Monday, November 23

20 years of the dance that turned Salma Hayek into an erotic myth: this is the story | ICON


Salma Hakey, in an ‘From Dusk Till’ moment.

When Salma Hayek’s performance ends, Quentin Tarantino (this time as an actor), with his mouth open, flops into his chair, ecstatic. You just ran a trailer over it. If the camera focused at that moment on the stalls, the majority of the spectators, men, women, homosexuals, heterosexuals … all would have the same reaction as Tarantino. What was that that just happened on stage? Simple: surely the most erotic four minutes in the history of modern commercial cinema. Or at least one of them. And that the protagonist, Salma Hayek, at that time with a healthy 29 years, was having a hard time just when filming.

The Mexican actress (born in Coatzacoalcos 49 years ago) has an atrocious phobia of snakes, although it is hard to believe watching her sexual dance with a python coiled in Open until dawn, the film directed by filmmaker Robert Rodríguez, which premiered in January 1996. Twenty years have passed since the scene that turned the actress into an erotic myth and marked her career forever, which has merit considering that it has played even Frida Kahlo.

They are the most erotic four minutes in the history of modern commercial cinema. And that, Salma Hayek, at that time with a healthy 29 years, was having a hard time just as she was filming

His panic over the reptile led him to initially reject the role of Satanic Pandemonium, but Quentin Tarantino, who in addition to acting was the screenwriter, had the audacity to lie to him by telling him that Madonna was about to accept the role. This data prompted Hayek to undergo two months of hypnosis treatment to prepare himself mentally and physically to face the snake.

Actually, it was clear to Tarantino that he loved Salma Hayek. He liked it so much when he saw her in Desperado (Robert Rodríguez, 1995) who changed the first version of the script. The sensual killer beast was called Blonde Death, but Salma was the complete opposite of a blonde. So he named the Satanic character Pandemonium, based on one of his favorite B movies, the Mexican The sexorcist. Satanic Pandemonnium (Gilberto Martínez Solares, 1975). For Juan Manuel Corral, director of the publishing house Parallel lines and author of the book Quentin Tarantino. Glorious bastard (Dolmen publishing house) the influences of the film range from the horror production company Hammer Y Kung Fu vs. the 7 Golden Vampires (Roy Ward Baker, 1974) to Sam Raimi, George A. Romero and the John Carpenter of Assault on the 13th district police station.

Joanna Cassidy in 'Blade runner' (1982), influence for Salma Hayek's dance.
Joanna Cassidy in ‘Blade runner’ (1982), influence for Salma Hayek’s dance.

Once her phobia of snakes was controlled, the actress awaited the director’s instructions. But Robert Rodríguez only gave one indication: curl up that three-and-a-half-meter yellow python and let the music carry you. Thus, without choreography or previous rehearsal. It was the same guideline that he gave to Jessica Alba for her also memorable dance cowgirl in Sin City (2005). That is why Salma Hayek describes the experience as “a ritual of spiritual communion between me and the serpent.” It is a way of seeing it. Another would be: a warm experience that aroused an unusual interest in our feet.

Quentin Tarantino is a confessed fetishist of female feet, as we could see in Pulp Fiction, Damn bastards O Kill Bill. In fact, Juan Manuel Corral remembers that the scene was written by Robert Rodríguez. “Rodríguez wanted to iron out his friend’s film affiliations. The initial script, written by Tarantino in its entirety, relied mostly on a conventional vampire story, and the Mexican decided to include a lot of homegrown material.”

The journalist Rita Abundancia, who writes a weekly column about sex in SModa, he has a theory about it: “Quentin Tarantino is not a guy interested in manual eroticism. He really cares about what turns him on, even if it’s crappy.” Tarantino may have found inspiration in cult classics like Snake Dancer (Dirk de Villiers, 1976), the mexicana Living death (Juan Ibáñez and Jack Hill, 1971) and of course Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). For Abundancia, the scene has clear erotic symbols: “The snake is a very phallic element. Furthermore, they choose a flesh-colored one, which is rubbed over its body, stimulating our collective erotic unconscious.”

“The snake is a very phallic element. In addition, they choose a flesh-colored one, which is rubbed over its body stimulating our collective erotic unconscious”

Abundance highlights the latent dominance throughout the dance. “Salma is elevated above her viewers and goes through several high points reminiscent of a sexual relationship.” In the composition of the scene are present the five elements that according to the Japanese and Hindu cultures and the classical tradition created, but also destroyed nature. Tarantino’s passion for all things oriental is known. “The earth is Salma’s body, the water is present in the tequila that she throws and it even reminds of ejaculation, the fire is part of the decoration, the air is represented by the movements that she makes with her hair and ether is that atmosphere so loaded and so stale of the cheap brothel in which you cannot breathe “, explains Abundancia

Eroticism in Tarantino’s cinema has been refined over time. According to Corral, “before this film, Tarantino was very rough in relation to the figure of women. Then he has included sequences that drink from Luis Buñuel, especially in what refers to that fetishism linked to women’s feet. Finally, , Tarantino revisited a sub-plot of Japanese erotic cinema called Pinky Violence, what plasma in the diptych Kill Bill with great rigor; thus, the character of Uma Thurman meets the characteristics of the libidinous myths of this cinema, such as Meiko Kaji or Reiko Ike “.

Video of the entire dance scene.

Music is also a fundamental part of the scene. The song is titled After dark, and is from the Californian band Tito y Tarántula. The musical specialist Xavi Sancho, reflects on this aspect until reaching an intrepid conclusion: “The song of Tito & Tarántula, a priori, it has everything to be the perfect musical accompaniment for the scene. It is about vampires, it has that borderline air and arrives played by a band of Robert Rodríguez’s colleagues, unknown to date and struggling on screen before what was their first option to achieve transcendence. In the end, also the last one. But in the same way that the film does not finish working because Tarantino leaves it in the hands of a friend, the scene does not reach perfection because the song, really, is not very good. In fact, if one sees this scene and that of Michael Madsen in Reservoir dogs, torturing and finishing a poor devil to the rhythm of Gerry Rafferty, he realizes that a razor and a bastard can be as or sexier than a hunk and a snake when the song is really brilliant. “

The funny thing is that Open till dawn It was a relative failure (it barely covered its budget of 18 million euros) because despite breathing a seductive attractive teenager, his violence was punished with a rating that prohibited entry to minors under 16 years of age. Two years before, Interview with the vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994) had indeed brought adolescent audiences to theaters and promoted Open till dawn made a reference to it: “Vampires. No interviews,” the trailer said.

Tarantino and Rodríguez saw a lot of 'Living Death' (1971) before doing 'Open until dawn'.
Tarantino and Rodríguez saw a lot of ‘Living Death’ (1971) before doing ‘Open until dawn’.

But nevertheless, Open till dawn It was a success in video stores and it has grown over the years, becoming a film that purists and the general public like. It has even given rise to a series titled the same as the movie that premiered in 2014 on the television channel founded by Robert Rodríguez, El Rey Network, and which has just been renewed for a third season. The series recovers all the characters of the film expanding the Aztec mythology of the creatures and the relationship between humans. In the series, Mexican actress Eiza González pay homage to dance with the help of digital effects.

Even Britney Spears was inspired by Hayek’s dance in a performance for the MTV awards 2001. The song is called I’m a slave 4 you, but in the performance the real slave is the poor snake, whom Spears made dizzy as she wiggled unapologetically for it. Then Britney married and had two children, but when her offspring, Hayden and Preston Federline-Spears, grow up and see Open till dawn (If you haven’t seen it already), we’re sure the adorably irresponsible Britney will tell you: “Bah, that’s nothing. Look up Mom’s performance on YouTube.”

But if there is something that makes that dance memorable, it is that it launched Salma Hayek. She would be the first model actress bent on squandering the conventions of the-girls-in-hollywood-are-her-body and shoot projects that she deemed necessary (such as her role as Frida Kahlo in Frida, for which he chose the Oscar in 2003) and fight for social causes. In her case, the presence of Latinos in Hollywood or feminism. In 2013 he co-founded, together with Beyoncé, a project llamado Chime for Change destined to fight for the rights of women around the world and in November was still collecting awards for his work.

And since Mother Nature is sometimes vindictive, in 2010 something happened to the actress who closes the circle. During an interview for the television show Extra, a snake broke without really knowing where it came from. Hayek’s terrified reaction was hilarious and the whole world remembered how the actress’s fate is inevitably linked to reptiles.

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