Sunday Funday

How to have the best Sunday in L.A., according to Charo

Illustration of a woman's face with many activities and items around her head: red high heels, "Cuchi Cuchi," guitar and food
(Samuel Rodriguez / For The Times)
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Charo has always been larger than life.

From her bedazzled, Day-Glo-colored costumes to her signature sky-high ponytail, the multihyphenate performer has always married the gaudy glitz of Vegas showgirls with a sense of humor.

“I choose to be like that — a stupid beach with an attitude,” she quipped on our call. “During the day, I’m more stupid. But the night belongs to me — it has magic for me. I feel free, I feel no problems.”

In Sunday Funday, L.A. people give us a play-by-play of their ideal Sunday around town. Find ideas and inspiration on where to go, what to eat and how to enjoy life on the weekends.

Even her full name — María Del Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza Rasten — commands a certain level of attention, though she’s known mononymously, like some of the world’s top performers: Beyoncé, Madonna, Cher, Charo. (Your next chance to see Charo live is on Sept. 16 in Rancho Cucamonga.)


Famous as both a world-class flamenco guitarist and the person who coined the term “cuchi-cuchi,” she moves through the world with an unpretentious kindness and excitement.

So when she makes her rounds in Beverly Hills, it’s no surprise that she regards everyone with the openness and reverence of a good friend. From entertaining friends to attending Catholic Mass, here’s how Charo would spend a perfect Sunday in L.A.

10 a.m. Rise and shine (when she’s good and ready)

If I have a choice, I will wake up at noon. But I haven’t [been] waking up at 12 — for the past year, I’m waking around 10 in the morning, even on Sunday. I never drink coffee because if I drink coffee with caffeine, my neighbor will have to call 911. So little by little, I wake up, take a shower, put on sneakers, put on a very tight bra — because without it your maracas will pull down to the floor in two or three weeks, so I run with two tight bras.

10:30 a.m. Go for a run around Beverly Hills

I put on a leotard and then I run for my life, just feeling the wind to make sure that I can rule the world. Although I have a gymnasium in my house, there’s this great feeling when you’re riding the wind and you can float. Just feel the wind and stretch your body and your legs and everything.


I am full of el toro poo poo. I would like to tell you I can run three miles, but I don’t think I’d make it one mile and a half. Then, after, I look like a cucaracha.

11:30 a.m. Take a long shower

I go home and take the longest shower I can and dry my hair. Then I start thinking “OK, it’s Sunday. Sunday funday is a no-cooking day.” It’s a rule, no cooking in the house. No matter if it’s a happy day or a busy Sunday, it’s a no-cooking day, and God bless the restaurants that are available for us to sit down, relax, order some food and not clean dishes.

2 p.m. Get brunch at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel

A few days ago, I was entertaining guests, and because it’s very near where I live, I took them to the Polo Lounge. It’s very entertaining because there’s a lot of celebrities there. They caught me by surprise because I don’t drink coffee, but they insisted — “Would you like to taste our coffee,” I said “No.” “Would you like to taste our coffee?” and I said “OK, bring the coffee” — and they put your face in the coffee!

I think they go to the internet, and they probably find you on social media, and then they pick the picture. And somehow — they didn’t tell me how they did it — but when they send you the coffee, you realize, “This is me!” A very clear, clear, clear, clear picture. It was the worst photo anyone could pick, but on top of the coffee I look cute.


5 p.m. Go to Mass (she’s Catholic)

I go to church — I live not too far away from the Church of the Good Shepherd, a beautiful little church. One of the priests is called Father Ed, and he is very real. And he’ll tell you things that really make a lot of sense. When I’m in L.A. I do that, but when I’m on tour it’s almost impossible. It would be beautiful if I caught the 12 o’clock [Mass], but if not there’s another one for people like me at 5 o’clock.

6:30 p.m. Dinner at Il Fornaio

I am vegetarian, because I raised a baby bull, Manolo Martinez, and if people spent time raising cows or any kind of animal — a turkey, a chicken — you will never eat it anymore. You discover that they feel pain, happiness, emotion, loneliness.

I have many favorite restaurants near where I live, and you only have to walk, you don’t have to park. A lot of the waiters and chefs around are Latino, and they’re my friends and my sister’s friends, so we go to Il Fornaio, and the building looks like one restaurant in Sorrento, Italy. It’s very friendly, the majority of them speak Spanish, and you can walk in without a reservation. I know all of the workers at Il Fornaio, and it’s fun because my sister and I talk with them about, “What are you cooking today, how is your cuchi-cuchi life?”

8 p.m. Go for a walk around the yard or the house


On a good day, I eat what I am forbidden to eat — sugar sugar sugar, ice cream, chocolate — I love everything that is bad for you. So if I feel that I ate too much, I’ll move my feet and do some jumping to let it down. Maybe I’ll run if nobody is around.

8:30 p.m. Watch TV or a movie

If I was with my boyfriend, or my partner, or when I was married, of course you want to go see them and enjoy a perfect evening of a perfect day. But in my case, since I lost my husband, after dinner I try to relax.

We have a phrase, barriga llena, corazón contento, which means full stomach, happy heart. So I relax, and either watch TV or download a movie.

10 p.m. Practice guitar and write some jokes

If it’s possible, I have a meditation moment about what I did today and get ready for Monday. I write down my thoughts because I think that I am a genius. Because I think I’m brilliant, I will do some writing — some jokes or anything — because I think at night I know everything. That’s how I got the song “Caliente,” it came to me at night.


Then I practice guitar for about an hour or two. Every night, I have to practice, no matter how tired I am. No beautiful melody, because that will put me to sleep, just scales. I don’t play with a pick, I never touch the string of the guitar with a pick, I touch it with my fingernails. That is a serious, serious, serious routine that I’ve got to do every night. Otherwise I feel so empty, something in my brain won’t know that I’ve completed the day.

Then it’s already 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. And then the next day when I wake up, I read what I wrote, and it’s a piece of s— — I’m not a genius.