Since time immemorial—the year 2000, to be precise—the gossiping puppet known as La Comay has plagued the Puerto Rican community. Infamous for delivering biased news and harmful gossip, and being involved in dozens of lawsuits, the man behind the doll, Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa, has been one of the most controversial figures in Puerto Rican culture—and once again, he’s back on TV.
SuperXclusivo, the gossip-news show that aired on WAPA for thirteen years, was Santarrosa’s most popular stint on TV. With the prime time slot of 6:00pm, La Comay was widely tuned-in all over Puerto Rico and various cities in the United States dense with Latinx people. Everything changed when people finally got tired of his casual homophobic, racist, sexist and overall bigoted comments.
Dozens of protesters held demonstrations in front of WAPA’s studios back in 2012 demanding that the TV station take the show off the air. The protests began after Santarrosa implied that the murder of José Enrique Gómez Saladín was related to the publicist’s promiscuous behavior. The puppeteer pinned the blame on Gómez Saladín for being at a “focal point for homosexual activity” at the time of his death.
A movement made up of thousands of enraged citizens, simply known as “Boicot a la Comay”, named after a Facebook group with over 60,000 members, began to topple the doll’s ambitions. Most of SuperXclusivo’s sponsors had retired their support toward La Comay, meaning that the show’s value quickly declined.
Soon afterward, WAPA’s most recent contract for Santarrosa showed a significant decrease in his split of the earnings made from SuperXclusivo. The TV host was upset, and promptly quit after not accepting the new terms of his contract. Activists celebrated how they wouldn’t have to tolerate any more sexist, fatphobic and racist comments on local television.
This was the case until Santarrosa returned to the small screen through Mega TV, back in early 2019. The new format of the show was simply named La Comay. There, business ran as usual, until protests arose once again after the TV host made racist comments toward senator Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, who was running as one of the two senators at-large for the Citizens’ Victory Movement. After LGBTQIA+ activist Pedro Julio Serrano reached out to the program’s sponsors, many of them withdrew their support.
This didn’t stop the show from running, though—not until December 18th, when La Comay’s last episode aired on MegaTV. Although the media had reported that this would be her last waltz, the episode ended on an eerie note. The show quotes Arnold Schwarzenegger with a clip from one of the Terminator movies: “I’ll be back,” implying that La Comay would return soon. Just like that, two months ago, Liberman Media Group, owners of the recently rebranded TeleOnce, announced that they signed a contract to bring Santarrosa’s character back on the airwaves.
Since March 1st, La Comay has been up and running on Puerto Rico’s Channel 11. It seems that, no matter what, Santarrosa seems to be destined to return regardless of the many protests, lawsuits and controversies he’s faced over his 20+ year-long career of mudslinging and yellow journalism. Whatever may be the case, it seems that La Comay continues to bring in ratings despite her highly polarizing presence.
Prior to the 2020 elections, Santarrosa faced criticism after sexualizing Alexandra Lúgaro’s daughter by discussing an Instagram picture and implying that it was taken with an overtly sexual overtone. Demonstrators marched once again, but this time in front of SBS Studios. These protests weren’t enough to get her off the air, but the anti-Comay sentiment is still fresh.
If anything, La Comay’s return to TV makes clear that Puerto Rico’s society still has much to learn and reflect upon. Despite repeatedly attacking public figures, making bigoted comments, and delivering highly biased information from a moralist perspective, Puerto Ricans continue tuning into Santarrosa’s filth. Although many have moved on from La Comay and everything she symbolizes, many cling to the doll’s rotting corpse—a reminder that many sympathize with her bigotry.
Santarrosa has also contributed to tarnishing the journalistic work of many serious communicators on the Island. By delivering his gossip and ill-researched news as facts, he normalized yellow journalism within contemporary society. Now, many citizens are unable to distinguish between credible news sources and gossip. News platforms with little to no concern for fact-checking and the public good get way too much attention, while platforms that seek to uphold traditional news values are criticized when pandering to those who want to read frivolous stories.
For better or worse, La Comay has left her mark on our society. Whether or not she will face another boycott remains to be seen, but if it happens, not many people would be surprised. Hopefully, the next time Santarrosa leaves, it’ll be for good.