Ranferi and His Band of Boys

With a population of nearly 20 million, Mexico City is assured its fair share of absurd nooks and crannies. And in one of the nuttiest nooks, VBS arranged a meet and greet with boy band impresario and Mexican telenovela legend Ranferi Negrette. His group, known in Spanish as Ranferi y Sus Ranferis, all live together in a gated neighborhood in the southwestern outskirts of the sprawling city. The Ranferis are boys plucked from all over the Spanish-speaking world, handpicked to accentuate the stardom of Ranferi himself. Not only do these young men appear on stage singing and dancing in his orbit, but they graciously clean, cook, and tend to Ranferi Negrete’s every need at home. He is the star they revolve around and they are, literally, ‘His Ranferis.’ The drive out to Ranferi’s home is gritty—it’s not until you’re inside the protective cordon of his neighborhood security that the first hints of Ranferi’s audacity appear. Intersections crowded with water fountains of his own design point the way through the maze to his towering mansion. We expected extravagance, but the seven-story tall white compound fringed with barbed wire and guarded over by red and white flags was still a shock. I knew that the design of the house, the flags, the water fountains, and even the band’s clothing were attributable to Ranferi’s sideline gig as a Santeria priest. This smattering of inexact knowledge was all that I was armed with. As I entered the hypnotic world of Ranferi y Sus Ranferis for the first time, I was certain only of one thing—that a colliding of worlds was probably the least of my worries.

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