Ã‰lan Luz Rivera is killing us softly with dÃ©jÃ vu. First, there's her multicultural recording trio, the DEY, featuring two other guysâ€”Divine and Yeyoâ€”most dudes don't even acknowledge. And secondly, she's an accomplished, Broadway-seasoned actress turned singer. Fugees, anyone?
Look past those common factors, though, and Rivera, 22, and Lauryn Hill couldn't be any more different. Rather, look at her butterscotch-toned curves. The half-black, halfâ€“Puerto Rican stunner's left hip alone is equivalent to two of L-Boogies'. But most important, unlike Ms. Hill, the lifelong New Yorker is single, the result of having dated a forgettable roster of diverse duds (including an Italian and a Turk). If your knowledge of foreign vernacular is more pequeÃ±o than grande, though, chances of changing her relationship status are sadly nada. Damn, what's Spanish for blue balls?
The DEY's music is like a hip-hop melting pot. This is KING, though, not Rolling Stoneâ€”is your taste in men just as eclectic?
I don't discriminate. In high school, I dated a white dude for, like, two days [laughs]; I dated an Italian for a week; then I dated a Guyanese guy. I've traveled a lot, so the whole background doesn't really matter to me. You know what's funny, though: I don't date the guys in my group.
Damn, you beat me to the question.
Maybe the 12-year-old version of me would have fallen in love with Divine, but today I'm a little different. I consider them my brothers.
Meaning no future "Ex Factorâ€ songs. What makes a man sexy to you?
I think bilingual men are sexy. Because if I went to India one day, I'd be like, "If you don't know how to say paaniâ€”waterâ€”we have a problem.â€ I can't hold you up; you got to hold yourself up.
Partial to tongue skills, are you?
Yes, bilingual and brains. And if they're not bilingual, they could get bilingual [laughs].
Is a man's verbal game all that matters?
I also like a man who likes to venture out and go to good restaurants and knows how to use a fork and a knife. That is so important. You see guys eating with their mouths open and who think "fine diningâ€ is tacos.
So what could a classy man with etiquette receive in return?
I'll cook for you. Not in the beginning, though.
You're a tease.
Men never leave if you cook their favorite dish, so I withhold. You have to keep some secrets to yourself.
OK, but tell us a secret. You must be tired of the Fugees comparisons, right?
We get compared all the time, and it's pretty much the same answer: We like it [laughs]. We got to open up for Wyclef at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, which is so packed that I could never even go. So now I'm like, "Woo! I'm an artist, and I'm opening for Wyclef, and we have a single! And I'm in a pair of Jimmy Choos, looking hot!â€
Look who's the exhibitionist! How was taking it off for KING?
Being a Latina, we like to feel sexy and show off. But at the same time, we're not that stick-figure Hollywood body. So going into it, you feel nervous, because you're a real woman with shapes and curves. We have this thing that I call the second hip. Every show that I've been in on Broadway, when they fit me, I ask, "Did you measure my second hip?â€ And they go lower.
Do you need a measurement right now, by any chance? For research purposes, of course.
[Laughs] My waist is very tiny, and I'm so happy about that, being Latin. You try to work out and get your waist a little small. I have this nice regular hip and this nice, black, sexy curve right there. Then, lower, you get my butt. But right around the booty area where the thighs meet, it's this extra hip, and it's sexy.
[Laughs] But it's not the typical American body. I think it's great that now we have shows like Ugly Betty. Its like, hey, we're real women with real curves, and now we have a chance to show them off in a way that we don't have to feel so self-conscious about. I definitely feel that it's an honor as a black-and-Latin woman to be in KING and be proud of my body.
Trust us, the pleasure is all ours.
To see more of Ms. Rivera and the rest of the DEY, check out the June 2008 issue of KING