Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 1967

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hail Hail Heather Graham


I just go back from Heather Graham's 41st birthday bash (1) and what better time to celebrate her unnerving sexuality? She's 41!? You'd never guess it.

I remember well Graham's big crash into A-list films in the late 1990's: first as the sweet girl who saves future IRON MAN-director Jon Favreau from chickless despair in SWINGERS (1996)--her presence a reminder that even the most self-defeating hep cats were occasionally rewarded with a nice, doesn't-know-she's-hot kind of gal; second as the shockingly uninhibited porn star Rollergirl in BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997); third as the lass who beats out Natasha Gregson Wagner for the dubious prize of Robert Downey Jr. in TWO GIRLS AND A GUY (1997). By the time she staggered into AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (1999), as a spy who shags Mike Meyers' disgusting over-latex fat-suited Scotsman badguy, 'Fat Bastard.', Graham's warm-hearted, 'sexually uninhibited like she lived in Europe for a year' kind of nerd fantasy girl persona was locked in. It was like doesn't this poor nymphomaniac persona ever get to, like, shag someone other than doofuses? (Doofi?)

 I saw SHAGGED in the theater during the hot summer of 1999, when my AC was out, and my gratitude for the coolness of the 86th and 3rd Loew's was offset by the disturbing sight of Graham's gorgeous body in bed with Meyers' Bastard, his fat fingers and bloated hair prosthetic chest greasy from chowing on a whole roast chicken while she cuddled up to him. Some things you never forget, and the sight of sweet doe-eyed hottie Graham going to such lengths for her job made me shudder in sympathy for young actresses everywhere.

From there Graham did other things of a similar bent, like hosting SNL, where she played a babysitter who becomes uncomfortably sidelined in a bitter post-menage a trois argument with the parents. The Heather impact by then was undeniable: those wide eyes, that horrifically voluptuous body, that golden hair; she was almost too sexy in her ability to be unconscious of being too sexy. It seemed like just the kind of thing hobbit-handed Chris Parnell was up to when a girl guest was too hot to think of any other way. It was if the lost little girl guilelessness of Marilyn Monroe was wedded to a smart, concerned, awake, lonesome therapist.


Hers is the kind of allure that perfectly embodies Lacan's objet petit a: men fantasize about her kind of 'availability' only to run from it when it suddenly makes itself so immediately, alarmingly tangible. I can imagine her (meaning her screen 'persona') coming onto me at a party and me stammering some lame excuse and running away... watching in shame as she goes home with some other guy more foul-mouthed and aggressive. That, alone, makes her awesome. She proves 95% of men are all talk. We'd rather be on the chain and barking than off it and have to put up or shut up. She wins the dare.

Pornography is probably the most clear example of the kind of image-based delusion her sexiness destroys: in it, all the enjoyment is enacted onscreen for the viewer, who presumably fantasizes themselves into the action, but does he (or she)? Heather Graham reminds us that the reason we turn to this vicarious pleasure is more than our shyness, laziness, ugliness, reticence, cheapness, keeping us from living life like an orgy; our whole identity is split between the imaginary and the real -- we fantasize via the screen and when our fantasy comes true, sans screen, we run back to the shelter of the image. With Heather Graham, we better run fast, as she moves like a serpent zipper.

Lacan writes about the impossibility of desire, and Heather Graham is its fullest expression. She makes us weep with longing and trepidation, with paternal worry and sullen virgin teen resentment. Her career needs to flourish now that she's in her 40s! Take that sexuality and finesse it, Heather Graham! You are the sunshine of '69. Free love still blazes in your saucer eyes. More's the pity for the world, not you, if all they can do is run from the golden blessings you bestow.

(more cool photos and celebration at Neil Fulwood's Agitation of the Mind here)


(1): I never said she was there... or even knew about it.

9 comments:

  1. You just reminded me how much in love I used to be with her. She always stood out. Great blog.

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  2. Thanks for the link, Erich.

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  3. I dunno... she kinda gives me the creeps. Her forehead's huge and her eyes look like they're gonna roll right out of their sockets. But, hey: whatever turns you on.

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  4. Hey, FH, that's what I mean! She's creepy sexy... and Neil, you're welcome

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  5. Weird, I just re-watched Boogie Nights last weekend, loved that scene where shes like "are you my mom?" as hse snorts a couple of lines of cocaine. Some great acting right there.

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  6. jervaise brooke hamster04 August, 2013

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  7. willy jerk-off04 August, 2013

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  8. teddy crescendo04 August, 2013

    ALL the Austin Powers movies are totally unwatchable garbage.

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