Last weekend I finally watched the much-reviled film version of one of my favorite novels, Myra Breckinridge, starring Raquel Welch as the titular “T” and film critic Rex Reed as her masculine alter-ego. Rounding out the wonderful—but odd!—cast are Farrah Fawcett as the bland and stupid Mary Ann, John Huston as former film star and “happy ending” enthusiast Buck Loner, and Mae West—yes—as the foul mouthed sexaholic talent agent Leticia Van Allen.
First, I thought Raquel was absolute genius as Myra. To wit:
Myra is a classic Hollywood-obsessed instructor at a hippy-dippy acting school in LA. She wears outlandish, drag queeny outfits (a pre-cursor to Ugly Betty‘s Alexis Meade, perhaps?) and seeks to “destroy the American male in all its forms,” which she does in the butt:
The novel is brilliant, and while the film has its troubles, I think audience response to it—widespread panning—was due primarily to its frank confrontation of sexual mores and sexual liberation. A homosexual member of the school’s faculty talks openly about being gay and at one point, even dismisses himself by saying he has to finish putting his make-up on. Was America ready for this then? Probably not. Nor were they ready to see a studly young man get ass-bumped by a beautiful woman who may or may not be anatomically correct.
But I’m ready. At least, I was ready.
“I am Myra Breckinridge, whom no man shall possess!”