Richard Simmons HOPE
An icon during the Golden Age of Infomercials in the 80s and 90s, flamboyant fitness guru and avid Barbie doll collector Richard Simmons returns with Project HOPE (www.RichardSimmonsHOPE.com), his first infomercial in nearly a dozen years. It feels like one of those movies that dredge up an aging star to reprise his most famous role, think Rocky Balboa or A Good Day to Die Hard or Life with Lucy. Richard Simmons never declares, “I’m gettin’ too old for this sh*t!” during the course of the Project HOPE infomercial, but he probably should have…
In spite of the diligent efforts of an experienced crew of makeup, hair and wardrobe professionals, the 63-year-old Richard Simmons looks like a 63-year-old. His increasingly wispy afro has clearly been dyed, and the amount of plaster on his face leaves the impression that you are watching an embalmer’s screen test. He appears to be wearing nylons on his “bare” legs, no doubt to cover an intricate web of varicose veins. During one of the workout segments, even the 300 pound fatties behind him are able to lift their legs higher than he can. (At one point the infomercial shows us the halting workout of a 90-year-old woman in a desperate attempt to make Richard look spry by comparison.) The Project HOPE infomercial shatters any hope that Simmons would start dressing in a manner befitting his age. The short shorts and sparkly tank tops are back and flashier than ever, which will no doubt further endear him to the Quacker Factory crowd:
The most outlandish of these shirts features a guitar whose bulbous base starts at Richard’s crotch and whose shaft extends up to his solar plexus:
At least it’s slightly more subtle than strapping on a medieval cod piece.
The guitar shirt may be the most awkward one on this infomercial, but the second most awkward isn’t worn by Richard at all:
Is that T-shirt available in different verbs?
Richard Simmons’s previous infomercials often featured creative locales and scenarios:
- Deal-a-Meal gave him the opportunity to travel the country in a powder blue 1957 Chevy convertible and ambush unsuspecting grocery shoppers by ramming into their shopping carts.
- In Farewell to Fat Richard appeared before hundreds of screaming fans at a suburban shopping mall where he promised to help a weeping woman before promptly losing her telephone number.
- Sweatin’ to Live took place on his annual “Cruise to Lose” in which fat people are punished for their obesity by being forced to spend their vacations with Richard Simmons.
- The Move, Groove & Lose infomercial, set in the Apollo Music Cafe in Harlem, let Richard fulfill his lifelong dream of dancing around with five beefy black men in tuxedos.
The infomercial for Project HOPE, on the other hand, is a fairly standard mix of interviews, demos, and testimonials. Yet this infomercial has one thing that is definitely unique.
The songs used in the workout videos indicate that Richard’s taste in music has been updated, but not improved, since his “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” days. The tunes include “Born this Way,” “Evacuate the Dance Floor” and “Need You Now.” But they also include “original songs written and sung by Richard himself.” Wisely, this infomercial includes only 3 seconds of one of these songs. It is titled “Let It Slide,” which sounds like an earnest plea for someone to use more lubricant.
Don’t miss the upcoming album in which Richard Simmons performs duets with other equally accomplished singers such as William Shatner, Rebecca Black, Leonard Nimoy, and William Hung.