You’d think that a tourist trap like Puerto Vallarta would be ideal shopping, but I couldn’t imagine Smithy exactly swooning over a miniature beaded palm tree statue or a Hard Rock Café tank-top.
Then, at last, I saw just the sort of boutique that catered to the refined taste of my dear,lady friend: a tequila specialty shop. Hypnotized by the variety of tans, camels, and caramel colors that shone through the many-angled bottles, I floated in and got real thirsty. The vendor – who’s name I never got, so I’ll call Graggenhauserfrauschembaur – practically materialized from out of my shadow, eager to exchange some of his wares for the far-less delicious bills I kept in my wallet.
“This,” I thought to myself, “Is gonna be a great relationship.”
It was. At Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s insistence we sat at a tiny portable bar and were lined up shots after shots of tequila tasters. It was like being a college freshman girl at her first date rape. Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s salesmanship was bar-none; how brilliant to get your customers drunk! And the tequila was, truly, lekker. My personal favorites were a coconut-crème tequila and a tamarind liqueur that made me wanna be an alcoholic again for the first time. I purchased some booze for Smithy, and some for myself. I bid Graggenhauserfrauschembaur a bittersweet farewell, and he scolded the boyfriend and I for coming from Los Angeles and not being able to speak Spanish.
Peruvian born, she was the personification of exoticism, making her an international sensation in the 1950’s. After signing with Capitol Records in 1950, the striking, raven-haired beauty became known as the "Nightingale of the Andes," and the "Peruvian Songbird." Her first album, Voice of the Xtabay, rocketed to the top of the LP charts introducing a whole new genre, Exotica, to the music buying public. During her heyday, Sumac headlined at the some of the most prestigious venues in the world, such as the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall. She reportedly made $25,000 a week in Las Vegas and turned down offers to sing with New York's Metropolitan Opera. Her eccentric costumes and stage settings were often extremely elaborate, filling stages with native dressed drummers and dancers and caged wild birds. Yma Sumac was also featured in the 1951 Broadway musical Flahooley and appeared in the films Secret of the Incas in 1954 and Omar Khayyam in 1957.
Yma Sumac the legendary, one of a kind singer famous for her 4 1/2 octave range, has died in Los Angeles. She was 86.