Just Shut Up and Look Beautiful!


By Maria Bustillos

At Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs, Carol Channing and Justin Vivian Bond strike a pose.

From left: Daniel Nardicio, Carol Channing, Justin Vivian Bond

“Well, naturally,” she said impishly, “they had decided that they would get the queen of sex appeal...” Here she paused, looking expectantly around at the audience, before finally adding, “Well, I’m waiting for you to say, ‘Well, you have a little sex appeal!’ ” — and the crowd went mad some more.

“I have to admit,” Channing said of Marilyn Monroe, who starred in the film, “she was adorable. But” — this to Bond — “adorable isn’t our racket, is it?”

“No,” said Bond. “No, it is not.”

“She says we’re doing great!” Bond exclaims to Channing as the cameras began to click in the desert air. “Just shut up and look beautiful!” They laugh together conspiratorially.

“We both have our ta-da hands!” says Channing.

“Oh, I see. Ta-daaaaa!”

Channing throws her arms out wide to be photographed, and it’s as if she were embracing the whole world and everybody in it. Her familiar pose is downright Proustian in its tenderness, its evocativeness. Anyone over the age of 35 or so must have seen this gesture a thousand times. (I was reminded of my favorite line of Bond’s bio: “I simply want to inhabit my very clear vision of myself.” Already I could sense that the affinity between these two went far beyond my first impression.)

The photographer shouts, “Can we get, like, a big mouth, Carol?”

“What does she want?” Channing asks.

“Big mouth, Carol. She wants you to do, like, a big-mouthed, open smile,” says Bond.

“Well, I was.”

Soon Channing was whisked over to her own house in a shocking pink golf cart, accompanied by Coco Chanel (her friend’s cockapoo), and that, too, was a sight to behold.