Best known for her career as a flamenco guitarist and her numerous appearances on TV shows in the 70s such as “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and “The Love Boat,” musician and pop culture icon Charo may not be as big of a celebrity as she was 40 years ago, but her personality is still off the charts.
On the first episode of the new season of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?,” Charo updates viewers on what she is currently doing in her life and talks about raising her son Shel, who joins her for the interview. During an interview with me last week, Charo talked about how she’s changed over the years when it comes to making personal appearances on TV and why she is now entertaining the idea of starring in her own reality show in the near future.
Charo’s episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” airs Sunday, June 8 at 8 p.m. CT on OWN.
Where are you talking to me from right now?
Right now I’m on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii. We have a house here. I will be here for one more week and then I’m going back to Los Angeles where the action is. I’m going to start working on my new single. It’s a Latin salsa remix of “Dance a Little Bit Closer.” But, yeah, it’s very beautiful out here. On one side of me, my neighbor is Pierce Brosnan. On the other side, it’s Julia Roberts. And, actually, today I saw a double rainbow. I didn’t know Planet Earth was such a paradise.
Why did you want to be a part of the show “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”
Well, to be honest, I don’t like being on talk shows. I only like being on talk shows when I have to sell something. But Oprah is just class. She’s like a great wine in Paris. You know that when you’re with Oprah, it’s going to be extremely interesting. So when they invited me on the show to talk about what I have been doing lately, I said, “Why not?” I knew it was going to be exciting. I talk a lot, but when it comes to my life I am very private. I’m not looking for attention.
That’s something that has changed over the course of your career, hasn’t it? I mean, back in the 1970s you were everywhere. You were on countless talks shows and TV series.
It was a hell of a time in the 70s with my style and costumes and music and, of course, my famous phrase “Cuchi Cuchi.” I was really into showing people who I was. If they liked it, hallelujah. If they didn’t, well, sorry, but I wasn’t going to change because that was me. But, yeah, whatever show was available, I was there. Now, I’m more selective. When the single is finished, then you will see me more talking about my latest product. But you’re not going to see me every week talking about myself because people change. I’ve changed.
Do you enjoy looking back on your career and seeing all the incredible things you’ve done? There are quite a few clips of you singing and performing on sites like YouTube. I think one of my favorites I saw recently was where you’re having a conversation with Dean Martin on his TV show.
Yeah, I’m all over YouTube! I don’t even know how they find some of that stuff. One of my favorites I’ve seen is a clip where Carol Burnett is playing my mother. She was moving like me and wearing a low-cut costume and playing the maracas.
As you look back at your career today, do you wish, because you are such a natural performer, you had gotten more opportunities to do film?
I was never really interested in doing movies. I was only interested in doing good music and personal appearances. Personal appearances give you such a high, especially when you have a big audience there. Yes, going out there in a beautiful costume and with great choreography was great, but what I really concentrated on was playing my guitar. That is the greatest thing in my life. When I get to play my music in front of an audience, I’m as happy as a fish in water.
Would you ever do a reality TV show?
I actually have two offers to do a reality show. I might consider one of them as a matter of fact. I think it’s time to introduce people to who Latinos are on TV. Americans still do not know who Latinos or Spanish people are. So, yes, I am considering going back to TV in a very funny way. I think I have a sense of humor and good comedic timing. One of the offers is to have a camera crew in the house all the time. I don’t know if I want to do that. It’s too much when it comes to privacy. The other offer is to have my son move in with me. That might be something we do.