BetteBack April 23, 1978: Body Language

Elyria Chronicle Telegram
April 23, 1978
Dr.,..Er…, Mr. Fast: Body language brings him fame

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“No,” twitches the bearded man in the turtleneck and loud check jacket, “it’s not Doctor Fast.” He clears his throat.

He makes eye contact. “It’s Mister Fast.”

But television talk-show hosts often call him “Doctor” “Yes … but I don’t use my doctorate.” The embarrassment deepens on the heels of questions about the degree. “Well… but” I don’t have … a … doctorate.”

The balding man squirming his way through the initial conversation is slowtalking Julius Fast, author of the million-copy best-seller, “Body Language,” and the just-released follow-up, “Body Language of Sex, Power and Aggression.”

Fast, a pre-med student who was graduated from New York University (’42) and went to become a writer, has worked as a bacteriologist and hematologist. He speaks disparagingly of the doctors who were once his colleagues.

“THEY HAVE our lives in their hands,” he says. “They have superpower. So we became worshipful. Medicine is a profession with life-or-death consequences. Doctors are often overly imbued with themselves.”

He’d rather dissect the gestures of the famous.

Jimmy Carter, he says, is finally learning when to smile and how to smile.

“Jimmy used to say something terribly devastating and smile. Then he’d say something funny and smile that very same smile. Now he smiles the right smile. For a long time, his smiles used to be bumbling.”

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger frequently uses one-handed gestures. That specific language suggests Kissinger is holding something back, that he is projecting only ‘half the information at his fingertips.

“THE QUESTION,” admits Fast, “is whether or not Henry Kissinger is a secretive man. Actually, he is only carrying out his cultural identity. The one-handed gesture is quite common for Jewish Europeans.”

Bella Abzug’s hats are legendary. So is her abrasive, strident personality.

“Bella’s hats,” says Fast, “are in oddity, a put-on, a planned recognition factor. The real key to Bella’s personality is her husband’s attitude. When he’s in the same room with her, he goes to sleep.

That’s a form of revealing body language. It’s his way of cutting himself off to what’s going on … “

Fast believes Jacqueline Onassis and Farrah Fawcett-Majors smile identically — with their mouths, but definitely not with their eyes. “Unsmiling eyes usually mean feelings of insecurity,” insists Fast about two of the world’s best-known, most-photographed celebrities. “They probably practice their smiles in front of a mirror and realize smiling eyes usually mean wrinkled eyes.

Bette Midler smiles with her whole face. She lets all the wrinkles show. But, then, she doesn’t give a damn how she photographs.”

IT’S AN OPEN secret Nelson Rockefeller is “nervous” about-the fact he never became president of the United States. His highest political aspirations seemingly have been thwarted by too much Rockefeller circumstance.

“Rockefeller betrayed his fear feelings and lack of confidence with twitching eyebrows,” assumes Fast. “But he got around that by wearing heavy hornrimmed glasses.”

On Barbara Walters: “I used to resent her. I thought she pushed too hard. But then I met her on a one-to-one talking basis. She proved she was and is the master of body language, which has become part of her technique.

She faced me openly. She listened intently. She made eye contact. She concentrated so intently that I truly believed she was interested in what I was saying.”

Fast frequently lectures on college campuses. Occasionally he is confronted by body-language situations which upset him.

“Recently I spoke before a university audience that was sitting there sucking lollipops. It was impossible to concentrate before a crowd so bent on oral satisfaction. I was facing an auditorium full of Telly Savalases.”

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