This wasn’t one of the things listed on the Seven Things meme from yesterday, but to continue on with sharing facts of a random or weird nature, Miss Mussel feels compelled to reveal that she is a fan of Lawrence Welk. While not rabid enough to actually go to Branson and see everyone reliving the old days mind you, she does know when the show airs on PBS.
Since she is at least 40 years younger than the target demographic, a lot of thought has been channeled into why this super cheesy music is appealing. What surfaced was the outrageous costumes and the fact that the musicians were actually really good.
Of special interest was the cellist, the only woman in the band. She could have been miming her part for all the times she was actually heard and each week she looked so bored, I imagined she was calculating the pros and cons of an overdose. Also, it was interesting to see how the costume people would interpret “fluorescent peach tuxedo” into a chiffon-addled number just for her.
Here are a couple great clips illustrating an important aspect of Welk’s character and aesthetic.
A rather quaint paternalism (in retrospect, at least) was de rigeur on the Welk set. Without breaking into some tired feminist theory, it is enough to say that women on the Welk show were pretty but chaste and treated, on air at least, like they were his own teenaged daughters. And like any dad, he had a certain knack for doing mortally embarrassing things in the name of fun.
Tied in with this paternalistic outlook was a total aversion of anything that could remotely be described as sexual. In 1959 Welk fired Champagne Lady Alice Lon on air when she crossed her legs on a desk, something he considered to be ‘cheesecake’ behaviour. It is tempting to write this off to the social mores of the time but the truth is, after that show, thousands of letter came into ABC demanding Lon be rehired. In this video, a girl from the audience is dancing with Welk, something he did on every show. Welk pulls the plug when she tries to get busy with him, but karma gets its own back nearer to the end of the segment.
Any other closet Welkers out there? Let’s hear your thoughts.