Monday, October 3, 2011

Valley of the Barbie Dolls: Even Cowgirls Get The Blues Edition

One in a series of original Barbie Doll art pieces by Los Angeles artist, Bruce Zwinge, paying tribute to Hollywood sex symbols.
Barbie as Myra Breckinridge (Raquel Welch)
To capture that particular 70s allure of Raquel Welch as Myra Breckinridge, artist Bruce Zwinge not only had to break and reassemble the limbs of the original Barbie doll (allowing for the bent knee, elbow joints, and graceful wrist and finger articulation), but seriously had to amplify the hair and bosom. Barbie's original makeup was removed chemically to recreate Welch's very 70s dark-eyed, naturalistic lips, look. The miniature star-spangled, strapless bathing suit, a structural impossibility in real-life for a woman of Welch's dimensions (her hair covers the straps in the photo below) was manufactured by Zwinge as well.

Barbie as "Myra Breckinridge" is not only a tribute to the transsexual heroine of Gore Vidal's satirical 1968 novel, but to Raquel Welch, the actress who portrayed Myra in the 1970 film. The iconic star-spangled cowgirl used as the novel's cover art, and later recreated by Welch on the movie poster, is based on a famous 60s Sunset Boulevard billboard advertising the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. More info on that sign available here.

A recreation of the original billboard as it appears in the 1970 film "Myra Breckinridge"

The original Sahara Hotel billboard featured the showgirl cowgirl spinning on a silver dollar.
Located on the Sunset Blvd. Photo courtesy of Classic Las Vegas History Blog
Raquel Welch as Myra Breckinridge
...Of course, "Myra Breckinridge" co-star Mae West was not about to be upstaged.

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