At the height of his decades-long career on Spanish-language television, Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado reached about 120 million people with his inspirational Zodiac sign readings. Now, eight months after his death, Mercado is poised to reach millions more; Mucho Mucho Amor, a documentary about the famed mystic’s life, debuts on Netflix this week.
Co-directors Kareem Tabsch and Cristina Costantini and producer Alex Fumero began working on the film after Mercado’s moving-out-of-Miami estate sale in 2017 attracted a surprising number of young people and got the three filmmakers talking about the Puerto Rican icon’s legacy. Mercado began as a dancer and actor, but found fortune using his flair for the dramatic as an astrologist on TV shows such as Primer Impacto. He drew comparisons to celebrities such as Liberace with his flamboyant, sequin-adorned capes and robes, his coiffed blonde hair, and his augmented facial features, which only added to his mystique. Despite never having come out as gay or non-binary, Mercado became an LGBQT icon for preaching acceptance and breaking gender norms on Spanish-language TV over his long career.
“He was on-camera for 50-plus years and so he had 50-plus years of rehearsed answers to every question. He didn’t dwell on the negative or the ugly parts of life. The challenge was getting him to open up about things he did not want to talk about.”
Fumero and Tabsch spoke with LEVEL about getting to know Mercado as they filmed in his San Juan home — and what they hope viewers discover about the man who was so ubiquitous on television for so many years.
LEVEL: What convinced the three of you that Walter would be such an interesting subject for a documentary?
Alex Fumero: We all grew up watching him, and he was this commanding presence in our living rooms…