Nothing endears Mexican diva Paquita la del Barrio to her fans more than the knowledge that, like them, she has suffered in life.
Despite having recorded more than 30 albums that have sold a collective 20 million copies, Paquita manages to convey the attitude of a woman scorned but still bravely smiling through her smeared mascara.
When Paquita belts out a ranchera, then turns to male members of her audience and asks, "Are you listening to me, you good-for-nothing?," there's an obvious camp value. But Paquita's female followers also know that the artist knows whereof she sings, having been the victim of male infidelity herself.
As the L.A. Times' Sam Quinones once perceptively wrote: "Paquita is Mexico's most popular female singer, a cross between Tammy Wynette and Katie Webster. Her songs are about unfaithful men and women who make them suffer for their transgressions. To many women in her audience, for whom part of life's struggle is abusive and faithless husbands," Paquita's performances are "sweet, vicarious revenge."
That was written a dozen years ago, and Paquita is still channeling her fans' emotions with her Wagnerian stage presence. On Wednesday she was honored with a star on El Paseo de la Fama de Plaza México in Lynwood, and on Saturday she'll be performing at the Nokia Theatre in L.A., where she commands a large, loyal fan base.
No doubt the majority of the audience will be female, but well-behaved men are welcome too.
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