Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Farrah Fawcett - Memories of a Classic 70s Poster

Angel's Iconic Poster is Target of Teen Caper

Farrah Fawcett, my favorite 70s icon, would have celebrated her 65th Birthday on February 2. It's difficult to imagine the longhaired starlet would be eligible for Medicare.
To view her beauty today, one need only scan the Internet. A quick search on Time's web site will reveal pictures of Farrah in a bathing suit, Farrah in an evening gown, Farrah in a tank top. Where was Yahoo! 35 years ago?
The Poster
In the 70s, a poster of Farrah captured the imagination of millions. More difficult to obtain than clicking a mouse, it was the one classic 70s pinup.

If you were around during the "Charlie's Angels" heyday, you probably remember the poster.
If you were a sex-starved, hormone imbalanced, 14-year-old boy, you were obsessed with the poster.
Farrah, if you recall, was wearing a one-piece bathing suit and sitting with her knee tilted at a 45-degree angle. Her mane was perfectly teased and coiffed, a look that carried over well into the 80s. Her best feature by far was her teeth, pearly and big. The envy of every person who ever wore braces or purchased dental whitening cream.
Sales of the poster were stellar - 12 million units sold. According to The Washington Times , it became the best selling poster of all time and eventually made it into the Smithsonian.
And it could be seen everywhere: local pubs, garages and teenagers' rooms. If space were available at the Louvre, I'm sure the "Farrah" would have attracted more visitors than Leonardo's classic model.
As boys drooled endlessly over the poster, girls spent hours each morning with a brush, curling iron and hair dryer emulating the look. Some successfully duplicated the style, while others ended up with third degree burns or a frizzy disaster.
The Plot
The poster so impacted me and my best friend Jim, we decided to obtain it using whatever means possible. After pooling our lifetime financial resources, we had enough coins for two games of Pac Man at the mall. We played two games at the mall.
The next option was somewhat risky. I asked my mom if I could have $10 to register for Little League. After reminding me I had spent last year's fee on bubble gum cigars, my request was denied.
Our third choice - actually earning the money and buying the poster - was voted down by an overwhelming majority. We had no other options. Before you could say "shoplifting is a crime, not an adventure" Jim and I were standing at the back of our local record store.
The Heist
The posters were displayed on moveable hinges. Flipping through the selections revealed important artworks, such as a live still of the rock group KISS, puppies resting in daisies and a man sitting on a toilet.
Beneath the rack, posters were individually tube-rolled in plastic. Numbers from the displayed posters corresponded with the number on the tubes.
Bravely I snapped into action.
"Jim," I said, " I'll distract the sales guy, you jam the poster in your pants."
For the next five minutes, the sales associate sifted through the bin, looking for an old Pete Fountain record. Jim folded the tube in half and then in half again. After a few more folds, the poster was in place and we made a hurried, and for Jim, uncomfortable exit.
The car ride home seemed like an eternity. We were afraid to remove the stolen article, as a police officer would surely pull us over and find the contraband. Neither of us wanted to serve jail time for an illegal poster possession charge.
To soothe our nerves, we turned up the radio and swayed to K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
The Reveal
Back at home the excitement began to build. The poster appeared to be somewhat intact. The plastic was removed and we stood proudly above our prize.
"Let's see it!" I screamed.
Our faces beamed as if we were unrolling a treasure map.
Inch by inch, the image was revealed. Finally we stared open mouthed at the picture - a huge pained face of Gene Simmons and KISS.
The Aftermath
I never did get the poster after the incident. My nerves were frail and I thought it an inappropriate addition to my Christmas list. Jim went back to the store several times, but the manager hovered over him like a cranky prison warden.
Farrah, as you know did not go on to huge box office success. She did, however, make a few respectable television movies, one of which prompted me to buy a pair of fire retardant pajamas.
Now, decades later, access to Farrah is immediate and comprehensive. On my command, pictures of the popular pinup zoom through cyberspace into my home. Bulky posters have gone the way of vinyl albums and have been replaced by digital images.
I can hardly wait for the new virtual reality technology.

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