Oh, the Persistence of Early Sexual Imagery: The Power of Charlie’s Angels

When the schlocky ‘70s action series Charlie’s Angels debuted in 1976, I was a tender and impressionable boy of five.  I responded immediately to the show’s good-gals-always-win plots, whereby the three foxy angels (magnificently played originally by Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson, though Diane Ladd would replace Fawcett by season two), tackled crime with the force of specially trained super-agents and the style and panache of the most refined debutantes.  These hard-working ladies of law and order did triple duty: protecting Southern Californians from the dregs of society, providing incredible eye candy, and breaking down conventional gender stereotypes for one of the first times in television history.  Young as I was I had no conscious awareness of any larger societal theme, but as it turns out, those darned Angels have persevered in me while other wonder women have come and gone.  

During the show’s five year run, my interest grew larger and larger.  I was intrigued by the mysterious “Charlie,” the never-seen but richly-voiced proprietor of the Charles Townsend Agency, for whom the angels went to work after growing frustrated by their drab police desk jobs.  There was also Bosley, the angels’ liaison to Charlie, who didn’t often get into the thick of the action, but was always available to have a good chuckle after another plot was busted by the buxom threesome.  But mostly I was fascinated with those angels…how they managed to keep such perfect hair regardless of the situation, how they were able to perform incredible martial arts moves in high heels, and the way their derrieres looked in their tight-around-the-butt but flared at the ankle synthetic slacks.

When I was eight, I began to fantasize about the angels outside of their usual time slot.  Lying in bed, more nights than not, I would fall into a light trancelike state—that perfect spot between awake and asleep, and begin to think of the angels.  My imagination skipped nearly all details, presumably to devote all of its energy toward envisioning the gorgeous (and meaningfully, adult) women.  The three would start off in a featureless room, perhaps twenty feet deep away, standing shoulder to sexy shoulder.  In the fantasy I don’t even conceive of my physical self—I am not aware that I’m standing or sitting or leaning against a ledge—no, this is all happening at a level deeper than that, possibly in the subconscious.  All there is of me is an awareness that the girls can see me, and they like what they see.

They begin to glide toward me, hips swaying, rayon billowing, devious grins emerging.  Where is the fan that is blowing their hair into that delicious swirl?  Where is this all going?  As they approach, seemingly on cue, they begin to unbutton their silky blouses, remove lacey bras, seductively slip out of dress slacks, & remove their satiny panties. Three nude angels, one young boy.  And while Kate Jackson, as everyone knows, was the dog of the threesome, when she’s your number three, you don’t squabble.  That’s what you call an embarrassment of eight year old riches.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as my fantasy could then go—nudity.  I simply was too young and immature to understand the details of sex, the tricks, the taboos. That all clothes were off was obvious, but with no proper knowledge of the actual mechanics by which we humans engage in coitus, I was left mostly to my little Charlie’s Dream, which I’d force into my sleep process each and every night.

Beautiful were they.

Tingly was I.


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