What is the DEAL with Charo?

by:   |   Apr 14 2014

gal charo guitar tv

Part Sofia Vergara, part chihuahua, and part helium balloon, Charo is one of the cutest and weirdest showbiz characters ever. In case you’re not familiar, Charo was a pop-culture oddity who appeared on late-night shows lichrally dozens of times during the ’70s and ’80s. The host would giggle at her shitty English, she’d do some kind of cutesy dance or musical performance, and the audience would react with thunderous applause. Throughout each segment, she’d repeat her catchphrase: “Cuchi cuchi!”

(Fast-forward to 2:55 for the interview, if you can manage to skip past her awesome song and amphetamine-fueled dance moves)

But Charo is so much more than just her double cuchi—she has one of the weirdest and coolest backstories ever. She was born in Spain—her actual birth name is María del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza, which I am typing out exactly one time—then studied guitar as a kid. She also may or may not have gotten married at age 13 (reports/record-keeping were hazy back then, but wow). Eventually, she got a gig as a Vegas headliner in the ’70s, out-earning even Frank Sinatra.

Here’s Tiny Baby Charo, palling around with/being condescended to by Dean Martin, who she also out-earned in Vegas (GIT IT, GURL):

Since she’s better known for her cramazing wigs and cutesy behavior, most people probably don’t know that Charo is a ridiculously talented flamenco guitarist. Like, incredible:

And since she was known primarily as a Latin sex bomb, I guess it’s not that surprising that her musical talents got overlooked in favor of her other…talents.

gal charo boobs

Later, she became a camp icon, and made an appearance on Pee Wee’s infamously-the-best-thing-ever Christmas special.

gal charo pee wee

She’s even been “done” on Drag Race!

gal charo giphy

Since her musical heyday, she’s appeared in a ton of ads and done cameos on everyone and their mom’s TV shows, including Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23, on which she played a guardian angel. And she has wholeheartedly embraced her gay fanbase—she was the Grand Marshal of the SF LGBT Pride Parade in 2008, and rode on a float surrounded by lovely Charo pretenders.

gal charo pride

Glamorous, goofy, crazy-talented, fearless, and all-out fun, Charo is our kind of GAL. We hope you pop that cuchi forever, lady.

gal charo guitar

P.S. We’ll leave you with this, her performance of “Please Don’t Stop the Music” at the Jerry Lewis Telethon in 2009. There are no words.

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The Co-Founder and Ed-in-Chief of G.A.L.