I wasn’t planning to see Sex and the City until I heard Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano had a cameo appearance in the film. I rushed out to see it with my mother not realizing it was a R-rated comedy. Nevertheless there I was sitting in the theater packed with women anticipating the scene with members of Mariachi Los Camperos. I was expecting to see just a few of the members, versus a full 12-piece group, since I had already spoken to one of guys and had gotten some inside scoop on the production.
Their appearance comes around the middle of the film when Carrie and the gals are eating dinner in a five-star resort in Mexico. Here’s the part that threw me for a loop. The girls are chatting about something that can be annoying or irritating and BOOM. That’s the exact moment when members of Mariachi Los Camperos pop into to the scene playing loudly behind their shoulders in a Mexican restaurant. Darn. All the work we are doing in trying to break those stereotypes. If the film producers of Sex and the City had visited a five-star resort in Mexico prior to producing the film, they would have known that most nice resorts in Mexico feature the best of the Mexican culture in theater style settings that often present mariachi music and folklorico dancing in beautiful shows where the culture is embraced. They do not have mariachis blowing their horns in the ears of guests while they are eating dinner. At least not at the resorts Ive been to near Mexico City, Cancun, Guadalajara and Cabo San Lucas. And in the U.S., most mariachis politely ask customers if theyd like to hear a song prior to playing.
Despite my disappointment in the mariachi scene, congratulations to Nati Cano and his Mariachi Los Camperos for being selected as cast members for the film. The five members of the esteemed group included Jesus Chuy Guzman and Ismael Hernandez on the violin, Javier Rodriguez on the trumpet, Juan Jimenez on the guitarron and Nati Cano on the vihuela. I understand they spent three days shooting one scene 25 times in Simi Valley, California last November (not in a 5-star resort in Mexico). Most of the time the group waited around until it was time to shoot their segment. Songs they perform in the film include Que te Vas te Vas and Viva Mexico. Members of the group say they were paid a fee plus additional for syndication. Their agency Opus 3 got them the job and they seemed quite happy with their experience. They say the 4 gal pals are quite attractive in person and they didnt have time to mingle during the shoot as everyone was busy working.
So the question is should we as mariachi aficionados be happy to see mariachis portrayed as annoying musicians playing behind customers shoulders in a Mexican restaurant in mainstream American films or should we encourage Warner Brothers and other film production houses to dig a little deeper before putting us on the big screen? Perhaps Warner Brothers would like to attend one of our shows so they can see what mariachi music is today and how it is portrayed as a beautiful, elegant and sophisticated form of music that combines symphony, opera and Mexican folklore. Or perhaps we can invite them to visit one of the many schools that teach mariachi music to students. How can we help film companies portray the mariachis as we think they should be portrayed?
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the film. And I love mariachi music. It was just the mariachi scene in this film that through me for a loop and left me with a disappointed feeling.
Mark your calendar for what will be another spectacular performance by the world renowned and Mexico City based Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán July 19 in Houston at the Wortham Center Brown Theater. Here you will see the beauty of mariachi music which will include performances from bright, young and talented award-winning mariachi vocalists such as Esteban Velasquez from Odessa, Texas, Virginia Stille and Vanessa Cerda from Houston and Monique Alvarado from San Antonio. You’ll also see a 14-piece student based mariachi ensemble from Houston recognized as Mariachi MECA and ballet folklorico dancers. Mariachi Vargas will take the stage during the second half of the show and perform songs from their latest recordings on stage in one of the most beautiful theaters in the country and not behind one’s shoulder in a Mexican restaurant.