Thursday, January 12, 2006

Martha And The Muffins

Today, en route to work, I had a flashback to a fun memory from 1983. I grabbed the 12 bus to cross town and it swings around Washington Square. When it hit the square, my videobank turned on and I had an internal chuckle to start the morning.

In 1983, a television production decended upon Philadelphia to produce a mini-series about the life and times of George Washington. Barry Bostwick was to play the Father of our Country and the ever-cool Patty Duke was slated to play Martha Washington. This was a big deal, not just for Philly but especially for those in the core of the gay community. Patty was somewhat of an icon on two levels: the older gay men grew up and adored her and those around my age loved the kitsch factor of Patty -- in fact, her image was used on several flyers for new wave nights around that time.

So, as the filming began, a bunch of us decided to plan an event at Washington Square - they were using much of Society Hill for location shots and we had an advance schedule of where they would be shooting, thanks to the fact that just about everyone in the production team was queer too!

So, we planned a brunch on the grass of Washington Square - near the southwest corner of the square. Across the street they had transformed those historic buildings into even OLDER historic buildings and made the area resemble Philadelphia circa 1700s.

My friend Andy came dressed completely as Patty Duke from her 60s TV show - grant it Andy was 6'5", but he still got an E for effort. Many of us had made signs of adoration towards Patty and we brought tons of brunch foods: bagels, juices and of course muffins. In the spirit of the day, I brought my Martha [Washington] & The Muffins cassettes and we spent most the day just hanging in the park watching the production crew prep the site.

Finally, the moment arrived - Patty was on site!!! From what I gathered later, they were actually filming over on 4th Street all day and she was there just to check on the location, which they were going to shoot at the following day! (argh!, so much for our gay friendly source!)

Anyway - someone in the production team told her about us and she came over - still in costume (sort of like what she is wearing in this picture) and signed autographs and such. My friend Sara was the only one of us with a camera [a Polaroid One-Step] and, as you know if you ever used one of those, you only got 10 instant pictures per cartridge.

Sadly, my shutterbug friend had shot a bunch already, so there was only one left - so someone took it of Patty and Sara. The rest of us were resigned to be content with just the memory of the experience and of the day. We were and I still am.

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