Friday, January 18, 2008

Luis Jimenez is back in town

With posters announcing "The Second Coming" plastering the city (almost as many posters if not more than for the movie "Cloverfield"), Spanish language radio shock-jock Luis Jimenez finally ended his contract-mandated exile and was back on the New York City radio airwaves yesterday morning with his "Luis Jimenez Show" on La Kalle.

Unrepentant for past on air transgressions - or the homophobic skit that got him suspended for a couple of months last year in a version of the show that was being broadcast by Univision Radio in markets outside New York - the debut of the show was preceded by a number of interviews with the press which were striking for the animosity he expressed towards his former colleagues at "El Vacilon de la Mañana" on La Mega. So much so that when he continued to slime La Mega on the air it seemed more like an act to paint himself as the wronged underdog back in town to take them down than anything else (this "underdog," of course, is the man who signed with Univision for $5 million, making him the top paid Hispanic radio personality in the United States).

In a pre-show interview that appeared yesterday in the Daily News, Jimenez addressed his suspension for the first time in public and said: “That happened right after [Don] Imus’ problems and I think the suspension was less about me than about delivering a message."

In the show aired yesterday, which was set up as an on-air "press conference" instead of a proper show, Jimenez told listeners that he had nothing for which to apologize and said that he'd felt personally hurt about being tagged as anti-gay. He said that he knew it wasn't even the gay community that called him homophobic but one or two people at a small organization (alluding, we assume, to GLAAD, which released a statement denouncing his on air banter before the suspension).

He said that it was a sad day when radio personalities didn't have to fear the FCC but, instead, a small organization. "That's not a democracy," he said, "It's a dictatorship."

He also told the Daily News that “rules for content have definitely changed, black comedians have said ‘ho’ for years and now it’s bad. You used to hear ‘bitch’ all the time and now it’s ‘the b-word.’ I think it’s a problem, but I can adjust. You find other ways to say things. I make up words.”

He added that, despite how he felt, he wasn't about to do anything to get his new employer in trouble and that he was grateful to Univision for bringing him back to New York.

The press conference as an on-air show drew mostly online Latino website reporters with most "reporters" congratulating Jimenez on his return to the air and a female reporter actually gushing over Jimenez and how great he looked. One of the exceptions was the well-known El Diario La Prensa OpEd columnist Gerson Borrero who asked a few pressing questions about the feud with "El Vacilon," the issue of censorship and whether Jimenez would be willing to return to SBC Radio, owners of La Mega, if he was offered $10 million dollars.

But wait! What about the show's content?

Well, a number of new personalities were introduced in yesterday's show including
Fay who describes herself as being a lesbian woman. She spent some time defending Jimenez from the accusations of homophobia and vouchering for his character (she's the show's Robin Quivers, if you will, to Jimenez' Howard Stern role).

Yesterday and today she engaged in some sophomoric banter with Jimenez - mostly of the Beavis-and-Butthead type - that played on words such as "mamar" (to suck) and "mamá" (mom) that, at least to my ears, fell mostly flat.

Today she asked reggae star Daddy Yankee, a guest, if he clipped his eyebrows just like Don Omar - another reggae singer with whom he has a feud - or if he regretted wearing pink in one of his old videos which might indicate he was less of a man (I guess if a lesbian woman uses the same stereotypes to call men's masculinity into question, all is forgiven, no?).

Then there was a feature in today's show - set to the Village People's "Macho Man" - in which male listeners were asked to call and see who could say phrases such as "If your hands are busy, I'll shake it for you" without sounding gay. A winner was named. As far as offensiveness goes, it was so lame that I'm not sure that it merits mention here.

No, there were no skit songs about a man enjoying being raped by another man or prank calls telling a man that he has hours to live because he has AIDS - as in the past - but I was struck by how boring the first two shows were (not something I would have said about the old "Vacilon" shows).

At one point, to promote the show's online prescence, we were told that a man was going to fall on a bed of mousetraps. For minutes all you heard was the clickety-clack of the mousetraps going off. Someone assured listeners that if they watched it online it
would be funny.

As close as it got to the offensiveness of old was a song skit this morning about a man who meets a beautiful woman and takes her to bed only to find out that she has such a huge vagina that he's afraid to fall inside her and get lost. Pretty objectionable, I think, but it even felt forced. An attempt to "prove" that Jimenez hasn't changed his ways even if everything else in the show seems to indicates otherwise.


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