For decades, extravagant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic and gender nonconforming icon, Walter Mercado, charmed and inspired his audience via daily televised horoscopes. Mercado became a celebrated part of Latin culture. At his peak, he reached over 120 million viewers.
In Mucho Mucho Amor, Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch tell Mercado’s remarkable story using archive footage, interviews with Mercado himself and insights from many of the key figures in his life.
We see how Mercado transformed from a shy farm boy to become a flamboyant showman - with opulent jewelry, a wardrobe full of sequined capes (each one has a story) and an endearing and enduring message of love and positivity.
Costantini and Tabsch’s documentary also explores the heartbreaking reason why, one day, Mercado mysteriously disappeared.
Despite having never watched Walter Mercado on television (and knowing very little about astrology), I was soon gripped by Mucho Mucho Amor. For a start, Mercado is an absolutely fascinating character. He is wonderfully eccentric and charismatic.
Meanwhile, I think I really needed to hear his message of hope and love in a documentary that has heart to spare.
For the uninitiated, Mercado’s impact is put into context by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda. We learn how he was beloved by many. “For as long as we can remember, each afternoon at a quarter to six, our families’ lives came to a halt,” Costantini and Tabsch explain in a statement about their film.
“In every Latinx household from New York City to Tierra del Fuego, kids, adults, and grandparents alike turned on Walter Mercado,” the directors add. “Walter made the whole world stop, he made us all feel better, and he gave us hope. He was our Oprah Winfrey, our Liberace, our Mr Rogers, all rolled into one. The impression he made on our families has never left us.”
Mercado meant so much to so many people. He was a beacon of hope, a magician, a healer, an entertainer, a queer icon. What Mercado wasn’t, unfortunately, was a businessman. Ultimately, this led to his downfall.
The truth behind Mercado’s disappearance is fascinating. Costantini and Tabsch’s film includes stunning revelations from both sides of a tale characterised by the complicated relationship between art and money.
However, Mucho Mucho Amor reveals that this was far from the end of Mercado’s story. The documentary's final act is dominated by the legacy of love that he inspired. “Today, at a time when xenophobia seems to be at a new high, as Latinos are vilified by those in power and immigrants face increasingly inhumane treatment, Walter’s message is more relevant than ever,” explain Costantini and Tabsch.
“Each day Walter ended his segments with the same message: ‘Que reciban de mi siempre
paz, mucha paz, pero sobre todo mucho, mucho amor’ (may you receive from me always,
peace, lots of peace, but above all, lots and lots of love). Now more than ever these words are vital.”