Put this in your front lawn, middle america!
Welcome to a new segment here at Popular Opinions called Chaznecdotes. Yes, this is going to feature Chaz Stories to Tell in the Dark, little nuggets of entertainment from my endlessly fascinating life. Who knows what tremendous adventures and outstanding incidents I’ve witnessed? Well, I do, and you think you know, but you have no idea and abilities to know what I know now when I was younger, you know? Now, without any further Depardu, let’s get to the me!
Last Monday (June 14th, 2010 AD) I had the tremendous fortune to see the reunion show of one of my all time favorite bands, the Toilet Boys. Glam punk at a time when it was most needed, I’ve waited over a decade to see them and they absolutely obliterated the stage. Afterward I spoke with their drummer Electric Eddie who, when I was 15-years-old, actually responded to a fan letter I had written them. On their old world-wide webpage, Eddie said his favorite movie was the John Waters classic Pink Flamingos. It is with that knowledge of shared interests I told him this story that I’m about to tell you…
I’ve always been a huge fan of Director John Waters. He’s second only to Lloyd Kaufman on cinematic admiration list. From an early age I loved how he mixed the cutting edge bourgeois aesthetics of the Andy Warhol/Paul Morrisey/Kenneth Anger films with the genuine blue-collar bizarreness of his Baltimore background. He made such an entertaining cesspool out of everyday life, something I’ve
blatantly stolen attempted to replicate in just about everything I’ve written. Back in 8th Grade, when I first got into films, my best friend Matt and I used to attempt to rent the most bizarre out-there movies we could find and share them with whomever we could. At an age where most of my classmates were getting busted for trading Porn videos*, my teachers would angrily apprehend this sole Hollywood Video with an NC-17 rating and then disappointingly return it to us as it contained “nothing any young mind could possibly find erotic.” After months of preaching the Pink Flamingoes gospel throughout that incredibly awkward always fun summer between junior high and high school, imagine my thrill when the clerk at Suncoast told me it was coming to the Minneapolis Uptown theater for a special midnight screening.
It was a clear black night, a clear white moon in September, 2000. Since my Mother is the absolute greatest Mom in the world (source: Guinness) she agreed to take me to the midnight screening as “it would be fun to experience a real midnight movie.” Imagine our surprise when we got there and the line going around the block of the theater was (to use high school terminology) all “jocks and preps?” As it turns out, our local newspaper the Star Tribune had listed that night’s screening to be the original Austin Powers movie. Seeing as us Minnesotans are a go-with-the-flow people, the crowd decided to stick around and take a gamble on this movie that, as far as they know, might not have had the familiar catchphrases they would love to repeat on end for the next decade.
I’d like to stop for a second and let you know this story is about to get gross and is not recommended for pregnant women, small children or small pregnant children who are eating. If you aren’t familiar with exactly what Pink Flamingos contains, and you aren’t at work, give it a Google. It’s pretty out there. Granted Austin Powers is some raunchy, silly fun, but no amount of “Yeah, Babies!” could prepare you for “the filthiest people on Earth.” Flamingos is an entirely different beast all together. To quote Roger Ebert “It should not be considered as a film but as a fact, or perhaps an object.” The Uptown theater is a very classy building. It’s a one screen theater with a balcony and art adorning the staircase, so this wasn’t just something hitting the uninitiated out of left field. It was a whole ‘nother stadium.
No less than three minutes into the the film, the packed theater had loud groaning, and not the type you would expect from midnight in Uptown, Minnesota. There were horrified gasps, audible retching and the site of shadows recoiling in their seats. Fifteen minutes in, people began leaving the theater in droves. The unfamiliar masochists who stuck around to the halfway point, however, were soon visited by the filth fairies who gave the rest of us a gift in the form of their curse. I can’t write exactly what happened on screen that prompted such a reaction (if you ever see it, and I highly suggest you do, you’ll find the movie is a series of trump cards) but at a certain scene the ENTIRE FRONT ROW OF THE BALCONY BEGAN VOMITING SIMULTANEOUSLY. One-by-one the chain-reaction of blown chunks shocked and delighted us all as all but about two dozen or so of us left the theatre. Waters himself had once said he’d rather make someone throw-up than get a standing ovation, so this night must have been his Palme d’Or.
Me @ 'Pink Flamingos' star Divine's grave in Baltimore. Be jealous.
That’s my story and you’re sticky from it.
So until next time…let’s agree to agree!
*Which is why, to this day, the mention of Air Bud conjures up images of something quite different flying through the air.