Tammy Faye & John Waters
The Castro Theater
November 8, 2001

Review by Cory Brown

Last night, Ian Brennan booked and promoted a benefit show at the Castro featuring the greatest bill of all time: John Waters (telling stories and answering questions) and Tammy Faye (ne' Bakker, singing songs and telling stories). John Waters was hysterical and utterly charming, in a slightly nervous way (he had no segue-ways, but it didn't matter). My girlfriend, for whom I bought tickets to this shindig for her birthday, has not seen anything before Hairspray. This means we will be renting Desperate Living in the weeks to come. I can't recommend this movie enough. Nearly ten years after I first saw it, my friends and I still say to each other "You have a certain odor about you!" Waters cited Female Trouble as his early favorite and while DL lacks Divine, it's still pretty amazing.

Intermission, then a trailer for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" (which you should all rent) is screened, then music rises in the house and TF begins singing from the back of the auditorium "Welcome To My Life" dressed in a head to toe white fur coat (which may or may not have been real). She slowly walks down the aisle, all the while shaking hands and fielding kisses and hugs from audience members. The woman held my hand for a solid sixty seconds and, yes, the power of touch, I was completely sold. Some of her charm was sincere and warm, a woman who you like almost in spite of, as well as because of, her bowl-you-over exuberance. Some of it was inadvertent with remarks like (to Castro Theatre organ player David Haggerty) "I've never played a big organ before" or in reference to a deal with Rugrats creators "They're going to make a cartoon outta me!"

sometime the next day...
Janet: Cory Brown! Testify, my brother!
Deb: Hey Cory, can I show you my "uno"?

What Deb and Janet are referring to is when early on in TF's performance, she asked the audience to think about a day they'd like to live over again. Of course, Tammy being the spiritual, positive, life-affirming preacher that she is, she wanted us to think of a day that was so wonderful and inspirational that we would go through it all over again and share that wonder and goodness with the rest of the audience. Being fairly positive, spiritual and life-affirming myself, but just cynical and jaded enough to completely misunderstand the exercise, I thought she had asked us for a day we'd like to do over again as if we could change something about it. Trish and I were seated in the front row just beside the aisle, so naturally, when I raised my hand, Tammy Faye approached me, all smiles, diamonds and perfume.

I told a story about being 12 at summer camp and being in one of those two day summer relationships at that age that has all the drama of the great romances and ending it and it was very dramatic. The girl's name was Amy Cadell. We were all on this retreat (I went to a day camp that year, but we'd go on these three day trips) and I was walking with another girl when Amy appeared, put her arms around my neck and whispered to me, "Do you want to see my uno?" (I wasn't intending to shock the woman nor offend her, but the expression on her face was great.) I was with this other girl, so I politely refused and sort of stepped aside. I told Tammy Faye that I'd like to do that day over again because it would be FOUR YEARS before I'd get another chance like that.

A really, really great night.