The Myth of Marisol in Twenty-First-Century Spanish Cultural Production

  • Katherine O. Stafford Lafayette College


On September 2, 1976, less than a year after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, the then newly established liberal weekly magazine Interviú published what soon became, and would remain, its most famous cover. On it appeared a nude photo of an all grown-up Marisol, the adored child star of sentimental comedies during the Franco era. The photo was meant to signal the erotically-charged, liberating mood of Spain’s transition to democracy. When the famous photo was used on the cover of the magazine’s last issue, in January of 2018, the editors took the opportunity to remind readers of the controversial cover and what it stood for at the time. As a nostalgic historical referent, the Interviú cover has had a role to play in recent Spanish popular cultural productions. This article takes issue with the magazine’s all too-quick equation between newly acquired political freedom and the right to publish photos of famous women in the nude. More specifically, this essay examines the Interviú cover of the nude Marisol as a “sign event” of immediate and lasting proportions. Viewed from a gendered perspective, the cover’s enduring cultural resonance reveals the persistence of sexist attitudes. The essay further argues Marisol’s evolution in the pub- lic eye reveals unsettling continuities between the Franco era and what comes after.

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