Celebrity museum focuses on Latinos

By Chito de la Torre
    He's often called a walking encyclopedia of Tejano music.  Now Ramon
Hernandez has a traveling museum to compliment his ambulatory wisdom.
    "I'm doing the college circuit," says Hernandez who's worked as a publicist
for many artists including Selena and Little Joe. "I have different lectures
that I do.  It's a presentation slash exhibit.  If they want both a lecture
and an exhibit, entonces I can tailor it to what ever their needs are."
    Hernandez began work on the Hispanic Entertainment Archives in the late 80's
when he realized that little was being done to promote Tejano artists.
    "I saw the need for a publicist. No one was doing PR in la onda Tejana. 
There were no Hispanic publications, no Tejano publications.  This was in
1983," recalls Hernandez.  "If you wanted to go to a Little Joe dance the only
way you could get information is vete pa'l Westside, pa'l Southside and look
at the telephone poles, or look at the flyers in the resteraunts.  Ahora
gracias a toda la publicity and everybody, it's changed for the better. That
is what makes the difference, the media attention."
    Hernandez's traveling exhibit was most recently on display at the Pura Vida
Awards Fanfair and the Walk of Fame unveiling.  Including biographies, photos
and even clothing from the stars, the exhibit makes you feel like you are
really getting to know the artists it features.
    "That's Sonny Ozuna's," explains Hernandez pointing to a crushed velvet suit.
 "That was used in 1978 in his concerts. What I try to do is tell them to
donate something that they wore on an album cover, a poster or something
showing them in that outfit for the credibility."
    And the artists have really responded. In his archives, Hernandez has all
kinds of pants, dresses, hats, paintings, all donated by the artists.  "I feel
really honored, really privileged that they have opened up la puerta de sus
casas and de su closets."
    Hernandez has accomplished much work on his own.  Aside from collecting the
material in his archives ("enough to fill a four story museum," he says), he's
also published the Hispanic Entertainment Directory that lists everything
having anything to do with Latino entertainment, from the artists to record
labels, from media to clubs.  But he says the really big push for him came
when San Antonio's Univision television affiliate, Channel 41 KWEX-TV, let him
team up with the Pura Vida Awards.
    "As an individual as Ramon Hernandez, it's real rough to do anything on your
own.  You need to hook on to an organization, be part of a team, get somebody
that carries some weight so you can realize your dream,  and Waldo Cedillo
(producer of the PVA) and Steve Giust (Executive Producer of the PVA) have
been very supportive.  I approached them and told them, `mira, in conjunction
with the Pura Vida Awards, would you allow me to induct two people a year to
the Hispanic American Entertainment hall of fame' and they said `sure we'll do
    Inductions into the Pura Vida Hall of Fame began in 1992 with Sonny Ozuna. 
He was followed by Rene Rene, The Royal Jesters, Freddie Martinez, Little Joe
and Isidro Lopez.  This year Laura Canales and Lydia Mendoza were inducted.
    The exposure generated from his affiliation with the Pura Vida Awards has
brought  Hernandez one step closer to achieving his dream, opening up a real
    " Right now it's more like a library.  It's a public service and what I do is
that anybody who wants to do research on Tejano music or anything having to do
 with Latinos.  It's not limited to Tejanos.  If you want to get information
on Jose Jose, Juan Gabriel, Julio Iglesias, Rosio Durcal, we've got the
pictures.  We've got recordings, CDs, 78s, 33 1/3 RPM, tambien video.  And
celebrities doesn't mean strictly entertainers.  A celebrity can be a politician,
a sports personality, or it could be a writer like Sandra Cinseros.  
    What I offer is free. It's a public service  All they have to do is call me
and make an appointment.
    And if you'd like to tour the Hispanic Entertainment Archives, call 436-2616.
 By the way, Hernandez continues his traveling exhibit tour.  On July 7, he's
at the Corpus Christi Coliseum for the 10th Annual Hispanic Festival, and on
August 30-31 he's in Waco.
(c) L-news, 1996
--30-- (printed with permission)