Richard Simmons: Farewell to Fat
Frizzy-haired fitness guru Richard Simmons often chooses interesting locales for his infomercials: one was set aboard a cruise ship, another at the Apollo Cafe in Harlem. The Farewell To Fat infomercial, however, takes place in a shopping mall—the Silver City Galleria near Boston, to be exact. As if suburban shopping malls weren’t tacky enough in themselves, Richard Simmons has to show up, prancing around on stage and attracting thousands of his cellulite-ridden, Oprah-watching, National Enquirer-reading fans to come gawk at him. “I’ve been going to shopping malls since I was on General Hospital,” Richard tells his audience. We see shots of his appearances at various malls from coast to coast and learn that this is all part of Richard’s Farewell To Fat Success Celebration “tour.”
The point of all these appearances, in addition to providing good infomercial fodder, is to promote Richard’s Farewell to Fat system, which is based on a regime of “Tonin’ + Sweatin'”. The Sweatin’ part is handled by the videotape “Disco Sweat,” featuring “music specially mastered by Michael Sembello, who scored Flashdance” and Richard with his acolytes dancing to such 1970s schlockbusters as “Disco Inferno” and “Shake Your Booty.” For the Tonin’, Richard Simmons offers his “Toning Cords”—which look like something out of a B&D catalog but which Richard insists he invented himself.
Although this exercise system interests mostly women, Richard Simmons informs his audience that for fat men “it’s a tough world, too.” One M.D. relates his torment at having to call ahead to the operating room to make sure they had 2X OR greens ready for “the fat doctor.” To encourage males to get with the program, Richard cries out, “I thought I’d bring some men up here to shake their booties. Would you like that?” A series of shots then show bunches of middle-aged men awkwardly lunging their limbs around in hapless efforts to follow Richard’s routine.
But hopelessly uncoordinated men aren’t the only ones who join him onstage. Throughout the program, individuals appear to tell their stories of amazing weight loss achieved with Richard’s help. In his flimsy tank top and trademark striped shorts riding up his butt crack, Richard Simmons invites up overweight people who promise they’ll start using Farewell to Fat. As he tries to encourage them, one lady bursts into tears. “What’s wrong? Come here,” calls out Richard, all caring and sensitivity.
The woman, named Joanie, blubbers that her husband died at Christmas and that she’s been eating ever since and that “this is my last chance.”
Richard Simmons tells her, “We’re all here to help you,” and then looks toward the crowd and says, “We’re all here to help her, aren’t we?”—thereby committing a mall-full of people who never heard of this woman before and only showed up “to see that exercise guy from TV” and maybe pick up a guava smoothie while they were there.
The announcer says, “Did Joan start that day? Richard had to know because he could not forget her commitment. So he launched a search to find her.” Newspaper articles telling of Richard’s desire to contact “Joanie” appear, evidence of his massive effort to check up on her progress….Hey Richard, why didn’t you just get this woman’s phone number at the mall?! Perhaps after making his promise to “help” her, Richard decided that he didn’t need yet another overweight, over-sentimental, over-the-hill lady clinging to him for emotional support (and, really, who can blame him?). Yet when the producers saw the tape of “Joanie” at the mall, they must have known they were holding onto infomercial gold; they may well have insisted that Richard Simmons find her so that they could tape the follow-up with this undeniably “real person.” Of course Richard finds her and she, of course, lost 32lbs on Farewell to Fat.
The Farewell to Fat system that Joanie and all those others in this infomercial claim gave them such great results came after Richard’s “Deal-a-Meal” program and before his recent “Move, Groove & Lose.” But if all these programs work as wonderfully as promised, then why does Richard Simmons have to peddle an entirely new weight loss system every two years??
Richard Simmons: The Search for Joanie
Richard Simmons had to launch a media campaign to find a woman named Joaniebecause Richard couldn't be bothered to get her phone number at the time he promised to 'help' her in front of the cameras.
Richard Gets Men to Shake Their Booties
A long time fantasy for Richard Simmons comes true when he is surrounded by men who "shake their booties." Also, the "Fat Doctor" talks about his emotional pain.
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Watch Richard Simmons's hilarious appearance on the TV improv show.