Dolly, indeed. "I'm no Farrah Fawcett," says Dolly Parton, her blond hair cascading over her shoulders, her red, red lips grinning wide, her impressive chest heaving.
The country music superstar - half a million copies of her last LP sold - is referring to a new poster that shows her in a revealing little Daisy Mae outfit. The poster is about to enter into competition with Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs in plastering the walls of male America.
"I know people are talking about me as a new sex symbol," the 32-year-old singer says "I think I'm more like a cartoon character, this big hair flapping all over, big hips, big bosom. It's a gimmick. I don't want the responsibility of being a sex symbol. I'm too lazy to stay on a strict diet."
In the past year, after 22 years on the road and six years of recording, Dolly Parton has become one of America's most popular country entertainers with a difinite crossover appeal to pop fans. Her last album, "Here You Come Again," was her first to gain an audience broader than the hard-core country fans; at the same time, she made regular appearances on the Johnny Carson show, ostensibly to promote the record.
Whether the record sold so well because of the Carson appearances (Parton's thinking) or Carson had her on because the record was selling so well (an NBC spokesman's theory), one thing is certain; Parton has become an anatomical standard in American culture, a sure way, for instance, for Carson to get a laugh when the evening is dragging.
If the standard American comic's modus operandi is: When in doubt tell a sex joke. Parton has become a national inspiration, provoking lines like "And now, here they are, Dolly Parton." She's the 70s' answer to Jayne Mansfield.
"I don't really feel about it one way or the other," says Parton, who was in Winchester, Va., Saturday performing at the Apple Blossom festival. She treads a fine line between acting the role of the Dumb Blond (the title of the first track on her first album released in August 1972) and having one of the shrewdest business senses in country music.
"It's always just amused me, the way men responded to me. I was washing some dirty clothes in the laundromat in Nashville 12 years ago and I walked outside and this guy liked what he saw and two years later I was married to him. So I'm not complaining. They made pictures of ne in a little bunny outfit for the cover of the October Playboy and I just thought it was a real cute idea."
Real cute. She says it like she could still be in high school, just waiting for some guy to call up and ask for a Saturday night date, and she'd pick up the phone, and pause for a long time while her huge eyelashes batted - and at exactly the right time she'd say, "Yes, that'd be real cute."
That's Dolly's dolly exterior. Inside there's this tough business manner all mixed up with childlike sincerity.
"I do want so much to be a superstar," says the woman Rolling Stone magazine called a cross between Mae West and Norman Vincent Peale. "You can be a No. 1 country star and you're still not selling lots of records. People used to think I was making millions of dollars; I was making thousands. But now, my dream in life is to be successful at the movies."
Although she admits she rarely goes to the movies (and, in the reading department, sticks to self-help and religious books), Parton has just been signed by 20th Century-Fox for a three-picture deal.
"I don't know what they'll have me doing," she says. "They say they're looking around for the right script."
If Parton's script for her career appears glowing right now, it has been no easy haul from the days of singing in her "preaching grandaddy's" church back in Sevierville, Tenn. One of 12 children, she became a radio personality at 10 and was later a partner of country star Porter Wagoner. Since going solo she spends long stretches on the road, all but 12 weeks last year, then returns to the Nashville home she keeps with her construction contractor husband - the same man who saw her walking out of the laundromat a dozen years ago.
As for the future, she is in the process of finishing a new album of her own, called "Sure Thing," as well as a top-secret recording project with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, two pop singers who consider themselves Parton emulators. It is obvious that Parton is impressed with Ronstadt's phenomenal ability to present country music to huge pop audiences, and she wants part of the action.
"I don't want to be left behind," she says. "I always say I was not influenced by the two of them, but I am inspired. I'd like to appeal to a younger audience. I want to be faithful to the people who supported me all these years, but attracting in young audience is an important business move."
To that end, Parton is touring this month with Andrew Gold, a strong draw for the young pop audience, and her last two albums were much more pop than country oriented. A far cry, is some ways, from that first song.
Just because I'm blond doesn't mean I'm dumb Because I'm dumb this dumb blond ain't nobody's fool
"There's some women in country music who don't know how to do anything but sing," says Dolly Parton. "Me, I'm just so rambunctious and energetic I don't know what I'll do next."