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<i>Wonder Woman</i> Lynda Carter’s “Rock ‘n Roll” Fantasy Tribute to Bette Midler, Tina Turner, and KISS!

Wonder Woman Lynda Carter’s “Rock ‘n Roll” Fantasy Tribute to Bette Midler, Tina Turner, and KISS!

Music, Television

When I found this clip of statuesque Lynda Carter, known to the world as Wonder Woman, performing a tribute to Bette Midler, Tina Turner, and KISS from her 1979 TV variety special I was sure that Christmas had come early.  I would be a chump if I didn’t disseminate it posthaste.  My commentary here could add little, as what makes Lynda Carter’s Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy essential is so immediately obvious I would never risk offending the sensibilities of Stargayzing readers.  Well—okay, maybe just a few thoughts.

Lynda Carter full body

The number begins with Lynda pulling up in a dark soundstage in a fancy sports car singing Bad Company’s “Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy.”  This musical device structures the entire number and is a terrible idea to begin with, though typical of TV variety shows of the period.  I like it because we know we are in dangerous territory right out of the box, which is strangely relaxing.  The idea of a middle-of-the-road vocalist like Lynda Carter singing about rock music to a bland pre-recorded track by a studio orchestra is risky business, but since the whole thing is ostensibly happening in her head, I should shut up.

On a fashion level, I really love Lynda’s fur jacket.  Elisa and I called them “Pescows” back at Chelsea Girl Vintage after the amazing Donna Pescow, who wore a jacket quite similar to this in Saturday Night Fever. Now say what you want about Miss Carter, but she was a very agreeable performer who inarguably had about the best body in Hollywood (she remains today an impressive looking woman at 60), but her Tina Turner—the first fantasy—though sweet, lacks everything that made Tina Turner so great except, possibly, the legs.  The costumes look like vintage Bob Mackie to me and they’re great.

The transitions between the fantasies are achieved with the blurry camerawork trope that has indicated we are going into a dream since time immemorial and, quite strangely, the high pitched repetition of the word “fantasy, fantasy, fantasy,” etc.  Perhaps this is the audio equivalent of what the camera is doing at this moment.  This is also very literal and a bad idea and I like it very much for that reason. Once safely transitioned into the KISS segment, Lynda makes a curious choice: since she wasn’t bold enough to actually be Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley, she opts instead to dance with four guys pretending to be them while decked out in an over-the-top Bob Mackie Vegas thing—replete with a showgirl headdress that looks like it weighed 60 pounds— that was exactly the kind of outfit Cher wore in Vegas in 1979.  This doesn’t exactly work, but who am I to shit on Lynda’s fantasy, fantasy, fantasy?  She comes down from the ceiling singing “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”—this is, after all, a rock ‘n roll fantasy, does a few shenay turns, and that’s that.  The whole thing is very Kiss of the Spider Woman and it’s over much too fast.

After another clunky transition, it’s time for Bette Midler.  One would think this would work better, but Lynda’s Bette is worse.  She sings Friends” in a banana outfit, even down to a banana mic, backed up by a bunch of gorillas.  This seems fair enough, but Lynda portrays Bette as a frump, something the Divine Miss M was not (certainly not in her The Rose glory year, 1979, which is the same year as this special).  In fact, Lynda’s Bette is less like Bette and more like Cher’s character Laverne from the laundromat, and this is very confusing to a gay person.

Luckily this fantasy is as brief as the others and before we know it we’re back in the car with Lynda in her “Pescow” and coming out of her reverie.  The button on the number is she looks down and she’s holding the banana mic from the Bette sequence!  Get it?  Watching this really makes me appreciate the 1970s, an era when all you needed was a bad a idea, a few pas de bourrees and a camera.

So tell me Stargayzers, which of Lynda’s fantasies do you like best?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIHPOX2rFB8
 

More 1970s variety show zaniness:

Florence Henderson Singing “That Old Black Magic” on The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

Eating With the Stars: Wayland Flowers and Madame’s Muffins, Plus a Musical Number with Bea Arthur

Mary Tyler Moore Performing Paul McCartney’s “With a Little Luck”

If Marie Osmond Sang “Memory” From Cats on a Telethon in 1982 but Nobody Listened, Did it Make a Sound?

16 Comments

  1. Lauren
    March 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm
    Reply

    David,

    Thank you so much for sharing this horror show. I hope Linda got the director and choreographer at a discount, as this has to be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, though the costumes were awesome! Thank you so much for sharing and giving me a huge laugh for a Monday morning.

    Lauren

    P.S. Is there a hidden gem somewhere with Linda dreaming about Judy Garland with sparkly Munchkin dancers?

    • David Munk
      March 25, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Lauren! Thank you for taking the time to read my humble little piece. Knowing that I cheered even one person up is the greatest compensation for all of the work. And yes, I am aware of the Lynda Carter Wizard of Oz-themed original song, but I have to mete out the goodies systematically! Definitely something to look out for in the future! In the meanwhile, I hope you’ll sign up for my monthly newsletter on the front page or follow me on twitter (Stargayzingone) Thanks again! David

  2. Sherwin
    April 11, 2013 at 12:08 am
    Reply

    I vote for the Kiss segment because of the sexy costume. What can I say?

    • David Munk
      April 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      A fine choice, indeed Sherwin! David

  3. Sherwin
    November 19, 2013 at 8:33 pm
    Reply

    Great thing about getting old. My memory is shot. Like I never saw it before. Here it is November but I still want to post the same thing I did in April. I still love the sexy costume. There, I said it again.

  4. Jamie
    December 1, 2013 at 11:24 am
    Reply

    I Vote for the whole thing because Im a HUGE KISS and Lynda Carter fan. In the 70s and today my big loves were watching Wonder Woman and listening to KISS so for me this a treat from heaven! Its cheesie but who cares! I rather have sweet memories than nothing. Im happy other enjoyed this

    • David Munk
      December 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Jamie. So glad you enjoyed the piece as much as I enjoyed writing it! Stay in touch. David

  5. Todd
    April 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    Reply

    HA! I agree with you that this is very confusing to a gay person.
    Thank you!
    T

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