So, according to many Filipino newsgroups on the internet like soc.culture.filipino, Julio Iglesias Jr. is not really Filipino, and neither is his mother, Isabel Preysler. Really?
Occupation: charmer - singer Julio Iglesias, Jr
Julio Iglesias, Jr., has the looks and charisma of his debonair easy-listening superstar dad and a voice of his own. But what else has he got? Interview went to his hotel room to find out
Some musicians have an ambivalent relationship to their stardom. Performing as if compelled by nameless inner demons, they can seem indifferent, even hostile, their audience irrelevant to private scenes they're enacting in their own heads. Then there are those performers who live only to seduce, as if their relationship with their audience were a love match somehow predestined from birth. Any guess as to which kind Julio Iglesias, Jr., is?
Made late by his Interview photo shoot, Iglesias stands in the lobby of his hotel talking happily with two women. I've been waiting for some time, but Iglesias is cheerfully oblivious, kissing me on both cheeks when I'm brought to him and then returning to his conversation in animated Spanish. Once he's forcibly extracted - more kisses for the women - we head for his room, which can be politely described as untidy.
For the past week he's been in New York City to put the finishing touches on his debut album, Under My Eyes, a collection of breathy, easy-on-the-ears pop songs mostly written by himself, with a little help from Junior Vasquez and others. Probably more famous in his native Spain, he has started to provoke a reaction here; after a recent Ricky Martin concert fans ignored the headliner to inundate Iglesias with demands he autograph their Ricky Martin posters. If his music is, in his own words, "completely different from my father's," it doesn't take more than two minutes in the son's company to notice the traits he shares with Papa. Boyishly good-looking with a smooth yet puppylike charm, Julio II is poised to bring family tradition into the 2000s.
HELEN EISENBACH: Did you enjoy being photographed?
JULIO IGLESIAS, JR.: [buttoning his fly] I did.
HE: So I see. [JI looks up and laughs] You grew up in Madrid?
JI: Until I was ten years old; then I moved to Miami, where my father was living. Mom still lives in Spain.
HE: Did you have any nicknames when you were young?
JI: Always Julio, Little Julio. My mom used to call me Kung Fu. [mimes a kung fu move] She's from the Philippines - I'm more Filipino than my whole family. I used to walk around with a bandanna - woo!
HE: And how old are you now?
JI: How old do you think I look?
HE: I have no idea. You're ageless.
JI: I'm twenty-six. I was born on February 25, 1973.
HE: You grew up with your father?
JI: Pretty much. My father was always [sings] "on the road again. . ."
JI: Sometimes. I've been all over Europe with him.
HE: Did he ever bring you out onstage with him?
JI: Yes. I used to hate it! It used to embarrass me.
HE: Did you cry? Did you smack him?
JI: I did! I was so young, you know, I was a little afraid - so many people! And the lights.
HE: Did you ever imagine you'd be doing it yourself someday?
JI: I didn't realize until I was twelve or thirteen that I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. First I wanted to be a fireman. Then I wanted to be a football player, get myself a cheerleader. But I didn't become strong enough.
HE: And you figured out how to get the cheerleaders anyway. How did your show business career begin?
JI: With a little bit of modeling. It was fun; it paid my phone bill.
HE: How did that come about?
JI: I met the photographer Bruce Weber and did a shoot for him, for Versace. Then I hosted my own show on Latin American TV called Mosaico. We used to travel around South America and just show the nice places. It was cool, but music is what I really want to do.
HE: When you were growing up did your father give you any advice: Do this, don't do that? Stay out of the business?
JI: My father has always been very frank with us. If we want to do something, he's always very helpful. He's happy I'm doing well - he loves the music.
HE: Would he tell you if he didn't?
JI: Oh, hell yeah!
HE: Is that tough? A high standard to live up to?
JI: Yeah. I do my best, you know, and if people like it, I'm happy. And if they don't like it [whispers] f--- them.
HE: Who has influenced you musically?
JI: Sting, Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson.
JI: My goodness, so many people tell me that!
HE: It's because you're all breathy. I've heard four of the songs.
JI: When the CD comes out, we'll send you a full one, OK? Some love songs in there for you, baby.
HE: With a big nude photo?
JI: Nude?! That's later on in life. [laughs] First I need to do a little weight-lifting.
HE: What was the first song you wrote?
JI: I don't even remember, it's been so long. I started writing in high school. I wrote nine songs for this first album. Some dance songs, some a little more mid-tempo, and then ballads. I like everything. Sometimes I get in the mood to listen to opera, you know? I can be in the mood to listen to rap, R&B, pop music.
HE: Are you ready to play big venues?
JI: That comes a little bit later, after the second album. You have to have enough songs. I want to play Madison square Garden, baby!
HE: You're not too shy?
JI: Me? No. You start working in TV, in front of the camera every day, and you get used to it. Sometimes you just go like this [snaps] and you change.
HE: Where do you see yourself three years from now?
JI: Hopefully, very successful.
HE: All work and no play?
JI: I go to both extremes. I like to have a lot of people around me or I don't like anybody around me.
HE: What's the worst thing you do?
JI: I don't do anything bad. Honestly, I'm such a good boy. Can't you tell?
HE: Were you ever not a good boy?
JI: No. My mother and father have always been very strict. Our manners. . . everything had to be perfect.
HE: Were you ever mad because they were so strict?
JI: Of course I was! We used to have a baby-sitter and the day she had off, oh, it was like heaven! Party time!
HE: Do we have any home movies of that?
JI: We probably do.
HE: Do you like New York?
JI: I've been back and forth to New York since I was little, and for work I've been coming for the last year and a half. I like New York, but I also like a little green, you know? It's hard for me to breathe here sometimes.
HE: Would you come just for fun?
JI: Why not? For three, four hours - then I'd get back on a plane. [smirks]
JI: I've heard that word like ten times this week! What does it mean? Yesterday in the photo shoot, I heard "smirk"; today I heard, "Give me a little smirk." What the hell is "smirk"? [sings] "I came to New York and everyone was smirking . . . ."
HE: What's the first thing you're going to do when you get home tonight?
JI: McDonald's. I eat McDonald's or Burger King every day. I know it sounds gross but I just do, every single day. Lately, it's the first time in my life I'm gaining a little weight. I weigh 165 pounds.
HE: I'm sorry to hear that.
JI: Sports help me out a lot. I love surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, waterskiing. I'm a water person. I'm a Pisces.
HE: What qualities are Pisces supposed to have?
JI: Romantic, sensitive, pure people.
HE: And are any of those true about you?
JI: All of them. One of the bad things is that Pisces people are perfectionists.
HE: Mean to everyone around them?
HE: Do you like staying in hotels?
JI: Yes, because I don't have to pick up after myself. I'm such a neat person when I'm not in a hotel. In my house, oh, my God, everything has to be perfect. You know me.
HE: I don't, really.
JI: [low-voiced] Nobody knows me. It's a lonely life. I'm so lonely.
HE: Are you a tease?
JI: You think so?
HE: Not you.
JI: Me? Nooooooo. But I think everybody is a little, you know?
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