Larry Hernandez is mad, and he’s not taking it anymore.
In a candid conversation with Billboard in anticipation of the new season of his hit reality show Larrymania, Hernandez spoke bluntly about becoming a “better man” after a harrowing 2015. Last September, the regional Mexican star was arrested on charges of kidnapping and assault in Newberry, South Carolina, and spent a month in prison. Although charges are still pending, Hernandez began taping the fifth season of Larrymania in January, along with his fiancé Kenia and their two daughters (Hernandez also has two sons from a previous marriage).
Season 5 of Larrymania kicks off July 17 on NBCUniverso with a special preview airing Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. But prior to the premiere, Hernandez had much to say on failed friendships, renewed faith and battling his demons. (Hernandez didn’t speak about his case.)
After all the legal troubles you’ve been through, is it strange to bare all on a television show again?
Well, the new season of Larrymania was already planned before everything happened to me. I literally closed the contract, and two days later, what happened, happened. So it’s not that we’re filming Larrymania as a result. Larrymania is shooting because the past seasons have been a success and the channel wanted a new season. I was worried that things would affect our plans with the show. But we’ve been taping since January, and it’s shaping up to be a great season. Obviously, there has to be a change, given what happened, and you’ll see the change on the screen — in the way I behave in my house, with my children, as a son, as a parent. There are a lot of things I haven’t spoken in-depth about, and fans will be able to see everything in the reality show: What actually is, as opposed to what people say is.
I’m impressed you’re taking this on so openly. Was this hard? Or was it cathartic?
We can’t skip this page and film a fifth season and pretend nothing happened. And I can’t say it was bad luck. It was a blessing for me. Thanks to everything that’s happened, I’m a man who lives life differently. In one week, I’ll celebrate 10 months with no alcohol. This wouldn’t have happened before. So many times before, my 9-year-old, Sebastian, asked me to stop drinking and I couldn’t. Why? Because I’m an alcoholic. So thank God I was able to leave that, and it was a direct result of what happened. Because I hit bottom, I see life differently. So we couldn’t return to Larrymania and ignore this. It doesn’t mean I’m going to squeeze my experience either, no. I can’t talk about this every episode. But everything that happens in Larrymania is linked to my life cycle at the time.
Did you and your fiance Kenia ever think about simply disappearing for a while and disconnecting?
We didn’t watch any Spanish-language television for a while. They didn’t care about my well-being or my family’s emotional well-being. They just wanted ratings and say every stupid thing they could think of. It was really demoralizing to see people who were allegedly my friends stabbing me in the back when I thought these were genuine friendships I had made over the years. Our two daughters, they don’t know anything. But my sons obviously saw everything around them; they’re 13 and 9 years old. But I spoke with them, I explained things. No one in this life is exempt from going through hardship.
Were you able to regain some normalcy?
Well, for two, three months, I had people camping outside my home and I couldn’t do anything about it. Although the blessings I got — I had people come with their images of St. Jude, the Virgin of Zacatecas — and all that gave me faith and made me be thankful that my life changed. Even when I was inside [prison], I never complained, I was never thankless. On the contrary, I thanked God for showing me this side of life that will be very important for me to become a better man, a better husband, a better son, a better human being.
What are you up to musically?
I’m still performing. This week, I’m playing with Banda El Recodo, and last week I played with La Arrolladora. We’ve been working with other groups, and things are doing well. I’m working with Luciano Luna. He’s producing my new album, and we’re very happy with the music we’re recording. I’m getting away from corridos and doing music that’s more serious, that has more depth. I’m not interested in corridos or in talking about those kinds of people in my songs. I want to sing love songs, songs that can be for your mother, your son, your brother.
Any new music you’ll sing in the show?
The past seasons, the music we played was usually a track form an existing album. This time, all the background music was produced specifically for the show, and we have a song that’s kind of a cumbia created specifically for the show. We’ll probably sing the new single as well, and we’re taping a new video that we’ll show snippets of. The star is Kenia, and that’s not something you see every day.
What will you do in this season that you haven’t done before?
My two boys decided they didn’t want to be on the show. It was their decision, and I respect it. Although now that they’ve started to see all the fun things we’re doing, they want to go back.
Aside from quitting alcohol, what other changes have you undergone?
I’m going to the gym, I’m eating well. I’ve made changes to take better care of my health. I’m 39, after all, almost 40.
I see you’re blunter than ever…
Oh yes. This opened my eyes to many things — things I can’t even say. Things I can’t even say in my reality. I realized there were people close to me who wanted to take advantage of my misery. Now I’m very cautious of where I step and how I open my mouth and move my tongue to say the right words.
What do you watch in your spare time?
Anything that has to do with soccer. Today, more than ever, I want to go to Europe and see some soccer matches.