This week saw the passing of Yma Sumac, a Peruvian-born songstress with a multi-octave voice only Mariah Carey could hear. She was scooped up by Hollywood in the ’50s and made to chirp around the Andes in a couple of films, notably The Secret of The Incas, which the above insanely fabulous clip is apparently from. But did Yma have a secret of her own? When she swung into town in the ’90s to do a cabaret act that shattered my eyeglasses, I asked her if the old rumor was true that she was really Amy Camus from Brooklyn and studio heads reversed the spelling of her name to refashion her as an exotic South American dish. She said no way, and I totally believed her. Then again, I sometimes believe I’M not from Brooklyn either!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 4, 2008