Rachael Ray: The Culilingus

Chef and newly appointed talk show hostess brings the joy of somethin’

Sara Nicole Miller

The lights cast a soft glow as the camera zooms in on a

throbbing, quivering hunk of flesh. The star – a petite, bedroom-eyed brunette – hovers over it, her eyes fixated as she licks her red, glossy lips. She takes the meat between her lips as she moans and squeals with delight. As the juices begin to run down her chin, she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand: “Delish!”

Another butter-injected steak cooked to perfection by Rachael Ray, celebrity chef.

This stimulating scenario – although seemingly better suited for films like “Debbie Does Dallas” – has become the aesthetic, stylistic norm upon which Rachael Ray’s culinary empire has been built.

The woman is unstoppable. She’s already practically monopolized the Food Network with four television shows and she has a dozen cookbooks out to date. She’s even started a lifestyle magazine.

Ray-Ray is the queen of all things edible and all things subliminally genital. On “Thirty Minute Meals by Rachael Ray,” repetitive closeups of chopping, stirring and pounding motions abound. The camera guy always seems to have a frenzied obsession with culinary closeups, similar to the good ol’ “quintessential crotch shots” of your average porn flick.

In her fantasy world of fun, family and hard-core gastroporn, the food picks up where the sex leaves off.

Now the carnivorous bobblehead of the culinary demi-goddess is stirring and simmering her way into your daytime pleasure-box schedule. A more boisterous alternative to Oprah, she’s Italian-American, full of spunk and, as of Sept. 18, is the host of her own syndicated talk show.

She began her career on the Food Network conjuring up signature dishes in a utopian suburban kitchen space. Audiences gobbled her up: She embodied all the pleasantries and plentitudes of American domestic life.

Not only is she the ultimate homemaker, but her girl-next-door good looks and orgasmic facial expressions have created a hypersexualized gastronomical fantasy world for viewers. Aesthetic conventions and sensory desires intersect to feed an ongoing stream of tantalizing images. Not to mention, she embodies one of porn’s most endearing female archetypes (think girl next door and pizza delivery man).

Her talk show is sure to be a smash hit with Holly Housewives all across America. During the first week, she christened the show with a skydiving escapade, guests Diane Sawyer and Oprah, played a make-believe corpse for “CSI New York” and served up cuisine for polar bears.

Even though Ray-Ray has become a household name on cable television, it’s hard to say whether or not she will be a daytime flop. With the odds of success being about one in ten, she could merely be fixin’ to join the ranks of the Daytime Talk Show Graveyard, along with ghouls like Larry Elder, Jane Pauley and Queen Latifah.

In the meantime, rest assured that Ray will continue to titillate her audience – one lemon pound cake, one glazed chicken breast and one closeup cleavage shot at a time.