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Shane Mercado
Puts a Ring on It

Shane Mercado
Puts a Ring on It


Wearing nothing but a T-shirt cut right above his pecs and leotard bottoms a la Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, Shane Mercado became an overnight YouTube sensation with his re-creation of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance. Now, after sharing the red carpet with his idol, Mercado tells about his roller-coaster ride.

When Beyonce urged all the single ladies out there to "put a ring on it," it didn't take but a minute for gay boys everywhere to upload the tune to cell phones, bootleg the single, and make the phrase their update on Facebook. But few people connected with the anthem quite so passionately as Shane Mercado.

With Mercado wearing nothing but a T-shirt cut right above his pecs and leotard bottoms a la Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, his exact recreation of the "Single Ladies" dance quickly shot to the top of YouTube's most viewed list -- and it landed him a spot on Bonnie Hunt's daytime talk show and, last week, on the arm of the pop star herself for the premiere of her new film, Cadillac Records. And while the classically trained dancer vowed that if he ever met his idol, he'd ask her to sing for him, with flashbulbs and cameras capturing their every move, he had to settle for some well-staged photo ops -- and some "fierce" compliments from the former Destiny's Child front woman. video has become huge. Did you ever have any idea it would take off like it has?Shane Mercado: I just did it for fun -- I had no idea what would happen, and before I knew it, I had more than 200 messages from people on You Tube -- strangers, actually -- and the numbers just kept on climbing [as of this interview, more than 1.5 million people had watched the original video Mercado posted].

I would assume, dressed like that and doing that dance, you knew everybody was going to instantly know that you're gay. Of course.

Did you ever have any hesitation of putting it out there like that? Not at all. I've been comfortable with this since day one. And I expected the comments ... it didn't bother me a bit.

So what's been the best thing that's happened to you since this video took off? I would definitely have to say meeting Beyonce. They invited me to walk the red carpet and meet her at the Cadillac Records premiere.

How long did you get to hang with her? We had a couple of minutes. I didn't actually see the movie. It was great because she knew exactly who I was -- she must have seen that video early on, because she said she's been wanting to meet me and she said, "You must have learned it like the day after the video premiered."

What's the first thing she said to you? She came up to me and she was like, "Are you the guy with that hot outfit? You're very talented."

So does this mean you're going to be going out for a Beyonce video anytime soon? Absolutely, I would. I actually auditioned to dance for Destiny's Child a few years ago, but I'm not your typical sort of Beyonce dancer.

I want to go back really quickly to your answer about being gay and putting yourself out there. That's so refreshing to hear ... Well, I came out when I was 15. I'm 27 now. I'm a dancer at Splash [in New York]. The first people I told were my parents, and they're supportive. My whole family knows. I just don't even think about it anymore.

It's clear from the video that you're a kick-ass dancer -- trained, I assume? Yeah, I'm classically trained.

So what other projects are you working on? I'm doing some freelance dance and talking to some agents at the moment. I graduated from the La Guardia Performing Arts High School. I've been very lucky to have the experiences that I've had in my life. At 18, I was in Japan touring with a club artist. I did Grease; I toured Europe for six months. Toured China. But yeah, I'm doing some freelance gigs right now -- before I posted this video and everything took off, I was actually thinking that I didn't want to do dance anymore.

Well, it's a good thing you didn't quit. Has the video led to any gigs? It's led to a few people wanting me to host their parties, a couple of fashion shows people have wanted me to participate, a benefit for the gay and lesbian center... and actually, a couple of people who have wanted me to fly into their town and teach them the routine. They've offered to pay for my flight an everything. It's insane.

So is Beyonce your diva, then? You love her more than anyone else? Anyone ... Nobody does it like her -- and knowing she's not a trained dancer. She's just luscious. I've loved her since day one of Destiny's Child.

So will we be seeing you doing any other video? Well, 90% of the reason for me doing this video was because you can see the choreography from the first to last second. Most of the other videos out there, they're all edit. So we'll see.

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