Raquel Welch was—and still is—one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. I had a crush on her since I was a boy and always enjoyed watching her films—even if most were flops—just to see her move across the screen. She had so much sex appeal that it oozed from her pores. She was dripping with it.
During one brief stretch in the mid-90s, she was coming to Trattoria Dell’Arte a lot as she was staying nearby, and my childhood fantasy of one day meeting her became a reality. The first time I encountered her was when she was sitting at the bar with her daughter, Tahnee, who was equally ravishing, and I noticed her instantly from the corner of my eye as I entered the pantry station next to it. I did a double-take, which she had noticed, and I saw her break into a big smile. So, I took that ice-breaking moment to approach her.
When I approached, I said, ”Welcome, Raquel! What brings you to Dell’Arte?” She said, “I’m staying up the street, and my friends recommended this place. I hear the food is really delicious.” Then she introduced her daughter and said, “This is my daughter, Tahnee.” I extended my arm and gave her a handshake. Then, stupidly in retrospect, I asked, “Where’s André?”
André Weinfeld, a French film producer, was her husband of 10 years, who I always felt had encroached on my turf by hooking up with the woman I had dreamed of marrying one day. So he had always been on my shit list. Plus, I found him odd-looking and always wondered what she saw in him. Foolishly, I assumed he was probably talented below the waist, and that may have been why she married him. But they had divorced in 1990. So he was long out of the picture, unbeknownst to me. In any case, Raquel handled my question with great aplomb and said, “Oh, André’s around. Just not here.” With that, we became fast buddies.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, Raquel (born Jo Raquel Tejada) had Latin roots. She was born in Chicago to a Bolivian father and an American mother, which may explain her sultry and exotic good looks. Whatever it was, she was working those assets.
Ranked by several magazines as one of the sexiest stars of all time, including Playboy, I looked forward to seeing Raquel on her frequent visits to the restaurant. How could anyone not? Her smile alone could light up the darkest of souls. She’d call me when she needed a reservation, and for her, I’d move mountains to get her a table, even at peak times. But on some occasions when she’d arrive with a date, I wasn’t too pleased. She was my girl, and no one else’s!
I enjoyed those moments with Raquel, however brief. And Raquel, if you’re out there listening, I want you to know that I’m still in love with you.
Former restauranteur, musician, concert promoter, producer, publisher, manager, and impresario, Charles Carlini has synthesized these roles to become a dynamic force in the music industry–noted for his ability to bring diverse talent together to create innovative concerts and recordings that reach and move music-lovers everywhere.