Raquel!

I can honestly say without hyperbole that I have seen the face of a Goddess in the form of Raquel Welch, whose 1970 TV special, RAQUEL! must be considered the pinnacle of the musical variety oeuvre. Yes, yes, we all knew about her dynamic thespic graces and feral full-bodiness, but did you know she could sing and dance too? Leave it to the multi-faceted Welch to interpret “California Dreaming” amid the gray streets of Paris with thoughtful new lyrics (“I looked into a church/I passed along the way/Oh my mind was so at ease/And I recalled the day.”) and an unthought of space-age performance dance a’ go-go in NASA-realistic Bob Mackie outfits.

vcraquel4The literal peak of the special must be Raquel! as a sacrificial Goddess leading a troupe of costumed Zodiac figures in an epic rendition of “Aquarius” set on the steps of an actual Aztec pyramid in Teotihuacan. You’ll wonder who or what was sacrificed to produce this spectacular pop desecration. I can almost see the virgin blood spilling down the stone ruins as Raquel! guides us through the astrological spirit world as only someone of her mystic power could. The Aztec dance number threatens to achieve almost 30 seconds of artful subtly as the camera pulls back from the pyramid lined with colorful zodiac characters, flying away from Raquel!’s distant Goddess frame overlooking the sacred temple until the entire ancient landscape spreads out in windy silence. Aquarius.

And if that’s not enough to alter the history of song interpretation, how about Raquel! schlussing like George Lazenby’s stunt double through blankets of powdery Aspen snow as she sings Helen Reddy’s “Peaceful”? She then launches her own brand of fabulous vocal earnestness on “The Sounds Of Silence,” “Here Comes The Sun,” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” That’s not all folks. You’ll know you have approached the lip of Valhalla once John Wayne saunters out to teach Raquel! how to properly shoot and kill using stock footage before we cut to our dynamic duo visiting a Mexican orphanage, dispensing their own brand of Amurrican charity, Movie Star style. She genuflects for a daringly humble moment as all these brave children must have found a home in her heart.

Oh and did I mention Tom Jones? Perhaps I shouldn’t because only he manages to douse Raquel!’s talent bonfire — she doesn’t need HIM. Especially in a duet of  “Tutti Frutti.”

vcraquelboxThis is not all fun and wonder though. As Raquel! savors her version of “Everybody’s Talkin'” we get a rarified glimpse into her fish-bowl existence of press and flesh huggers as she dispenses the fruits of her wisdom tree, even dissing Hugh Hefner with a pithy, succinct, “I don’t agree with his philosophy, but the paper it’s printed on is very good.” This is a wonderful introspective glance at her mad-cap, pell-mell, jet-set, famous-person life-style. And she eschews the phrase “sex-symbol” since to her mind, that’s what they call a bosomy star who doesn’t fit into easily quantifiable categories. Did the Duke and those orphans know that the same year Raquel! was delivering her cosmic message to the masses, she would also play the title role of the X-rated, MYRA BRECKENRIDGE, featuring a scene with her in a Miss America bikini as she woops it up anally raping a male actor with a strap-on dildo? Perhaps it best they didn’t know; the turbulent 1970 universe could only handle so much cultural schizophrenia.

myra-breckinridge-raquel-welchSpeaking of climaxes, RAQUEL! winds up to her special’s penultimate number as she sings and shimmies with Bob Hope in a Western duet massacre of “Rocky Racoon” replete with Welch as Mae West and Hope as…Bob Hope. Did television audiences know that Mae West herself was also in MYRA BRECKENRIDGE? The synchronicity is astounding. But not as glorious as the close-ups of Hope’s comedic grace in full bloom — all he has to do is mug and swallow with iconic nose in profile and the laugh machine responds like opening night at The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. The Beatles must have been awed by this teaming of two celebrity giants warbling “Rocky Racoon” and I sense the subtle genius of Bruce Villanch behind these bits of comedy revue gold.

But what the Goddess giveth, she taketh awayth. And as Raquel! and Hope strolled off together into the back-lot sunset, I wanted to follow them — nay, HER, this complex multi-media babe on all her global spanning adventures through time and space. And I won’t be sated until every man, woman and child on planet Earth has witnessed this 1970 Lost Ark of the Pop Covenant…O’ Raquel!

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15 Responses to “Raquel!”

  1. Like, wow. You wrote me into speechlessness.

  2. RAQUEL! shatters all conceptions of time, space and groove.

  3. Check out the dancer tripping at 1:44. And yet, they cut to a different angle and he’s on his feet. How do they DO that?!

  4. How dare you question RAQUEL!

  5. I am simply in awe. In awe.

    I have never seen a dance like that before. I obviously need to see the whole thing.

    I. Am. Agog.

  6. RAQUEL! approves. You may enter. And WATCH!

  7. She is no Megan Fox. But, man, it would to see Megan reenact this. Or Jessica Alba/Biel.

    FOX POWER BOW.

  8. No, you need somebody with a real 60’s go-go body. Nobody can touch RAQUEL!

  9. Megan Fox > RAQUEL!

    Not even CLOSE.

    And Biel has the best body in the history of women. She’d rock that go-go shit.

    Ah, it’s so fun to annoy christian.

  10. Keep telling yourself that. The shelf life of an issue of Maxim.

  11. Jessica Biel is pretty smokin’, ’tis true but I’d take Carla Gugino over her in a sec. And I could see her rockin’ that go-go dancing stuff!

  12. RAQUEL!’s outfits would eat Biel for an apertif.

    Where is THE FUTURIST! when you need him?

  13. I’d like to eat Biel for an apertif.

    ZING. GOOD JOKE.

  14. Must you be so obtuse?

  15. […] You know how people are always talking about the “Age Of Aquarius”? Or some people. Or me. It feels like it’s always supposed to be that age when I read some astrology reports. But guess what? Neptune has entered Pisces and that really is supposed to be the Age Of Aquarius. Or something. The Mayans knew things. So does RAQUEL! And to honor this cosmic shift of humanity, what better way than to have RAQUEL! herself usher in this holy era with a Vegas style revue on the side of an ancient Mexican temple from her legendary 1970 TV special, which I honored here: […]

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