Read Excerpt: 'Beyond the Cleavage' by Raquel Welch

In fact, it was soooo cold that the entire crew was bundled up in nice cozy parkas. Even the cameras froze. So they hung pots of hot coals un¬derneath the camera boxes, to keep the motors warm. But nobody seemed to care about my motor. Why didn't I have a parka? "Cave girls don't have parkas," I was told. Not surprisingly, I came down with a severe case of tonsillitis.

It was so not how I had pictured it. On the first day of shooting, I went straight up to the director, Don Chaffey, and said quite seriously, "Listen Don, I've been studying the script, and I was thinking . . ." He turned to me in amazement and said, "You were thinking? Don't." Then he said, "You see that rock over there?" I was all ears. "That's Rock A. When I call action, you start running all the way over to Rock B, which is over there. When you get about midway between the two, pretend you see a giant turtle coming over that hill. You scream . . . and we break for lunch. Got it?"

I got it all right. He was just the first in a long line of producers and directors who didn't give a rat's ass what I thought. For years I felt like the Rodney Dangerfield of sex symbols. I got no respect.

I'm glad those days are over. But I was wrong about the dinosaur movie; it wasn't a leap into obscurity. By the time we wrapped and I boarded a fiight for London, unbeknownst to me, my life was already changing. When I stepped off the plane in Heathrow Airport, I was greeted by a swarm of press and paparazzi. What was the deal? No one could be more surprised by this than I was! Suddenly, I had become famous! I had to pinch myself. Was it really happening? It was a once-in-a-lifetime break for me and my kids.

So Mommy became the reigning sex symbol of the swingin' '60s and '70s, at the height of the sexual revolution—with one hitch. A sex symbol in the Age of Flower Children didn't sit very well with the hard-line feminists of the time. They dismissed me as nothing more than a sex object. They didn't look beyond the poster image to see what I was made of. It felt like a slap, until I realized that official feminism had a political agenda that is not inclusive of all women. It's only for those who fit a criterion, which does not include a bikini. So be it.

I don't want to fall into the cliché of the protesting sex symbol, but I have to supply a context so you know who it is that's talking to you here. Although this book is not intended to be an autobiography, I feel the need to let you in on who is lurking behind the loincloth. It's me, Raquel: a woman not unlike you in many ways and singular in others. Like we all are. Hello there! Nice to meet you.

In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, my poster from One Million Years B.C. was one of a series of posters used to cover the escape tunnel Tim Robbins was digging. I was flattered when the director, Frank Darabont, asked permission to use my image to represent the passage of time from Rita Hayworth in the '40s to Marilyn Monroe in the '50s to Raquel Welch in the '60s.

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