Released: 8th July
Seen: 4th August
July 3rd of 2020 was the first time I’ve ever heard the name Walter Mercado. I wasn’t introduced to him the way a lot of people were, I didn’t watch his shows or call his hotline or see his interviews. No, I learned about him the same way I learned about Little Edie, Mary Berry and Theresa Caputo… I saw them being portrayed as characters on the Snatch Game during an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. That was my introduction to Walter, drag queen Alexis Mateo decided to portray Walter Mercado during the most iconic challenge in the entire series and the second I saw this impression I wanted to know more about this person and then, 5 days later Netflix released the documentary Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado and like a good procrastinator I didn’t watch it for over a month because damnit, that’s what a professional does!
The hard thing to pull off with a documentary about a celebrity is that you are going to want to try and cater to two different audiences, the audience that knows this person well and the audience who doesn’t know a damn thing about them. Mucho Mucho Amor absolutely pulls that off, holding the hand of those who need to learn about Walter and spending the first third of the movie running through his resume, letting you slowly see just what it was that made him an icon so by the time we get to the biggest questions the movie tries to answer (Namely, why did he suddenly vanish and what was the end of his career like) you’re fully invested.
The film takes its time to go through everything, from the start of Walter’s lengthy television career to the rumors about his sexuality and how he changed views on masculinity to the lawsuit that effectively stopped his career. Using a mix of interviews with Walter, interviews with family and fans and just following Walter around on his daily routine, the film paints a fascinating picture of a man that shone brightly and meant the world to many people. It makes sure that the people who never heard of him before now are made aware of just why he’s so special, and it does it almost effortlessly.
One tiny area where the film falters is when it actually tries to play the skeptic card during the part where they talk about Walter’s psychic phone line. Like most people, the filmmakers know that psychic phone lines are prone to being used for scams and so they do ask Walter about that… once, and there’s barely any follow up. They get that there are people who don’t believe in astrology or psychic phenomena (like me, for example) but by not actually going in and talking about that at any length they do themselves a disservice. Honestly, it would’ve been better if they just hadn’t brought it up because by that point in the film no one really is thinking about whether Walter is actually psychic because what is so powerful about him is his personality.
Walter Mercado was truly a fascinating human being and Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado does justice to his legend, spreading it to people who may never have even taken the time to know him. If, like me, your first introduction to him was during a parody of The Dating Game on a reality competition show about drag queens then this is the perfect follow up material to get to know just what made Walter special, he was someone who tried to spread love and joy wherever he went and judging by how the people in this film talk about him, he succeeded.