January 15, 2012

San Francisco. October, 1981

This was the year of Mommie Dearest, the regrettable Joan Crawford biopic that torpedoed the career of director Frank Perry (David and Lisa) and forever relegated Miss Faye Dunaway to the category of shrieking caricature. Yes, I saw it. But I have an excuse. I was in Los Angeles and it was playing at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. How could I not? A few days later, arriving in San Francisco, I found the Castro neighborhood had embraced the film as only a community that welcomes shrieking caricatures could. Witness this Castro Street gift shop window, one of many. Actually, the memory that remains with me most from that trip took place just outside this shop. I noticed the approach of two big, intimidating butch guys done up in tutto leather: chains, boots, gloves, mirrored shades, caps, cigars, the whole bit. As they passed me, I heard one say to the other, “You can’t make a quiche with half-and-half.” I swear to God.

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