Simply put, the prototypical Latin papi can be defined as a good-looking, ass-shaking, seductive man from a Spanish-speaking country. Whether you despise or cherish that imagery is entirely up to you, but, without getting into the pros and cons of the label, let’s do a brief analysis of some of the most prominent papi pop stars in Latinoland. Why? Because these people are largely responsible for the stereotype.
Note: this is a very short list because I ran out of time/interest to write about other possible inductees (Marc Anthony, Ricardo Arjona, Miguel Bosé, Ricky Martin, etc). If you’re feeling creative and have nothing better to do with you life, write up your own profiles in the comments.
Why are thou, Romeo?
Tough on the outside, soft — really soft — on the inside
Although fully established as a deeply philosophical papi, Romeo Santos is a newcomer compared to the rest of the dudes on this list. But even if his timeline is lacking in length, Anthony’s cheeseball factor seems to extend beyond any foreseeable limit. After all, we’re talking about a big, tall, imposing man who, somewhat hilariously, makes women cream their panties by singing his entire repertoire in a Mariah Carey–like falsetto. You have to understand, people, there’s so much love and melodrama emanating from Santos, that he had no choice but to name himself after one of Shakespeare’s most tragically romantic characters. (BTW, if Romeo ever voices a cartoon character, it should be a helium-addicted Pepé Le Pew.)
Bukiness is next to godliness
Marco Antonio Solís is the ultimate suave papi. His Jesus-like appearance used to freak you out when you were a kid, but he’s been making your mother swoon since before you were born. In fact, it’s highly possible that you were conceived to his music. Understand that not very many men can successfully rock a headband. But don’t let his godly, dilf-like appearance fool ya; back in the ’80s, while producing her music, “el Buki Mayor” engaged in a scandalous relationship with Marisela, whom at the time was underage and barely spoke Spanish. God is in the details, kids, so remember: the devil is supposed to be one of the most beautiful angels.
Like father, like son
The papi with daddy issues
In the early ’90s Enrique Iglesias used to portray himself as an innocent ballader. He was just a pretty boy singing pretty songs. Oh, sure, Quique’s pedigree was grand and renown—his father a best-selling artist, his mother a wealthy aristocrat—but he was just a timid, awkward kid who wore oversize long-sleeved shirts while singing in front TV cameras. Fast-forward to this decade and Enrique is now the kind of guy who nonchalantly leans on half-naked women while bragging about being “a freak.” Dude got rid of his dorky demeanor the same way he got rid of his mole. Just like Julio, his father — with whom Enrique has a very passive-aggressive relationship — Quique has been very successful at selling his Latin papi persona to the world. Good for him and all, but it should be noted that 80% of his fan base are now fist-pumping bros and their female counterparts.
Don’t look directly at the sun
The kind-of-a-dick papi (and that’s why people like him)
A papi is known as much for his music as for his womanizing (Mariah Carey, Stephanie Salas, Daisy Fuentes, Myrka Dellanos, Aracely Arámbula, Lucía Méndez, etc.), “el Sol de México” could easily be in a category of his own. Mostly because everybody deals with Luis Miguel on his terms and not the other way around. Meaning you don’t grant him an interview, a magazine cover, or live coverage—no, he grants those to you. And while many established artists still rely on big media to promote their work (see everyone else on this list), it’s been years since Luis Miguel last spoke to a legit reporter, showed up to an awards show, or posed for a photo. Social media? Like, communicating with some dirty peasant over the interwebz? No, thanks. Luis Miguel and his supposedly small penis don’t need that kind of lowbrow attention.
Surprisingly, even with all of his stuck up, bitchy behavior, Luis Miguel’s concerts always sell out and gossip shows, such as El Gordo y La Flaca and Ventaneando, constantly report even the most mundane details of his life.
Time to waltz
The spot-on, perfect papi
Elmer Figueroa Arce, aka Chayanne, is actually a prime example of a Latin papi. Think about it: he’s a great dancer, a decent singer and, unlike the rest of the dudes on this list, he’s never been involved in any sort of media scandal, which makes him a class act. Plus Chayanne is never going to ask some whack singer, such as Pitbull or Usher, to groan and moan all over his tracks. Most importantly, Elmer understands his limitations and never goes over his head. He makes two kinds of songs, and two kinds of songs only: the romantic ballad and the upbeat club hit. No hip-hop crossover, no dubstep foolishness. And did you see Chayanne dance “Tiempo de vals” with his own daughter? This man is the perfect, dreamy dad.
María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career
According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.
Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.
Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:
“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”
Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:
“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”
If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:
Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”
I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.
I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”
I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”
She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”
I wasn’t following her logic.
“Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.
“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.
“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”
I stared at her in disbelief.
She stood up and walked towards the doorway.
“Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.
From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.