[¡Ask a Mexican!®] The King Reigns South of the Frontera

Dear Mexican: What's the fascination Mexicans have with Elvis?

Good Rockeando Tonight

Dear Gabacho: Your question is spot-on, but it's taken a while for Elvis to achieve icon status among Mexicans. As recounted in Eric Zolov's 1999 book, Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture, the King largely sparked the roots of rock en español by inspiring groups such as Los Locos del Ritmo and Los Teen Tops to pirate his style beat-for-beat, pompadour-for-pompadour, uh-huh huh-for-uh-huh huh. This initial love affair ended in 1957, when Mexican newspapers published—without proof—that Presley said, "I'd rather kiss three black girls than a Mexican girl." Seeing an opportunity to crack down on a burgeoning youth movement, Mexico's civic fathers denounced Presley as a maricón and negrito-lover and organized Elvis-memorabilia burnings. Mexicans being Mexicans, most dutifully followed instructions. Elvis wouldn't receive a fair hip-shake from the country—not even after Fun In Acapulco—until the 1970s, when his visage became the backbone of the borderlands' burgeoning black-velvet-painting industry. Wabs have largely loved the King since, as they realized he was more Mexican than an eagle on a cactus. Remember the comparison I made between rednecks and wabs a couple of weeks back? Consider Elvis and his similarity with Mexicans: skinny as a youngster, obese by the end, but still caliente; a hardworking country boy corrupted by the big city's excesses; a taste for big belts and shimmering suits; a propensity for unhealthy food and bedding underage girls. And have you heard his versions of the ranchera standards "Guadalajara" and "Allá en el Rancho Grande"? No gabacho can sing those songs that well—and I'm even including Charles Bronson.

I hope the Mexicans are more productive in other parts of the United States than where I'm from. The surge of illegals in Topeka, Kansas, 20 years ago produced a worthless bunch of dropouts.

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What's the Matter With Kansas?

Dear Gabacho: The pobrecitos are just depressed. After all, they live in Topeka.

Why do white people go to tanning salons to get our skin shade if they hate us so much?

Prieto but Perplexed

Dear Dark Pero Perplejo: I usually answer questions about Mexicans, not gabachos, but I'll make an exception for you porque it leads to a great anecdote. All the gabachos to whom I posed your pregunta said tanning makes them look good. When I asked them how burning one's skin makes one more attractive, they replied because it makes them darker. See how circular the logic of most gabachos is? But smart people know the reason: Gabachos lie under cancer-causing rays as a last-ditch effort to become Mexican. I frequently receive letters from gabachos wondering how they can receive benefits à la illegal Mexicans, drive without a license or auto insurance, have as many babies as Mexican families, get government documents translated into their language, and live a carefree mañana life. When I tell them they have to undergo exploitation, harassment and a couple of days of walking through the Arizona desert, those gabachos usually shut up. Nevertheless, the allure of a Mexican's ever-feliz attitude lingers in the gabacho id. And so, these people tan—if they can't live like Mexicans, might as well look like them and not suffer the consequences.

¡ASK A MEXICAN CONTEST! Want a free, autographed copy of my new paperback book? Write a 25-word essay arguing why corn tortillas are better than flour, or vice versa. E-mail entries to themexican@askamexican.net. One winner per newspaper that carries the Mexican, so please specify in which paper you read your favorite wab. Your local rag doesn't carry me? Top five finishers from that category, then!

MEET THE MEXICAN! The Mexican will sign copies of his book at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, (562) 437-1689. Sat., noon.


Get your Mexican needs at youtube.com/askamexicano, myspace.com/ocwab and themexican@askamexican.net!

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