For over 50 years, Walter Mercado was a staple in each and every Latinx household giving all of us daily horoscope readings. Now whether or not you believe in the power of the stars or the science of astrology, the new Netflix documentary, Mucho Mucho Amor, offers something for everyone.
What makes this documentary so enthralling is that we finally uncover the mystery of the man behind the capes. For so long, Walter Mercado was just the man we saw on television 15 minutes a day telling us our future. But in this documentary, we learn everything from his upbringing in Puerto Rico, how he found his big break, and the betrayals he experienced during his journey to success.
Of those intricate facets, the most interesting is the film’s discussion of Mercado’s sexuality. While dressing at the same level of luxurious flamboyancy as Liberace, Mercado’s sexuality was always something he kept private from his fans. Questions regarding his sexuality and even gender are broached in this film. While answers to those questions remain ambiguous, his influence on the LGBTQIA+ community was not. It was clearly impactful, especially when it clashed with the traditional and religious views on homosexuality that many people in Hispanic communities have.
Mercado’s upbringing, sexuality, and success are interesting in their own right, but those topics are expected to be discussed in a documentary on the legendary astrologer. What was not expected and surprised me are the themes of life and death focused on throughout the film. During the filming of this documentary, we are following Walter Mercado at age 87 during his final days on earth. (He passed away on November 2, 2019.) To see Mercado, who spent a career predicting the future of others, facing the cruelty of his own mortality without knowledge of how his end would come was truly gripping.
While that may cast a dark tone over the documentary, directors Kareem Tabsch and Cristina Costantini contrasted its darker themes with Mercado’s famous persona, ultimately making a documentary that reflected Walter Mercado’s personality. His personality in many ways mirrored his fancy capes and sparkling jewelry; Mercado was simply larger than life. He carried child-like energy even into his later years that seemed to gain even more strength whenever he was surrounded by cameras and, most of all, his adoring fans.
Now that the days of Walter Mercado reading us our horoscope are over, he leaves us with one last message as the film draws to a close. While death may be the inevitable destination for us all, our lives should not quiver at the sight of that end. Instead, be filled with happiness knowing that the journey to that end was filled with lots and lots of love.
Mucho Mucho Amor debuts on July 8, streaming only on Netflix.