G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I expect Raquel Welch’s interview with Men’s Health to raise a couple of sets of eyebrows. It begins with a story about a white knight taking a tumble on her behalf. It’s mostly the tone of the conversation that gets me:
Raquel Welch: Well, what if I couldn’t stand up on my own? I didn’t want them to have to put my character in a wheelchair or hobble around with a crutch. But I healed very quickly and made it just under the wire. We’d been shooting, I don’t know, maybe two days, and we were on location outside of this big beautiful house in Pasadena. I got called to the set, and I had to walk across this area that was all gravel, and I’m wearing these very high-heeled sexy shoes. I’m kinda’ wobbling around and the guy who was escorting me to the set, who’s a big muscular guy, he says to me, “Let me carry you.”
MH: Very chivalrous.
Raquel Welch: Exactly, yes. And I said “Great, thank you.” Because I really didn’t need to fall down, especially with my broken foot just barely healed. So he picks me up and carries me, and we’re just past the gravel when he starts to lose his balance. We’re starting to fall, and I’m thinking, oh come on! This can’t be happening to me!
MH: Did he fall on top of you?
Raquel Welch: He would have, but he twisted his body around as we were falling, making sure I wouldn’t hit the ground. He took the brunt of the fall away from me. After we landed, David (Caruso) comes out and walks me to the trailer. He’s just white faced. “Are you okay? Are you okay?” I’m like, “I’m fine, it was nothing.” Meanwhile, the poor guy who was carrying me, everybody in the crew is razzing him mercilessly. They’re like, “He dropped Raquel Welch! What a schnook! What a doofus!”
MH: It sounds kinda fishy.
Raquel Welch: What does? Him falling? It wasn’t his fault! And he was so sweet, trying to protect me on the way down.
MH: Yeah, he “tripped” and then maneuvered himself so that you accidentally landed on top of him? Come on, that’s the oldest trick in the book.
Raquel Welch: You think so? I don’t know.
MH: There’s not a heterosexual man alive who wouldn’t pretend to fall if it meant you’d land on top of them.
It’s bad enough that the man is depicted as a beast of burden, but it’s even worse that this Men’s Health interviewer tries to blow smoke up Welch’s inert ass by pretending that any young, muscular man would go out of his way to get her on top of him. She’s over 70 years old; let’s get real. This gratuitous pandering isn’t helping anyone.
The topic turns to sexuality and pornography:
Raquel Welch: It’s just dehumanizing. And I have to honestly say, I think this era of porn is at least partially responsible for it. Where is the anticipation and the personalization? It’s all pre-fab now. You have these images coming at you unannounced and unsolicited. It just gets to be so plastic and phony to me. Maybe men respond to that. But is it really better than an experience with a real life girl that he cares about? It’s an exploitation of the poor male’s libidos. Poor babies, they can’t control themselves.
MH: I cannot dispute any of what you’re saying.
Raquel Welch: I just imagine them sitting in front of their computers, completely annihilated. They haven’t done anything, they don’t have a job, they barely have ambition anymore. And it makes for laziness and a not very good sex partner. Do they know how to negotiate something that isn’t pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?
Not like that attitude is helping the case. One wonders, though, how much blame Welch herself is willing to take for being part of the process towards the acceptance and ubiquity of pornography. Not that any of her movies were porn, but the amount of skin she showed on screen was certainly risque at the time, and surely a few young men fapped to her image. The depiction of sex on screen – any kind – helped deromanticize the actual process of sexual exploration.