The recently released Selena: The Series shows only one layer of the romance Chris Perez lived with Selena Quintanilla. According to Oprah Mag, in the 2012 book Perez wrote to the late Tejano singer, he described him and Quintanilla as “polar opposites.” The 51-year-old guitarist, songwriter, and author said that “she was lively and outgoing, and loved being in the center of attention. Meanwhile, I quietly observed whatever was going on in the fringes.”
When Perez met Selena Quintanilla in 1990, she was 18 years old, and he was 20 and had a girlfriend. A detail not exposed in the show. After a trip to Acapulco, Mexico with the band, the lead singer and the guitarist started a romantic relationship.
Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, opposed their romance and labeled Perez as a rebel. In an interview with Oprah Mag, actor Ricardo Chavira, who plays Abraham in Selena: The Series, described Mr. Quintanilla as a macho man. “Abraham is a Mexican American of a specific generation—a macho man. My father is like that. All of my tios are the same way. My father still goes around when he talks about his daughters; These are our women. We have to protect our women. There’s a bit of toxic masculinity to it,” Chavira says. “I do have those old school ideals in me. But I have a 12-year-old daughter, and I’m trying to teach her about being someone independent, and someone who can stand on her own two feet.”
In the biography, Perez revealed that in Mexico, he got the chance to know Selena more in-depth and that she was “truly free to be herself.” According to the Texas native, the first time they hold hands was on the plane ride home. After the vacation, their feeling started to develop. “Our feelings for each other had begun to build after that trip to Mexico, despite the constant scrutiny of Selena’s parents and the band members within the close quarters of the bus,” Perez wrote.
To avoid attracting more attention to them and their romance, Perez and Quintanilla began a secret relationship “We were in Laredo when we had our conversation about how we both felt the same way about each other. Selena had the biggest smile on her face when we were walking back to the bus afterward...I wanted to tell her, ‘Hey, quit smiling! You’re going to give it away,’” Perez told Texas Monthly, according to the publication. Selena and Chris finally kiss inside ”Big Bertha,” the bus Selena y Los Dinos used for touring.
For Chris, it was essential to stay out of trouble with Abraham. Mr. Quintanilla’s “word was law,” and if he didn’t want Selena to date him, it would be the end. ”I saw him as a threat. What if they got married and he pulled her out of the band? All the work we did all those years would go down the tubes.” Perez said.
According to Perez, Mr. Quintanilla told his late daughter that Chris wasn’t the right person for her. “He has nothing to offer you,” Abraham Quintanilla told Selena. In the book, he also revealed that Selena’s older sister, Suzette Quintanilla, broke the news to Mr. Quintanilla. “‘I don’t know what’s going on with you guys, but whatever it is, it stops right now,’” the 81-year-old singer-songwriter and record producer told the couple.
However, according to Mr. Quintanilla, he has a different recollection of how he found out that the “Amor Prohibido” singer was in a relationship with a band member. “I didn’t realize what was going on until we were coming home one time from McAllen, and I saw them hugging. I stopped the bus in Harlingen at two or three o’clock in the morning and exploded. I fired Chris on the spot. I dropped him off in a Whataburger parking lot and said, “You find your way home,‘” Abraham told Texas Monthly.
Perez described the situation as tumultuous and exhausting. “I just wanted out. I was tired of having these nervous feelings, like I was doing something wrong by falling in love with Selena. I was sick of being around Abraham, who was doing everything possible to make my life miserable,” he wrote.
After Chris went back home, Selena was feeling “miserable”; therefore, she came to the conclusion to marry the love of her life. “‘There’s no other way. We have to elope,’” she said. The same day they became husband and wife at the Nueces County Courthouse. “I had jeans and a T-shirt on when we went to the courthouse,” Perez told Texas Monthly. “I don’t remember a lot of details because I was kind of in shock when all this was happening. I was thinking, “Oh, my God, we’re doing this. Oh, my God, what are we doing? Oh, my God!” The next thing I knew, it was over, and we had been pronounced man and wife.”
“I felt with great certainty that remembering those marriage vows would always be a sort of glue holding us,” he wrote. “We had every intention of living happily ever after. Nobody could stop us from doing that now.”
When Abraham learned that Selena married Chris, he accepted him as a new member of the family and apologized for his behavior. “‘I’m sorry I pushed you, kids, into a corner,’” Abraham said, according to Perez’s book. “’Let’s just continue from here. We’ll go on doing what we were doing as a band, and we’ll move forward over this bump in the road.’”
Selena and Chris moved to one of the three houses Mr. Quintanilla owned in Texas; they adopted five dogs and a ball python.
Three years into their marriage, Selena was murdered by Yolanda Saldívar when she was 23 years old.