Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Julie Mendez in "On the Buses" (1970)

This is not safe for work. In fact, it's just not safe. Let's acknowledge the dire truth: it's AWFUL, laden as it is with sexism, racism, classism, xenophobia and polyester. BUT it does also have Julie Mendez and her snake Lulu! Remember them?

On the Buses was an English 'comedy' that ran from 1969 to 1973 - not exactly glory years for the on-screen depiction of anyone who wasn't a white, heterosexual male, it must be said. A US-version of the show, Lotsa Luck, ran on NBC from 1973 to 1974, so if you're from the States this might look faintly familiar to you. This was a whole new world of "What the hell?" to me, though.

If you're going to watch this episode, do it soon because I bet you anything these clips will disappear due to user infringement before long.

Although I'm aware I often let this blog go off on a Quixotic quest to document the careers of little-remembered female bit-players from days of yore, may I just say that, when Stan and Jack are being all leery, Julie's face (at 4.06) is such a picture of perfect sadness that to me it completely pulls the rug out from underneath all the laddish, sexist, racist "humour" and conveys a real human experiencing real feelings. Good job, Julie!

Not so much of a good job? Her dance costume and those regrettable pelvic thrusts. Proof, if ever it were needed, that "vintage" does not always equal glamorous and flattering:

And here's Part 2, in which Lulu steals the show:

And to think, the English once had an empire!


  1. Her name is Fatima, she "belly dances" with a snake... but she's Indian? *face palm* they really had no clue did they? But I did like how her costume looked like it was covered in big gold bells! I may have to try that.

    It's funny to hear these Brits try to pronounce Hindi!

  2. Hi Dima! Ohhh ... there is SO MUCH wrong here that I couldn't bring myself to cover in the post - the way she swings the snake around like that, or the "Phwoar!" comments during her dance ... ai yai yai. Although apparently the 'inter-racial' dating was quite groundbreaking for the time (even though Julie is so obviously white!).

    I liked her costume right up until she removed the skirt. Blingin' undies over harem pants? ?? But I agree about the bells - a really cool alternative to coins.

  3. she Unfortunately passed away in 2013.

  4. Very acceptable at the time,and repeats are still shown,because it's funny.

    1. Still funny today though the PC brigade will have a field day.

  5. She also appeared in the Vincent Price film "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971) in which she performs the same snake dance, wearing the same costume, in a 1920s stag film being watched by a character played by Terry Thomas.


  7. Still funny today but the PC brigade will have a field day.