Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Charo - The Greatest Spanish Entertainer of the 20th Century and Andy Warhol The Greatest Entertainer of the 20th Century
Charo Baeza, fiery flamenco guitarrist, trained with Andres Segovia, was discovered by band leader Xavier Cugat in the 1960s and launched to international stardom in the 1970s thanks to fabulous records featuring her Spanish flamenco guitar meets 1970s disco stylings meets easy listening. She appeared in talk shows, charming Carson et al with her heavy Ejpaneeesh Akzent, big blond hair toss, plunging necklines, and lukewarm casino/stripper/vedette choreographies. Her signature phrase, understandable in any language: CUCHI CUCHI.
My father, whose accent is in fact similar to hers, was convinced that SHE was faking it to charm the Americans. In any event, for me it was a revelation to see a Spaniard, any Spaniard on American TV growing up in here in the late 70s and early 80s. Her fame was cemented thanks to a recurring role as APRIL on The Love Boat. She was a demure secretary suddently thrust into the limelight when, as Julie frantically tried to find a substitute for the shipboard disco's entertainment (this is of course, on those rare episodes where Ethel Merman wasn't a guest), she shed her glasses and Dress for Success garb and scantily clad in sequins shook her big blond mane and her booty. Her guitar-shaped body was featured in one album cover, where, nude, she was perfectly "clothed" by her Spanish guitar, held close to her chest.
In the late 1970s, I was a child visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras and both my dad and I were super bummed out when Charo had to cancel her appearance in the parade due to a chest cold. Fortunately, she resurfaced on The Surreal Life and the GEICO commercial and you can check out her fabulous website: http://www.charo.com . She is still producing records, by the way.
And I am NOT kidding about Ethel Merman, to wit:
However, possibly the GREATEST moment in the Love Boat's history is the Andy Warhol cameo, which for me had been the Holy Grail of TV watching and thanks to you tube and google, here it is!!!!!