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Raquel Welch talks Elvis, Sex, and Heartbreak Hotel

By Marc Myers
Source: wsj.com
October 30, 2013 - 8:08:44 PM

How a 'smoldering' 1956 performance by Elvis hypnotized a budding sex symbol

Raquel Welch : I first saw Elvis Presley in concert in 1956, when I was 15 years old. He played the San Diego Arena in the spring, and my family lived in nearby La Jolla. Heartbreak Hotel was already a radio hit, and I couldn't get enough of it. Hearing that song was a real turning point for me as a teenager. When I saw him in action, he was mesmerizing. I screamed myself silly.

Something about his voice on that song made me think, 'This must be what sex is all about'. My girlfriends and I didn't have a lot of experience in that department, but you just knew Elvis had it all. At the concert, Elvis was dressed in a pair of loose trousers, loafers, a shirt and open jacket. When he moved, he was smoldering. His hair fell over his eyes, his tone was sensual and he put a lot of body into it. His delivery on Heartbreak Hotel was loaded with insinuation. The song was also in a minor key, which always triggered a sexy reaction in me.

But it was his voice on the chorus [sings to illustrate] - 'You make me so lonely bay-bee / I get so lonely / I get so lonely I could die'. When he slipped in those low-register Elvis-isms - you know, the huh-huh thing - it came from his body, not from his head. He had that emotional, erotic intensity that was impossible to resist.

I never imagined when I got to Hollywood in 1964 that my first job would be in an Elvis movie. In 'Roustabout', I was a day player with one line. I met Elvis briefly on the set, but his hair was sprayed, he was wearing stiff pants and a wimpy windbreaker. I was so disappointed. He wasn't the same guy I saw in concert.

After the shoot, one of his buddies came over and said, 'Elvis is having a party at his house. He thought you might like to come by and have some fun'. I wondered, 'Why couldn't he ask me himself?' I didn't go.

Whenever I hear Heartbreak Hotel now, it takes me back. It reminds me of what a force Elvis was. He still is today. Sometimes I get misty-eyed over the whole thing.

Raquel Welch is the author of 'Beyond the Cleavage' (Weinstein Books). She spoke with reporter Marc Myers.

Elvis Presley : Arena : San Diego : April 5, 1956
Elvis Presley : Arena : San Diego : April 5, 1956.

Articles about Elvis Presley Raquel Welch talks about Elvis and Roustabout
Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis Presley : Arena : San Diego : April 5, 1956


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