The Women Who Loved Elvis

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Raquel Welch, actress

Roustabout in 1964 was my very first film in Hollywood. I was a bit player in the opening moments. Like many adolescents of the '50s, I had been completely gaga over Elvis. I saw him live in San Diego in one of his early shows. It was my first rock 'n' roll music concert ever. That was the first time that I ever conjured up what a sexy guy could be.

But when I saw him on the set of Roustabout, I was a little bit taken aback because something had changed about him. It seemed like he was more packaged. His clothes were not the same, his hair was obviously dyed now, and it was all sprayed into place. It was a little shocking to me because it was a whitewashed, cleaned-up Elvis. They took all the sex out of him!

He had these buddies, this group of guys that hung out with him, and you had to go through them to get to him. There was no such thing as walking up to Elvis on a set. At one point, one of his guys came over and said, "Elvis is having a little party at the house, and if you'd like to come up...." And I thought, What? I wasn't sure if the invitation was from Elvis or from them, using Elvis. I had had a very strict upbringing, and I didn't like the setup, so I didn't go. I had a feeling that Elvis related so much more to men than women. I think he certainly liked women, but I just don't think he knew how to have a real relationship with one. He was a guy's guy.

Years later, about 1972, I had a contract to perform at the Las Vegas Hilton, and lo and behold, Elvis came in right after me. At his show he was dressed all in white, with bellbottoms with a little gold slit on the side, and a lot of jewelry and brocade coming down on his jacket and a high-neck collar. He looked almost like Liberace. I went to his dressing room, and he was very sweet, very nice, and he showed me all his jewelry. But he didn't seem to be really happy in his eyes.

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