You would think Luis Miguel would be used to the media spotlight. After all, he has been under it since he was 12.
But he remains famously private and press-shy, making only rare public appearances. So when he walked out to face some 200 members of the international media in Miami last November, he looked extremely uncomfortable.
Wearing a tight, formal black suit on this warm, humid night, Luis Miguel was sweating heavily and breathing rapidly. At one point, he worked a finger into his collar, saying to the crowd at Casa Casuarina, Gianni Versace's former mansion on Ocean Drive, ``It's hot, no?''
When asked whether he regretted any of the effects of his immense success, however, Luis Miguel didn't hesitate.
''It comes with the territory,'' he said. ``I knew that in doing what I wanted I would have to live with the consequences.''
He'll be back in the public eye again Saturday and Sunday when he plays two concerts at the Miami Arena, the latest stop on a tour that featured six sold-out shows at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheater. Luis Miguel may be uncomfortable with the pressures of fame, but he loves the attention and lives for the music.
''I think what really drives Luis Miguel is his love for music, his passion for life, the great respect he has for his career,'' says Mauricio Abaroa, president of Emilio Estefan's Crescent Moon Records and a man who worked with Luis Miguel from 1991-96, first as the head of artist and repertoire for Warner Music Mexico, the singer's label, and then as head of Luis Miguel's production company for two years.
``The contemporary history of the bolero is before and after Luis Miguel. You have to compare him to the greatest singers, because he's working toward that.''
So much so that it's hard to imagine Luis Miguel, 31, has time to experience the romantic emotions he sings about. He has spent almost his entire life as a star, recording his first album in 1982, then winning a Grammy three years later at age 15.
But it was the phenomenon he ignited with Romance in 1991 that took him into a different stratosphere. A recording of classic boleros, it introduced a new generation of fans to the traditional genre, selling more than 7 million copies internationally and marking Luis Miguel as the heir apparent to Julio Iglesias, then Latin music's supreme crooner and romantic idol.
Mis Romances, released last fall, is the fourth installment in Luis Miguel's bolero series. All four albums have been backed by lavishly produced concert tours, complete with mariachi and string orchestras, that provide a glittering, Las Vegas-style backdrop for his intimate material.
With his rich, powerful voice, Luis Miguel is one of the most vocally talented singers in Latin music. But his hyperbolic interpretations of such personal songs caused a Los Angeles Times reviewer to compare them to a disco version of My Funny Valentine.
For his part, Luis Miguel remains confident in the style that has defined his career.
''My competition is with myself, to maintain and to evolve,'' he said. ``This is the way I tell the history of love, and each new record is part of this series. I believe that the more you experience and the greater your maturity, the more this will be reflected in the work.''
Abaroa says that Luis Miguel is so protective of his privacy in part because he needs it for his music.
''He has achieved a seriousness in his professional and his private life, which I think he deserves,'' Abaroa says. ``I imagine that [his private life] delivers him a lot of personal richness, which, of course is reflected in his performances.''
But one result of finding love through best-selling music has been the unrelenting attention Luis Miguel's personal life draws. It's a situation intensified by Luis Miguel's tendency to get involved with other public figures, such as TV personality Daisy Fuentes and singer Mariah Carey.
Still, the consequences for anyone who tries to record these public pairings can be severe. Luis Miguel's bodyguards allegedly manhandled paparazzo Angel Mora after he snapped Luis Miguel and actress Sofia Vergara at South Beach restaurant Tantra last December.
''I get embarrassed by personal things,'' Luis Miguel says. ``One day I hope to have a family and another kind of love. But for now, I'm going to have love through my music . I continue more single than ever.''