12 Aug An Ode to Walter Mercado. Award winning fashion artist Fabian Alejandro Diaz and Tony Padron team up.
As a young Mexican-American youth, living on the Southside of San Antonio, TX in the 80’s and 90’s, you’d have had to have been living under a rock to not have overheard the astrological wisdom of Walter Mercado on your mother or grandmother’s television set. As a passerby to the kitchen, it was very hard to not notice him. I’d stop dead in my tracks at his magnetic draw, only matched by his hypnotizing eye to eye contact with the camera. It was potent.
Walter Mercado. Image from Water Mercado Archives.
I knew very little Spanish, but I remember my grandmother urging me to pay attention until my sign had been read. “Sagitario…”. I couldn’t understand a word he said, but according to my grandmother’s smile and body language, I had permission to conclude my trip to the kitchen, for I was set with my divine dose protection. I got my astrological wisdom from Walter and it would carry me through the upcoming moments until his next reading.
At that age, admittedly, I had only seen one other man with such bio-gender aura – The Goblin King from Labyrinth (David Bowie) and yet, somehow, I instinctually knew, “There is no one else in the world like Walter Mercado.” You just knew. He had an unusual presence, the kind of charisma human beings only dream of having, a feminine and masculine being with tigeresque features and a confident mysticism wrapped in a sea of glorious capes. He was one of a kind.
Walter Mercado. Image from Water Mercado Archives.
Netflix recently released a documentary regarding his life and legacy and it has inspired a slew of artists to pay tribute to the loving memory of Walter Mercado. Even here in San Antonio, Texas, a dynamic duo took to the safe confines of a creative art space to manifest a beautiful photoshoot depicting the essence of what made Walter Mercado so magical and we got first glimpse at the fabulous photos.
The project was modeled and conceptualized by Tony Padron also known as YYYn0t, a VIA bus operator by day and DJ/social activist/artist by every other millisecond of his life. The hair, makeup, cape/robe, and photos were styled, applied, created, and executed by an award-winning fashion artist, Fabian Alejandro Diaz of Casa De Ojos. Here is your first glimpse at the photoshoot and exclusive interview about the art project itself.
SLTV: These photos are beautiful. What inspired this photoshoot?
FAD: Tony came to me with the idea and I was all for it! I had just recently finished watching the Walter Mercado documentary. Although I did not watch any of his shows when I was younger, I still knew about him, and for me, I have always had a fascination with capes. To wear one gives you a certain confidence.
TP: Walter Mercado is an ICON and I’ve fancied him for a long time. His passing last year made me sad but I wanted to continue his audacious and courageous legacy. He broke a lot of barriers and conquered many battles which is something I relate with and I wanted to pay tribute to that.
SLTV: Tony, among the many things you do creatively, we heard you were also known for your vogue dancing. We can see that influence in this photoshoot. Not to mention, Walter Mercado’s mannerisms lend themselves to this art form; we believe he would have been an incredible vogue dancer. For those who don’t know, can you define vogue dancing?
TP: Voguing is a vibe, you have to demand that attention and deliver your statement. It has to make sense and you need to keep that story going until you feel your message is conveyed. It’s so fucking liberating and I’m literally in tears thinking about how I’ve had the best times of my life being able to express my self through vogue. There is so much anger, pain and passion in my performance and I hope it translates to beauty when executed. Vogueing is what you want to say deep down inside; vogueing has a beautiful relationship with music and the possibilities are endless.
SLTV: In the midst of COVID-19, how has the way you execute art changed?
FAD: I can’t say that anything has as far as how I create at this time. My home is my studio and I have access to most of my supplies.
TP: Well, I love collaborating with people and bringing big ideas to life, so the pandemic has really minimized my capabilities of expression by its limits on normal creative interactions. On an individual level, not much has changed, I still dance and create art but I’m not able to deliver it through the normal channels…so, its a bit frustrating, but the pandemic has also made me think a lot differently (good and bad) for a lot of things which I really appreciate and am learning to live with.
SLTV: Fabian, as an Ode to Walter Mercado, the cape had to be on point! I can’t think of a better talent to take on such a challenge. How did you execute this homage to Mercado’s iconic staple?
FAD: So I made and sewed the cape from scratch. The shoulder piece was a yard of sequined fabric in which I cut the shapes out and made into an applique. I finished everything off with some trim and then added the rhinestones. In the photos it is held together with a brooch.
SLTV: In true Walter Marcado style.
FAD: I was super proud of this project, not only the sewing and execution of the cape and shoulder piece, but also the photos. This was my first time to use my lighting equipment, and also the edits in lightroom.
SLTV: Expanding on your many, many talents. How exciting.
SLTV: What extra precautions did you two take to execute this art in the midst of this pandemic?
FAD: Social distancing was in place, so it was just Tony and myself. His family runs an event center, so not only did we have the space to ourselves, but they also rent props and decorations, like the ones used in the photos.
TP: I did get tested for COVID-19 before the shoot just to make sure there was no risky business and we took it from there.
SLTV: Do you think that this pandemic has enhanced art or served as an obstacle?
FAD: I suppose it would depend on your medium. This pandemic has definitely made us creatives more resourceful. Those who weren’t already doing the social media thing have stepped up to the numerous platforms to showcase their talent.
SLTV: I’d say that’s a massive win. It kills me when talent has no social media. Like it or not, its a life force to help bring your work to the masses. How bout you Tony?
TP: Both. Up until this point, I was itching for something to happen and managed to bring this to life with the help of Fabian who is an amazing artist himself. He put together this amazing, bad ass robe, beat my mug and captured everything. Without Fabian’s help this project would be nothing. The pandemic has made me more audacious, courageous and willing to pursue my endeavors.
The documentary Mucho Mucho Amor is now streaming now on Netflix, be sure to check it out and for more high fashion and Texas fashion industry, tune in, right here, to Style Lush TV.