The Queen of Trash is coming home.
Gloria Trevi, who dominated Mexico's pop music scene in the 1990s with such Madonna-like stunts as raffling off her panties at concerts, is returning after almost three years to face charges that she kidnapped young girls and forced them into sex with her manager, Sergio Andrade. She will be bringing with her Angel Gabriel, the 10-month-old boy she bore in the Brazilian prison where she has been locked up since January 2000 while fighting extradition to Mexico.
Trevi has never said who the father is or explained how she became pregnant in prison, although Brazilian authorities said Andrade is the father. Her pregnancy -- and her charges of ritual rape by prison guards or the rumors of self-insemination using plastic bags or ballpoint pens -- was only one in a stream of tawdry revelations surrounding what promises to be the most sensational trial this country has experienced in decades.
"There is nothing like Gloria's story," said Gabriela Aguilar, editor of the weekly magazine Dia Siete. "She was an icon for a generation, a symbol of irreverence, she was even an idol for intellectuals."
Trevi's much-anticipated return has prompted a media frenzy, with headlines, television stations preparing hours of Trevi programming and pro-Gloria Web sites posting welcome-home notices. Trevi was originally scheduled to return this morning, and fans lined up at the airport before dawn. But nothing about Trevi is predictable, and those plans were postponed at the last minute as Mexican and Brazilian authorities squabbled over what plane she would use. Officials said she would probably arrive in Mexico in the next day or so. She has denied the charges against her.
"I miss my country, I have confidence in God, in my lawyers, in my family and in justice," Trevi said as she prepared to leave Brazil.
There is already talk of a comeback.
"She will be on stage again," said Juan Carlos Villeda, 18, a fan who said he thought Trevi was the victim of a campaign of lies and said he still believed in the magic that "La Trevi" once made in her provocatively torn stockings and short skirts.
Prosecutors in the state of Chihuahua, where Trevi had a home, see it differently. They said they would file charges of accomplice to rape, kidnapping with intent to have sex, and corruption of minors against Trevi, a onetime idol to millions of little girls who trussed their hair and tore their tights to be like her.
Before her career crashed in sleaze, Trevi, 34, sold millions of albums, made blockbuster movies and posed for cheesecake calendars that flew off the shelves. She posed as a satanic figure holding a pitchfork and wearing nothing but a few dabs of paint and spike heels. She sold in Los Angeles as well as in Mexico City and was an early crossover success.
The government's stodgy suits and tsk-tsking Roman Catholic Church leaders loathed Trevi, which made ordinary Mexicans love her more. She was silly and sexy, with untamed red hair bouncing atop a body that, as she said, was made by God in a naughty mood.
But she did more than grind her hips for the masses: She also spoke to them. And soon her act became as important for what she said as what she shed. She spoke and sang about condoms, about unwed pregnant teenagers, about abortion. Although she was a rich girl who grew up with classical dance training, she became the angel of the lower classes and of Mexican women tired of their traditional role.
In concert, her signature moment was to tease a young man out of the crowd, then strip him to his shorts onstage, which she called the revenge of submissive Mexican women against a machismo culture that, in many parts of the country, still regards females as particularly well-designed dishwashing machines.
Trevi became a rarity for Mexico -- a female icon who challenged the society's ideas about a woman's place. The artist Frida Kahlo was a pioneer in this area, breaking taboos with her graphic painting and sex life. A key difference is that Kahlo, who died in 1954, got sweaty in private. Trevi paraded her sexuality in the public's face, using gritty language that delighted and inspired millions of Mexicans.
But in recent years, accounts of Trevi's secret life with Andrade have appeared in numerous books, including a fire-breather by Andrade's ex-wife. A book was released last year by Karina Yapor, who was recruited as a backup singer by Trevi when she was 12. Trevi and Andrade face charges based on Yapor's claim that she was raped by Andrade and had a child by him when she was 14.
The books accuse Andrade of enticing a number of star-struck young girls and persuaded them that the road to fame and fortune ran through his bed. Andrade, who remains in jail in Brazil, said in an interview in 2000 that he did have sex with some of the teenagers but that the allegations against him are a distortion and he was never the devil he has been made out to be.
But it was not Andrade that millions of Mexicans worshiped. It was Trevi, and the allegations against her have been hard for many to swallow. Andrade's wife, in her book, describes Trevi as everything that her public persona was not: submissive, weak and devoted to serving Andrade's sexual appetite.
Trevi was 14 when she met Andrade, who is at least 15 years her senior. He was the architect of her career and of her deal with Televisa, Mexico's leading television network. When Trevi and Andrade fled Mexico to avoid the charges against them, police caught up with them in an apartment on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, which Andrade, true to form, was sharing with Trevi and several other young women.
Trevi's return to Mexico will open a new chapter, probably one somewhere between the soaring heights and abyssal depths her career has known. In recent days, she has been photographed looking like a mom on her way to church, carrying her cherubic baby. People who have interviewed her note she looks good -- a little tired around the eyes maybe, but good.
Even sweet, and definitely impossible to ignore.