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When Mexico's scandalous pop diva GloriaTrevi--once the country's highest-paid performer and known as ''Mexico's Madonna''--left jail, she handed out fliers to promote herself.
The hard work is paying off: Two years later, Trevi has shot to worldwide superstardom.
Her comeback album, Como nace el universo, or How the Universe Was Born, went platinum in the United States and received a Latin Billboard award nomination for best album.
The single ''Todos me miran,'' or ''Everyone Is Looking at Me,'' whose video depicts a gay man coming out, hit number 1 on the Mexican Billboard chart. These days, Trevi has become an icon for gay men on both sides of the border, dubbed the ''Gay Queen.''
''Conservatives criticize [gays], but then they wear the clothes they design, listen to the music that they have made so popular, and use the makeup that they create,'' Trevi told the Associated Press in a recent interview.
Trevi rose to stardom in the 1990s when her songs about sexual independence won over thousands of teenage fans, making her one of Latin America's biggest stars.
Then the bottom fell out: In 2000, Trevi, along with her manager, Sergio Andrade, and backup singer Maria Raquenel Portillo were arrested and accused of luring young girls into their entourage with promises of stardom and then sexually abusing them.
The three were detained in Brazil, where all had fled to avoid prosecution. They were extradited to Mexico, where a second backup singer was already being held.
After almost five years in Brazilian and Mexican prisons, Trevi was acquitted of charges of kidnapping, rape, and corruption of minors.
The 38-year-old singer, who has always maintained her innocence, left jail with her son, Angel Gabriel, now 4, and the memory of losing a baby girl who died shortly after being born there. Last year she gave birth to her second son, Miguel Armando, and says she may have more children.
Trevi no longer talks about her time in jail, but the experience transformed her from a Mexican teen idol into an international star with fans in their 20s and 30s. And although she has tamed her wild lioness mane and toned down her raunchy image--doing away with ripped tights--Trevi hasn't lost her spunk. She still lets loose on stage, grabbing her crotch and cracking whips.
''My fans like the rebel in me,'' she said in a recent interview.
She's even managed to strike a fine balance between her rebel girl image and her new life as an activist mother, broadening her appeal.
Trevi also started a foundation, named Ana Dalai after her baby who died, to provide money and support to jailed mothers, saying she has firsthand knowledge of their difficulties. On Monday she returned to the Chihuahua prison where she was held and handed out toys and medicine to inmate mothers.
She has become a vocal defender of the gay community. The song ''Everyone Is Looking at Me,'' which she said is based on a friend's experience, was a favorite at sold-out shows during Trevi's recent tour of major gay clubs from New York to Los Angeles.
Her album How the Universe Was Born is a testament to Trevi's and her fans' fight against social taboos and not being influenced by others, and she has said ''Everyone Is Looking at Me'' also relates her own feelings of being rejected by certain sectors of society. She said she hopes her music inspires people to stay true to themselves.
''Artists and, above all, 'La Trevi' teach us, especially women, about all the sides of ourselves: the sexy one, the showoff, the passionate one, the mother, the superhero,'' she said, adding, ''My rebelliousness more than anything has a cause.... I never have been an anarchist, I've always had goals and always have acted out of love.'' (Istra Pacheco, AP)