About 16 years ago, Spanish bombshell Charo called her accountant for a personal wealth update.

“I call my accountant and tell him I cannot take that crap anymore. I say, ‘How much money do I have?”‘ says Charo in a phone interview from her home in Beverly Hills. “He said to me, ‘You don’t have to take that crap. If a producer wants you to say ‘cuchi-cuchi,’ you don’t have to anymore.”‘

“That crap” was the hyper-active/sexy/comic persona that made Charo a rich, omnipresent celebrity in the 1970s. She appeared on talk shows, sitcoms and variety shows. She was famous for jiggling and shouting — you guessed it — “cuchi-cuchi.”

She was never allowed back then, she now says, to do what she came to America to do when she was still in her teens: sing and play flamenco-style guitar.

So when she got the word from her accountant that she didn’t have to worry about working, she decided to pursue her musical passion. She’s been doing so ever since, and on Wednesday, she’ll be in Maine for a show at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield.

That doesn’t mean her shows nowadays are devoid of spark and pizzazz. She wears “exciting costumes,” and sings contemporary Latin pop hits with a full band for the first part of her shows, while sitting on a stool to play guitar for the second part.

“There are two different faces to me — the cuchi-cuchi one and the serious musician,” says Charo in English that is still severely fractured after more than 40 years in the U.S. “On the way in, the audience say, ‘She’s cute, she look good,’ but on the way out, they say ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know she could do that.’ “

Since her career path shift, Charo has twice been named “Best Classical Flamenco Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine, and has been recording steadily. Her first flamenco album, “Guitar Passion” in 1994, was named best album by a female at the Billboard International Latin Music Conference.

Charo came to the United States in the late 1960s when she was still a teenager and had been discovered in Spain by popular Latin band leader Xavier Cugat. She had gained notice in Spain after studying guitar at a free music school set up by legendary guitarist Andres Segovia.

Charo married Cugat, but has said for many years the marriage was “just for business” and a way to get her legally into the country. How old she was then is unclear, because at some point in the 1970s, she went to court to have her birth year changed on U.S. records from 1941 to 1951. The latter is the year she claims is right.

Charo says booking agents and TV producers in the early ’70s weren’t ready for a female flamenco guitarist, so she got gigs with sex appeal and self-deprecating comedy.

In 1978, after a divorce from Cugat, she met Swedish businessman Kjell Rasten, and the couple soon married. They’ve been married for more than 30 years. In the mid-1980s, they moved to Hawaii to raise their son.

“I did not want to be the mother of a product of Hollywood child,” says Charo. “So we went to Hawaii to a start a new life for our son.”

She continued to perform in Hawaii, and even learned Japanese so she could entertain audiences beyond American tourists. She says she found the vowel sounds similar to Spanish, and that Japanese speakers tell her she doesn’t have much of an accent.

But English speakers would not tell her that. And Charo herself admits she’s never completely mastered English.

“My English sucks, so you’re probably only getting about 40 percent of this,” she says.

And she’s probably overestimating.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]