Billboard's Leila Cobo hangs out with Gloria Trevi and her guitarist, Rayito, before the revealing conversation at this year's Billboard Latin Music Conference & AwardsFher Olvera, Juan Diego Calleros (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner)
MIAMI -- Gloria Trevi may look as elegant as a classy blonde mom, but she still has the spirit of a rebel teenage pop idol who says exactly what she feels and laughs whenever she gets the urge. And that is often -- almost after every sentence.
"Wah-ha-ha!" she roared often in an interview Wednesday at the Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards in Miami Beach, where she talked about her music, her family, her workout, her connection with the gay community and romance. "Wah-ha-ha!"
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Billboard's Leila Cobo put it best when she said that Trevi -- who has a clothing line and a perfume -- was more than an artist or celebrity.
"Gloria Trevi is a brand," Cobo said, asking how the suddenly blonde singer kept her figure.
"I take care of myself. I mean, I really put an effort into it. I lift weights," she said, flexing her arms and laughing. "I don't consider myself an example of the public, but rather a reflection of the marvelous public that has let me make a living with what I love to do.
"It's the least I could do for those people who have been so good to me."
Cobo asked about the golden trusses and gave Trevi another opportunity to joke.
"I decided to go back to my natural hair color -- wah-ha-ha!" she said, and the audience laughed along. In reality, she said, it was to celebrate the new danceable disc.
"And I'm having fun with it because, look," Trevi said and stood up and turned around, "if you see me from behind you are not going to know it's La Trevi. But I turn around and," turning around, "it's La Trevi. Wah-ha-ha!"
She also said that her personality often changes with each song, disc or era.
"Each song possesses me. All these songs on this disc are songs that I identify with," she said, adding that the majority of the songs she wrote herself. "You have to feel them. All us women have many personalities. There is Mrs. Gloria Devia, the mother and wife. There is la Trevi of the night," she said, winking and laughing. "They told me this was a conference, so I am the elegant Gloria Trevi."
Cobo asked if she dropped her daughter off at school in gym pants and flip-flops. But that wouldn't be very Trevi.
"No, and I think children like having a sexy mami. I like to wear dresses, heels, have my hair done," she said, admitting that she wears flip-flops at home. "I like the look that you see in the '50s, you know, the mother that takes the pie out of the oven."
Cobo noted that there are several changes of clothing and scenery in her concerts.
"My influence is like Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson. I like to tell a story, for the songs to intertwine," she said. "I am going to make it fun."
She still sings the teenage angst anthems that made her famous in Mexico from time to time. "But I do it late in the concert, when my stockings are already ripped and my hair is already unruly, so I feel it," she said. "I have always been an open book - musically speaking."
The new disc, "Gloria," has a new personality for her. It's the hurt Trevi, the heartbroken Trevi, sometimes the lonely Trevi. But in all that, it begins to transform to become "this being who is here, 'Here I am'."
She should know about transformations. Her soap opera-like life includes a three-year stint in a Brazilian prison for her role in what authorities called sexual slavery. She became pregnant in prison and gave birth to her son there. Some told her she would never be able to gain the trust of her audience again. But she has.
"Someone told me that there are no second opportunities. I am an example of that. We all have war wounds that we have to be proud of," Trevi said. "Nobody's perfect. We have to take pride in our errors."
Trevi, who said she wants to direct films, said her first contact with music was through ballet and that she still uses classical music as an outline when she writes. "If you see in my songs there are movements - not just a chorus and verse but I have a bridge and movement - that starts to fragment the song, like classical music."
She sang two songs from her new LP and the audience was wowed with the improvised power of her voice.
"What a luxury to have you perform here next to me," Cobo said. She then asked Trevi why she identifies so much with the gay community, and why the LGBT community exalts her as one of their heroes.
"I have a strong ability to communicate with the gay community, like with children and with women - with men also. At times I know there is a man listening to my songs and someone might say, 'You listen to la Trevi?' And he will say, 'Um, no. It's my sister's.'
"But I don't sing for men. I sing for the vengeance of women - wah-ha-ha!" Trevi said, and punched her fist into the air.
She said the gay community is accepting of her because they can identify with persecution, and children accept and communicate easily with her because they have no preconceived ideas.
"Sometimes there is a public that is scared to admit when they like something unexpected," she said. "Like the intellectuals. But deep inside, they love it and are tapping their feet."
A woman in the audience asked her if she would speak against domestic violence and she said she would talk to her later. "It's okay when they give you a soft spanking that you like - and with permission," she said in the classic racy Trevi style. "But unfortunately, Latin women have either lived domestic violence in our own lives or in our family. Because we are raised to be very idealistic and romantic and we are taught that for a dream we have to fight and do everything for that dream to become a reality. And sometimes you think you can change that person.
She suggested women in violent relationships reach out to their family, friends and the authorities -- "and get close to your gay friend who is also going to defend you.
"And yes, you have to fight for your dreams, but not for your nightmares," she continued. "And that is what you need to recognize. You need to say 'I am going to make my dreams in another place, in another's arms -- wah-ha-ha!"
Billboard.biz will be reporting from the Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards all week -- check back every couple of hours for the latest!