Madonna of Mexico goes on the run

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The Independent Online
MEXICO'S SULTRIEST singer has vanished. It is no small feat for pop star Gloria Trevi, a home-grown version of Madonna with added salsa, to drop out of sight. Calendar shots of her posing alongside inflated condoms are still tacked on garage walls over the country and her face - not to mention the flamboyant body it tops - is instantly recognisable.

But after just one tantalising glimpse near a Cuernavaca golf course last week-end, Trevi and her manager are on the run - and not for the first time. Both skipped out of a court appearance on Tuesday, leaving police flummoxed and paparazzi pacing in circles. Their lawyer said the pair, who face charges of corrupting minors, took a night flight this week to Brazil, which has no extradition treaty with Mexico.

Through the 1990s Gloria de los Angeles Trevino Ruiz was seen by Mexicans as a bold sexual rebel. But suddenly the voluptuous Trevi, 29, leapt on to the "most wanted" list. Her mugshot is on the Internet not because of her 1999 release on RCA International's "Rock del Milenio", but because police want to question her over new accusations of luring underage girls into sex for sale, in league with her manager Sergio Andrade.

On the first day of the cyber-dragnet last month, thousands of Mexicans responded to the request for clues to the duo's whereabouts. But Trevi and Andrade managed to elude everyone.

Aline Hernandez, Andrade's former child bride who married him at 15, fears that Trevi now is an accomplice to her agent and asserts that, over the years, Andrade assembled young entertainers for his own sexual pleasure.

Hysteria is mounting. Gloria Trevi's 1991 album, Your Guardian Angel is re-selling widely from Miami to Merida as fans listen repeatedly to her old hit, "Ya No" (No - Already). Ms Trevi's catchy lyrics urge girls to rebel against men who rein them in. But if the song is played backwards - much like fans once toyed with the Beatles' White Album - a man's voice supposedly rumbles: "Punishment", "You are wrong", and "You must obey". Ms Hernandez claims to recognise it as her ex-husband's distinctive baritone.

Such subjugation would seem a complete reversal for Trevi, who was an anomaly in a macho society when she sprang on to the Mexican pop scene in the late 80s. At her concerts, she would summon boys on stage to dance with her, then strip them down to their underwear. Her trademarks are torn tights, unbound hair to her waist, and torch songs touched with pathos and humour. Picturing Trevi as a procurer needs is a real stretch of the imagination.

Trevi denied all the allegations when Ms Hernandez first published them last year, but the authorities are now taking them seriously.

Delia Gonzales, a former back-up dancer who ran away from the troupe, recently filed a complaint against her former employers for sexual exploitation and mental abuse. She alleges that the distraught singer summoned her last Saturday morning to an estate near the Cuernavaca golf course, 55 miles south of Mexico City, which was surrounded by armed bodyguards. There Ms Gonzales says Trevi begged her to withdraw the charges of being sexually entrapped and held against her will.

"Gloria cried and shouted, and tried all sorts of emotional blackmail to make me change my statement, but she did not exactly offer me money," Ms Gonzales claimed. "I remained firm and she was very upset."

The parents of a 17-year-old in Mr Andrade's care, Karina Yapor, lodged a complaint nearly four months ago against Trevi and her manager for perverting their daughter's morals.

Karina auditioned for the dance troupe when only 12 and flew with Mr Andrade to tour Spain with the Trevi stage show.

The Yapors only recently learned about an out-of-wedlock grandson, abandoned by Karina in a public orphanage in Spain, who now lives with them in the northern city of Chihuahua. Karina has not contacted her parents for several years and is also believed to be in Brazil.

Interpol offices in Spain, France and Chile have been on special alert for months, officials acknowledged. Trevi's sad, strange, case is puzzling legions of loyal fans who once thought none of the excesses of rock could ever faze their heroine.