Frown eyed and bedraggled, Big Gay Horror Fan often looks at himself in the mirror upon waking and howls (to himself) “WHO are YOU?!?”
Likewise, in the late 70’s, American television audiences gazed at the gorgeous creature, presented as a major star, promoting V-O5 hair products and wondered “WHO is SHE?”
She was Rula Lenska, a former Polish countess who had come to a bit of public awareness through her role of “Q” in the British series Rock Follies (and it’s follow-up Rock Follies of 77). While Rock Follies (which was shown on BBC America) and it’s follow-up (which was not) was a successful blend of music, social commentary and real life comedy – in America, Lenska found herself becoming famous merely because people assumed she was famous – when she wasn’t being parodied on the Tonight Show or Saturday Night Live, that is.
With her regal presence, throbbing silken voice and admittedly luxurious head of hair, Lenska was not to be messed with, though, as she proves with her fun and aggressive performance in a 1976 parody of a different sort, Queen Kong.
Supposedly rushed into production to tie-in with Dino De Laurentiis’ major mid-70’s King Kong reboot, this UK production barely saw the light of day due to Laurentiis’ hostile legal actions. A feminist parody retelling of the original King Kong, Queen Kong finds genre regular Robin Askwith (Tower of Evil, The Flesh and Blood Show, Horror Hospital) playing the young Ray Fay (get it?!!) who is kidnapped by the besotted title character. This gigantic ape’s rampage culminates on top of Big Ben, though and she is ultimately saved when Askwith informs a group of feminists that she is being attacked not because she is a beast, but because she is a woman.
This silly monster re-imagining is very much in the style of the popular British Carry On series and Lenska excels, in the Robert Armstrong role, selling the piece’s ridiculousness with a sure wit and steely heart. It is, also fun to note that this parody (which includes takes on The Exorcist, Jaws, and – gulp – Ronald Reagan) was filmed 24 years before Scary Movie and the sequence in which it takes the piss out of the Airport series (featuring Taste the Blood of Dracula’s Linda Hayden in the Helen Reddy role) was done 4 years before Airplane! saw the light of day. Hammer honey Valerie Leon (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb), also, makes a bikini clad appearance, here, as one of the supple jungle warriors whom drags Askwith to his initial meeting with the she-beast.
Here, is a bit of Queen Kong to nibble on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlHxg2UzCag
While some of Lenska’s wavy selling expertise can be viewed, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqUxUC8L0aU&feature=related
Rock Follies is, also, worth tracking down. The music was composed by Andy Mackay of Roxy Music and Lenska proves herself to be the heart of the series with her gentle, understanding take on the group member whom feels the heartlessness of the professional music industry the most fervently. Interestingly, this provocative show also presented homosexuals in an understanding, multi-faceted light twenty some years before Will ever spoke the name of Grace. (Tim Curry, also, makes an entertaining appearance as an excessive UK version of Bruce Springsteen in the first episode of Rock Follies of 77.)
Be sure to check back each Monday as Big Gay Horror Fan highlights the grand dames of the slit throat set. And keep up-to-date at his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/BigGayHorrorFan), as well!
Until next time –
SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!