(more than a) sex icon

Guitar Passion (Universal Wave)

By Keith Henry Brown

In my preadolescence back in the '60s, I had three sexual obsessions that I can vividly remember: One, that scantily clad prehistoric chick "Nova" who ran around with Charlton Heston in "Planet of The Apes," two, Lt. Uhura of Star Trek in that far out micro-skirt of hers, and finally and most impressively (to me) was the unforgettable sight of Charo, the blonde Hispanic "coochie, coochie" girl who had the most insanely voluptuous body this side of Dolly Parton. I'd catch her on Ed Sullivan, jiggling with an unbridled fervor such as the world had never seen.

Over the years, I picked up scraps of information: She's fluent in three languages (French , Japanese, and Spanish; she 's a fine singer and composer; a superb guitarist (she studied with Andres Segovia, one of the fathers of modern classical guitar). At least that's what I heard. So when I ran upon her site on the web advertising her album, Guitar Passion, I had to snap it up.

The liner notes are priceless. She writes: "My name is Charo. I was born in Murcia (Spain) where the beautiful sound of guitars flows with the winds all the time . . . ." Upon reading the cliché song titles, "Hot," "Fantasy," "Seduction," "Your Body Heat," I was expecting a real Las-Vegas-y type of sound, not that of a serious musician. But as it turns out, there's plenty of fine playing here saddled by too-slick synthesized production. The good news is that as a composer and player Charo does surprisingly well. On a couple of tunes, "Dreams Of Spain" and "Romance of Love" she really gets to show her chops. I played this disc for friends who know more about flamenco guitar playing than I, and was told she's an above average player, which is saying a lot for someone whose career highlights included appearances on "Love American Style" and "Fantasy Island."

Guitar Passion is Charo's first "serious" album. Her next reportedly "more fun" outing will be entitled Cuchi-Cuchi Fever. I'll be there.