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Chi Lives: La Vida Kathie 

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Kathie Bergquist had a dream: to publish a book by the time she turned 30. Just a couple weeks before her big three-oh, Bergquist's first volume hits the shelves, right on schedule--Ricky Martin: An Unauthorized Biography. "This might not be what I had in mind," she says, "but here it is!"

Bergquist has been writing, and writing about music, for a long time. Years ago she cofounded the now-defunct queer punk zine Siren. She works as the publicist for local bands Evil Beaver and the Prescriptions, and she's helping to produce the Second Annual Queercore Round-up and BBQ, a punk rock event to benefit gay youth services.

Even if the persistent rumors about Ricky Martin's sexual preferences were true, his is not the sort of music that would normally find its way onto Bergquist's personal playlist. But a couple months back she ran into Jerry Stroud, founder of publisher representatives Fujii & Associates, at Unabridged Bookstore, where she's the children's book buyer. Stroud happened to mention that a publisher was looking for someone to pen a bio of the Latin pop sensation. Bergquist was interested.

Quicker than you can say "La Vida Loca," an editor at Virgin UK asked Bergquist for an outline and her credentials. Those included writing for Out, Curve, and Nightlines, where she has a popular column, "The Kathie Klub." Her play How to Meet Girls was produced by Zebra Crossing Theatre, and she's reviewed gay and lesbian fiction for Publishers Weekly. Virgin UK gave her the green light and three weeks to produce a finished manuscript. Bergquist began clicking through over 18,000 Web pages hopelessly devoted to Ricky.

To stimulate her creative juices and get a feel for the pop bio form, Bergquist read a book about 'N Sync and adjusted her radio dial to B-96. As fast as the chapters ("La Vida Ricky," "Little Ricky," "The Real Ricky," and "The Romantic Ricky," among others) appeared, Bergquist E-mailed them to her editor in London. "I felt very cutting edge," she says. "Virtually all the research was done on-line, and I never needed a complete hard copy of the manuscript."

Bergquist and her girlfriend used the proceeds from the book to take a Puerto Rican vacation. "If I was going to make a quick buck doing a cut-and-paste version of Ricky Martin's life, it seemed somehow appropriate that I visit his birthplace," Bergquist says. Now that she's back, Unabridged is hosting a book-release party, to which she asks celebrants to bring an appropriate haiku to share. As an example, she offers "The Grammy Awards":

Swiveling his hips,

The whole world pays attention--

Leather-clad nova.

The release party for Ricky Martin is at 7:30 Thursday, September 23, at Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway (773-883-9119). It's free. The Queercore Round-up and BBQ starts at 3 this Saturday at 2849 W. Medill. Bands include Evil Beaver, the Prescriptions, Three Dollar Bill, Loraxx, the Traitors, and Igie. Admission is $5. Call 773-278-3541 for more information. --Robert McDonald

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nathan Mandell.

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