“Oh my lord! Is that a cockroach?”
Pointing in horror, a colorfully attired Earlene, dressed in a tight latex skirt adorned with pictures of primping glamour girls, a boldly-sequined, slogan-coated sweater (”Girls just wanna have fun! Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend!”), and tiger-striped tights with leopard skin shoes, has just directed our attention to the tiny insect making like Jiminy Cricket on the wall as we wait for our Jumbo slices of pepperoni pizza to arrive.
“Don’t let that thing crawl into my wig—I mean, my hair!” yelps a similarly alarmed Pearlene, wearing a pink, rhinestoned sweater, bat-winged sunglasses, and a multicolored boa resembling a garland stolen from last year’s Christmas tree.
“Kill the damn thing for us!” Earlene commands me, sliding a paper napkin from beneath the silverware on table, sternly adding, “I’d smoosh it myself but I’m too scared.”
“Have napkin, will travel,” I murmur, and reaching over, with a small but decisive crunch, the multi-legged critter is dispatched to cockroach Purgatory. And So begins my post-film conversation with Earlene and Pearlene, the San Francisco-based comedy team best known as the Trailer Trash Queens. E & P are the creators and frisky front-persons for Earlene & Pearlene’s Deep Fried Fun Events (www.deepfriedfun.com), an astoundigly popular, trailer-culture party experience in which the Queens (Diane Conway and Karen Warner) show up at corporate events and fund-raisers, bachelorette parties, and the like, to lead revellers through such trailer trash rituals as the “Bubba Eye for the Yuppie Guy” makeover, the “Price is Sorta Right” game show (in which contestants guess the retail price of things like Spam, Cheese Whiz and Velveeta)—and the Queen’s signature event, “Trailer Trash Bingo.”
Moments ago, we all went to the movies to see Calendar Girls, the new comedy-drama starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters as a pair of restless English matrons who conspire, with an assortment of other mid-aged members of the their local Women’s Institution club, to raise money for the village hospital by posing for their own semi-nude calendar.
“It gave me a whole new appreciation of being middle-aged,” says Pearlene, who, as Karen Warner, is the author of numerous books including What’s So Funny About Being Catholic? “Here are these women,” she says, “and they want to raise money for charity, which we do already—only our thing is bingo.”
“ . . . and theirs is boobs,” adds Earlene, who appeared, under the name Diane Conway, in the long running Tony & Tina’s Wedding, in San Francisco.
“Wow, Bingo and boobs!” laughs Pearlene. “Now I’m thinking we should maybe combine those, and start doing bingo games in the nude. What do you think, Earlene?”
“It’s a fine idea,” grin Earlene, clearly impressed. “Nude Bingo! That’s an idea that might really have legs—and I guess every other part of the body, too.”
“So what was I saying?” asks Pearlene. “Oh yeah. . . So I was thinking, it was so beautiful that these women, who are older and a little out of shape, could take off their clothes and men would still appreciate them. It was beautiful.”
“It was wonderful,” agrees Earlene. “It’s kind of an estrogen high, that movie. It’s almost as good as Thelma and Louise, but without anyone having to drive a convertible off a cliff. And I’d like to add that these women, though a little past their prime, were much nicer to look at than, say, Paris Hilton.”
“Oh, that little tramp! I hate her,” nods Pearlene.
“I do too, but I think those girls in the movie were a lot like us,” says Earlene. ”Don’t you think so, Pearlene?”
“They were, they were,” Pearlene agrees. “They were ambitious. They had creative ideas. They knew how to implement them, and they were viewed as a bit odd in their own home town.”
“Which we are,” affirms Earlene, shrugging, as the pizza arrives. “In the Lonely Arms trailer park,” she tells me, “they all think we’re just crazy.”
“It’s because we dress so good,” explains Pearlene.
“True,” Earlene says. “But the women in this movie didn’t dress so hot. I don’t think that little English village they lived in has a K-Mart. I couldn’t stand to live in a town without a K-mart.”
“Those dresses they were wearing were terrible,” whispers Pearlene, trying to be polite. “They were so bad I couldn’t wait for those ladies to take off their clothes. But the point is, it’s easy to take off your clothes when your young and beautiful and you have no wrinkles or cellulite and your boobs aren’t sagging down to your knees.”
“Hey, hey, hey!” warns Earlene.
“All I’m saying is that these women were my heroes, because when you get a little older you usually get a little hesitant about being naked, ‘cause when you turn on the television everybody’s young. An older woman is forced into thinking she’s not attractive anymore. And that’s just sad.
“Not that we have this problem,” she adds.
“Of course not!” Earlene says. “But I’m with you Pearlene, that’s what I loved about Calendar Girls. These women had the balls to actually get naked. But they were classy about it—and they were successful. That nudie calendar made a lot of money.”
“So,” I ask, “since the women in the film posed with things like cans of jam and baked breads, covering up the, uh . . .”
“The naughty bits,” suggests Pearlene.
“The naughty bits,” I nod. “So what kinds of objects would the Trailer Trash Queens pose with if you were to produce a calendar like theirs?”
“Well, we’d use the things native to our own culture,” muses Earlene. “Things like Bingo Cards, cans of Spam, half-built Harley parts left in our yard . . .”
“T.V. clickers,” says Pearlene. “Tabloid newspapers.”
“And you know what else we’d use?” Earlene says. “Four little squirming pit bull puppies. Two for each of us. One for each boob.”
“Oh, Earlene, that would be so cute!” Pearlene squeals. “As long as they’re tame pit bulls—because those things have a lot of teeth and a jaw that won’t open up again once it’s crunches down on you.”
Both women shudder visibly at the thought. I shudder too, for that matter, then I ask them to predict what sort of people would be most attracted to a film like Calendar Girls.
“It’s a movie for women of a certain age,” says Earlene. “Definitely a chick flick. I don’t think your grade-A macho he-man is gonna say, ‘Oh, honey, let’s go see Calendar Girls tonight.’ There are no special effects and nothing really explodes, so men aren’t likely to be too interested.”
“What would it take, then,” I ask, “to get a grade-A macho he-man into a movie like this?”
“Chloroform,” suggests Pearlene.
“A blow job,’ says Earlene.
“Or maybe,” laughs Pearlene, “a combination of the two.”
There is a moment of tengential sepculation, as earlene and Peralene plot the specifics of how such a plan would be carried out. Eventually, thet agree it’s probably not worth the effort, and the conversation turns to the underlying moral of Calendar Girls.
“The moral is—Be yourself,” says Earlene. “Any damn fool can be ordinary. Forget that. Just be your own bad self.”
“I think,” says Pearlene, “the moral is this: ‘If you find the true meaning of your life, you will find fame and fortune, whether that fame and fortune comes from being the owner of the Glam-o-Rama like Earlene, or being a highly-desired Bingo caller—or being Miss January in an English nudie calendar.”
“Oh . . . stop it!” chokes Earlene, wiping away tears. “Stop it right now! That’s just too beautiful.”
“But it’s true! You know how Joseph Campbell said ‘Follow your bliss?’” Pearlene continues.
“Sure, I saw that Myth show once when my television clicker got stuck on PBS,” Earlene replies.
“Well,” says Pearlene, “I think the moral of Calendar Girls is ‘Follow your boobs.’ That’s it! If you follow your boobs, doors will open where you did not know there were doors.”
Writer David Templeton takes interesting people to the movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate post-film conversation. This is not a review; rather, it’s a freewheeling, tangential discussion of art, alternative ideas, and popular culture.
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Posted on January 19, 2004 in Features by David Templeton
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