there like that and MTV is playing your video to death, there are no real people around you that will tell you the truth. Everything is like, “Oh my God, yeah. Great idea!”
Is it weird that the Rico Suave doll you show in the episode looks like an attractive woman?
[Laughs] Six years after “Rico Suave,” I was in a Spencer Gifts and ran into the doll and was like, “Oh my God.” I picked it up. It’s funny because I’ll go to eBay as somebody else and search for myself and buy stuff.
Wait, you log in as someone else?
Yeah, man. If they know it’s me, they’re going to charge me a bundle. So I try to cheapen it and make it look like I’m someone else.
If I was an eBay seller and saw that Gerardo was buying one of my Gerardo dolls, I’d probably just give it to you for free for the story.
Naw, bro. It doesn’t work like that. To this day, whether I’m looking for a house or car or whatever, people see Rico Suave and think “Money.”
I milked that song more than anybody had milked their song before.
What’s the most you’ve paid for one of your own products?
Oh they’re not that expensive. [Laughs] The most was $30 for my poster where I was shirtless, but it was overseas so that was mostly shipping costs. I hope this show brings out more memorabilia that I can get because I think it’s hilarious.
What was the weirdest thing you saw with your face on it?
I think the pillows. To me, it’s weird that you get to sleep with my face on your ear.
In your womanizing days, did you ever leave a woman’s apartment the next morning and put a pillow in your place to fool her you were still there?
No. I don’t think I carried my own pillow around with me.
You say on the show, “In this house, I like men to wear their socks.” Is that a suave thing or hygienic thing?
[Long pause, stammers] Okay, you might think I’m freaky, my homie. When I met my wife, the first thing I did was take off her shoes. I have a foot fetish. I love women’s feet. My wife had beautiful feet and I married her. But the thing with the guys is the total opposite. I can’t see a guy’s foot. It drives me up the wall. All my life, I walked around in socks. If you talk to my wife, I have the softest feet you’ll ever find because I’m never barefoot. And in my house, if a guy is walking around barefoot, it’s like, “Ugh.” It’s disrespectful.
Let’s go back to your foot fetish. If I’m a girl in the Nineties and I go home with you, will you stare at my feet the whole time?
Before we went home, I would’ve already looked at them. Before girls met me, my road manager used to put them against a wall and take off their shoes. They had to have a nice pedicure.