Here’s why Mexicans have a hunka burnin’ love for Elvis 

Dear Mexican:

What's the fascination Mexicans have with Elvis?

Good Roceando Tonight

Dear Gabacho:

Your question is spot-on, but it's taken awhile for Elvis Presley 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, an account that Elvis said, "I'd rather kiss three black girls than a Mexican girl." Seeing an opportunity to crack down on a growing youth movement, Mexico's civic fathers denounced Elvis as a maricón and a negrito-lover and organized Elvis memorabilia burnings. Mexicans being Mexicans, most dutifully followed instructions. Elvis wouldn't receive a fair 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. 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 good — and I'm even including Charles Bronson.

Dear Mexican:

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 has produced a worthless bunch of dropouts.

What's the Matter With Kansas?

Dear Gabacho:

I don't think it's so much that Mexican culture creates losers but rather that the illegals you mentioned lived in Topeka.

Dear Mexican:

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:

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 asked your pregunta said tanning makes them look good. When I asked them how burning one's skin makes one more attractive, they said it's 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 like those of illegal Mexicans: drive without a license or auto insurance, have as many babies as Mexican families, get government documents translated into their language, live a carefree mañana life. When I tell them that they have to undergo exploitation, harassment and a couple of days 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 — might as well look like a Mexican and not suffer the consequences.

¡ASK A MEXICAN CONTEST! Want a free autographed copy of my new paperback? Write a 25-word essay arguing why corn tortillas are better than flour, or vice versa. E-mail entries to mexican@pitch.com and specify that you read The Mexican in The Pitch. And submit questions to mexican@pitch.com.

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