"Mexican Madonna" at South Beach Tonight
Trevi’s bio reads like an especially lurid telenovela. In 1980, the singer, who turns 40 next month, left her native Monterrey for Mexico City, where she sang on the street, taught aerobics and briefly joined the group Boquitas Pintadas before being discovered by future husband/manager Sergio Andrade. Her first album, 1989’s Que Hago Aqui?, made her a star on the strength of No. 1 single “Dr. Psiquiatra” and several other hits. After signing to RCA/BMG’s Latin division, she had sold more than five million albums by her 25th birthday.
Things didn’t quite work out that way. In the late ‘90s, Mexican authorities began investigating charges of kidnapping, sexual abuse and corrupting minors leveled against Trevi and Andrade by several Mexican singers who alleged the pair brought them to their home for purported musical training, but actually ensnared them in a nightmarish web of sex slavery and rape. Their stories were splashed all over the Latin American media, and in 1999 Mexican prosecutors brought charges against Trevi, Andrade and their choreographer/backup vocalist Mary Boquitas, but before they could be apprehended by the police, the trio fled to South America.
Brazilian authorities captured the trio in Rio de Janeiro in 2000, beginning a long extradition battle between the Brazilian and Mexican governments. While in prison, Trevi became pregnant with a child she originally claimed to be the issue of a guard who had raped her but a DNA test revealed to be Andrade’s. (Some speculated the couple bribed the guards into allowing them conjugal visits.) In late 2002, Trevi and Boquitas were finally extradited to Mexico, with Andrade following a few months later. “In Mexico, Trevi’s return was every bit the media circus the O.J. Simpson trial had been in the U.S.,” notes All Music Guide. Trevi remained behind bars until her case was dismissed in September 2004 for lack of evidence.
Once out of prison, Trevi recorded the album Como Nace el Universo and resumed touring. She seemed to suffer no loss of popularity – many in Mexico believed she had simply come under the spell of the Svengali-like Andrade, which Trevi herself told the Chihuahuan judge who dismissed her case – selling out arenas in Monterrey and Mexico City. New York Times Magazine and Esquire writer Christopher McDougall wrote a well-received account of Trevi’s fascinating, twisted story in his 2004 book Girl Trouble: The True Saga of Superstar Gloria Trevi and the Secret Teenage Sex Cult that Stunned the World. – Chris Gray