The Troubled Side Of Ricky Martin

This article contains references to mental health issues, substance use, child abuse, sexual assault, incest, and domestic violence.

Ricky Martin is a globally recognized artist who boasts chart-topping hits. But the glitz and glamour of his life on stage haven't always translated to his personal life. Martin's life behind closed doors has been riddled with personal struggles, some of which have been broadcast to the world. Speaking about his sexuality, he told The Guardian that he felt isolated in living his sexual orientation alone. Publicly coming out subsequently had a profound impact on his life, and gave him a loving community of support. "I feel liberated," he said. "I feel in touch with myself."

After proudly announcing to the world that he was gay, Martin rode a wave of success. Sadly, his career fizzled down once again and he left the limelight while putting his energy into raising his family. According to US Weekly, the Puerto Rican performer is a family man whose focus in recent years has been on his husband, Swedish painter Jwan Yosef, and their four children, twins Matteo and Valentino, daughter Lucia, and son Renn.

That's not to say that he hasn't still been in the headlines — and not always for the best. As the troubled side of Martin shows, as much as he's managed to rise above some of his own personal issues, he's also faced some heavy accusations throughout his career. These are some of the challenges the "Livin' La Vida Loca" singer has experienced throughout his long career, as well as the severe allegations he's faced.

He faced deep depression before coming out

Prior to publicly coming out, Ricky Martin spent several years struggling to grasp his sexuality. He expressed feeling pressure to conform to what the entertainment industry wanted him to be. This quickly took its toll on the star. "My music was being heard all over the world, regardless of the language," Martin said during an episode of the "Proud Radio" podcast. "I could high-five God, but I wasn't living to the fullest. I was sad. I was depressed." 

Stifling his true self became overwhelming. Martin admitted to the podcast that performing on stage at this time was one of the few spaces where he felt he had an outlet to express himself freely. Performing gave him the capacity with which to break out of his depression and recalibrate his feelings.

As he explained to The Guardian, he felt pressured to live up to other people's expectations of himself. "I forced myself to believe that what they wanted could be my truth, my reality, and I went after it hardcore," he explained. At the height of his "Livin' La Vida Loca" success, his experiences with female lovers also made him question his sense of identity. "I would think, OK, maybe I'm bisexual ... because I can be with a girl, and it feels amazing," he said. "... And then you start ... trying to prove to yourself that you're not gay." 

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

His sexuality confused him

Coming out as a gay man was a huge step for Ricky Martin, and that moment didn't come easily. The star admitted that he was confused about his own sexuality for years and that it took him quite some time to fully understand his orientation. "Sexuality is one complicated thing," he said. "It's not black and white. It's filled with colors. When I was dating women, I was in love with women. It felt right, it felt beautiful,"  Martin told People. "You can't fake chemistry — the chemistry was there with them. I wasn't misleading anyone."

It wasn't until Martin took time away and threw himself into writing his own autobiography that he was able to fully embrace his sexuality. As he told "Proud Radio," he was still questioning whether he was gay or bisexual while he was figuring out how to put his life experiences and feelings into words. Ultimately he concluded, "Either is okay, just go within and do not lie to yourself." 

In 2010, the singer wrote an open letter on his website (via The Guardian) where he proudly came out as gay, stating, "I am very blessed to be who I am." Martin recalled the moment he felt free to be his authentic self,  "I said, 'Rick, you are a very fortunate homosexual man. You are gay.' And I wrote it and I pressed send, and then I cried like crazy. And I've been super happy ever since," he told "Proud Radio."

A Barbara Walters interview traumatized him

Ricky Martin has given many interviews over the span of his wildly successful career. However, none have apparently been as traumatic as the one he gave to Barbara Walters in 2000. During this particular interview, Martin sat down with the former "Today" host for what was supposed to be a friendly interview. During the course of their conversation, the notoriously inquisitive broadcast journalist addressed the topic of the singer's sexual orientation, putting him on the spot by asking him to reveal whether or not he was gay. Martin had not yet publicly come out at the time and was not prepared to discuss his personal life so publicly.

"You could stop these rumors. You could say, 'Yes I am gay or no I'm not,' Walters said in the interview. Clearly taken aback by her persistence, he cooly responded, "I just don't feel like it."

Several years later, Martin identified this conversation as one that continues to haunt him. Speaking to People, he revealed that he looks back on Walters' inappropriate interview as being invasive and distressing. "When she dropped the question, I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid," he explained. Appearing visibly uncomfortable just recalling the memories associated with that moment in time, he added, "There's a little PTSD with that."

Ricky Martin has social anxiety issues

Ricky Martin has graced some of the biggest stages in the world and has entertained thousands of screaming, adoring fans along the way. Yet the seasoned artist apparently experiences significant anxiety in social situations. During a June 2021 interview with People, the singer admitted to feeling socially awkward and experiencing insecurity. He also revealed that there's something different about being in more intimate environments that trigger the star. "I'm at peace with performing in front of 30,000 people and feel like the king of the world," he explained. "But then I walk into a small room at an intimate gathering, and someone will say, 'Hey Rick, sing a song for us!' and that creates such anxiety."

Martin's fears were amplified during the initial quarantine of the Covid-19 pandemic. Being forced to isolate was overwhelming for Martin, who posted a candid message on his Instagram Stories (via Hola!), describing his feelings. "The first two weeks were incredibly overwhelming for me," he wrote. "I felt paralyzed, the grief was intense. I was going through all the phases: denial, anger, sadness, acceptance and then I returned to denial in an hour." As he told People, Martin continues to work on his ability to manage daily stress and apprehension and avoids potential places that might trigger his anxiety. "I'm super socially awkward but today, well the difference is that I know I'm socially awkward," he shared.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

He canceled a tour due to depression

During the "Livin La Vida Loca" tour in 1999, Ricky Martin became overtaken by depression. He had not yet come out as gay at that time, and it was becoming excruciating for him to suppress his true identity in exchange for the persona he felt pressured to portray. "They would say to me, 'If you have a girlfriend, don't say so, because your fans are going to be disappointed,'" he shared with Variety. "Imagine if it had been a boyfriend! This is the mentality I grew up with." 

Speaking to the "Proud Radio" podcast, he recalled the deep sadness he felt at the time and described reaching a point where he could simply no longer keep up with his career commitments. Performing in Australia and with South America planned as the next destination on the tour, he became overwhelmed and had to hit the breaks on his professional trajectory. "I said ... I can't do this. I need to go home. I need silence. I need to cry. I need to be angry. I need to forgive myself for allowing myself to reach this level, to get to where I'm at,'" he explained. He then stepped back and took time for himself. 

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

He hit pause on his career

In spite of massive fame and fortune, Ricky Martin abandoned his career at the height of his success. The former "General Hospital" star recalled being bored and angry at a time that he realized he should have been soaking up his good fortune. In an interview with People (via Today), Martin explained his emotional turmoil. "There was a moment [in 2002] when I was onstage and I was just so angry," he said. "I thought, 'Something is wrong. I have the applause, I have a great band behind me, I live comfortably ... I was starting to become a victim of fame." He added that he felt frustrated at being unable to feel joy at such a momentous point in his career, which led him to leave his career entirely in search of a more balanced life. 

Having disconnected himself from that world, Martin found ways to plug back into his own needs. He told Rolling Stone that he learned Kriya yoga in India and practices the techniques for 20-40 minutes a day. "Nowadays, it's all about silence. Before, I'd walk into a room and turn on the TV even if I wasn't watching, because I needed company. The noise. It became a drug — a hard habit to break. Now, I walk into my room and silence," he said. "Every morning is sacred. I have breakfast in silence — nobody around me — and I meditate."

He struggled with problematic skin

Ricky Martin's time in the spotlight has revealed perfect, flawless skin. But that wasn't always the case, according to the artist. As a teen idol in the boy band Menudo, he endured several struggles with skin breakouts and he was deeply self-conscious about it. In a 2021 interview with Vogue, the star served up a candid recollection of his journey towards feeling comfortable for the cameras. "When you hit puberty ... your skin gets crazy and if you add makeup to that equation it's really horrible, so I really had a lot of issues," he said. "Eventually, I had to start taking care of myself." He told the outlet that the trick to good health and wellbeing was to prioritize your needs first and foremost and that everything would fall into place from there. 

In an interview with Allure, the star went on to reveal that many of the breakouts he had to contend with stemmed from his overuse of makeup during his performances. "I've been on the road since I was 12 years old," he said. "I've dealt with all kinds of skin issues." Martin now maintains a strict skincare routine and incorporates it into the silent moments of well-being he takes for himself. "It's about self-love," he told Vogue. "It's sexy to take care of yourself. Isn't it?" The star has since even become an ambassador for the brand, Kumiko Skincare

His former manager sued him for millions

In 2022, Ricky Martin's former manager, Rebecca Drucker, caused waves when she filed a $3 million lawsuit against the star for allegedly failing to adequately pay her, per an apparent verbal contract between the two. According to Deadline, the manager believes she is entitled to unpaid commissions that range from 5% to 10%. Documents she filed in court indicated that she was Martin's manager from 2014 – 2018 and again from 2020-2022. They specify, "Martin completely and maliciously refused to pay Rebecca the millions of dollars in commissions that he owes her under their management agreement."

Per People, the papers filed in court allege that Drucker helped Martin to secure recording contracts and sponsorship deals. She also supported him professionally with whatever he needed. The documents state, "With Rebecca at his side, Martin made millions of dollars and therefore owes Rebecca substantial commissions." The star has not yet issued a public response to these allegations.

This isn't the first time Martin has faced such legal trouble. In 2004, another of the performer's former managers, Angelo Medina, similarly sued him for breach of contract. The countersuit was filed a month after the "She Bangs" singer had sued Medina over an alleged $2.5 million that Martin said he was owed. According to Billboard, the two appeared to amicably reach a confidential settlement at the end of that year and even shared a hug during a press conference at the court.

His was accused of substance use issues

Unfortunately, Rebecca Drucker's lawsuit against Ricky Martin didn't sound quite as amicable. In her 15-page document, she made a series of allegations against Martin, one of which related to substance use issues, according to Deadline. Drucker's legal filing gave a stark warning to Martin, essentially notifying him that she planned to air some potentially explosive details about the star if he refused to comply with their financial agreement. "For years, she protected Martin from the consequences of his reckless indiscretions," stated the documents. Within them, Drucker also alleged she'd helped to support him through some potentially incriminating behavior, all the while dealing with a purported toxic work environment with Martin as her client. 

In the bombshell HBO documentary "Menudo: Forever Young" (via New York Post) many former members of the boy band alleged instances of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, as well as exposure to drugs. Martin was not part of the documentary and has not made his own statements to suggest he experienced similar. However, accusations from other former Menudo members suggest the young group may have been casually introduced to substance use. Sergio Blass, who was in the band between 1986 and 1991, described an occasion when a man entered his and Menudo member Rubén Gómez's hotel room. "He pulls out what must have been about a kilo of cocaine," he said. "... we freaked out ... the guy was actually one of the producers and promoters."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

His nephew accused him of incest

Ricky Martin found himself wading through some very murky water in 2022. On July 3, the New York Post reported that he was accused of domestic violence by an anonymous petitioner who had requested a temporary restraining order against him. Twelve days later, Marca reported that it was Martin's 21-year-old nephew who had raised the allegations, which included incest. Dennis Yadiel Sanchez, Martin's nephew, alleged that the two had been intimately involved for seven months. After ending his relationship with Martin, the singer was alleged to have continued showing up at his nephew's residence, despite being unwelcome. Under Puerto Rican law, serious allegations such as this can result in 50 years behind bars. 

Per TODAY, Martin's attorney, Marty Singer, released a statement denying all allegations, and suggesting Sanchez had mental health issues. This position was backed by the star's younger brother, Eric Martin, who claimed in a Facebook Live video (via Daily Mail) that his nephew had a troubled history.

On July 21, Sanchez requested that the restraining order be dismissed and that he didn't wish to pursue the case any further. It was stated that he did this of his own volition, per CNBC. In a video statement published by ET, the singer acknowledged how difficult this time had been for himself and his loved ones. "To the person that was claiming this nonsense, I wish him the best," he said. "And I wish he finds the help to start a new life."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.