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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apollonia and Peaches Christ Bring the 1980s Back to the Castro with Purple Rain

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge Fabulousness times two: Apollonia and Peaches Christ
  • Fabulousness times two: Apollonia and Peaches Christ

Purple Rain and the Castro Theatre are a film/venue combination of a perfection that might be matched only by screening Milk at the Castro, or The Hippie Temptation at the Red Vic, or Das Boot at Opera Plaza. Naturally, Friday night's Purple Rain screening was an event to dress for, and in addition to the requisite spectacular drag ensembles, many wore their flashiest '80s regalia: distressed denim, winged eye shadow, pumps with lacy anklets, bangles, bangles, and more bangles.

Prince's costar in Purple Rain, Apollonia, gracious and looking somehow younger than she did in the movie, chatted with Peaches Christ before a worshipful audience, later signing posters and posing for photos. The line of fans snaked through the second story of the house during the show and long after.

click to enlarge "Prince" attempts to upstage Peaches & Co.
  • "Prince" attempts to upstage Peaches & Co.

I don't know that I've ever found the experience of watching such a bad film to be so moving. And it is definitely an exquisitely bad film that has gotten even worse with age. The story and dialogue do not merit discussion, and Prince still claims his throne at the nadir of pop-star film-acting (and the rest of the cast almost manage to upstage him in this regard).

click to enlarge A purple umbrella for (duh) Purple Rain.
  • A purple umbrella for (duh) Purple Rain.

He stares, paces, swats at things, and resumes staring. It's odd that such loin-frostingly awkward sex scenes nearly garnered the film an X rating -- the ham-handed boob kneading, the kissing like two Brillo pads sniffing each other while the director yells, "Put some neck into it!"

click to enlarge lr_purplerain_peaches_02.jpg

The only shocker is the film's blasé stance on violence against women. Morris throws a female fan into a dumpster in what is evidently a comic moment. The Kid (Prince) slaps Apollonia several times, and with such force, we are asked to believe, that she slams into the ground. The only reprimand he receives is her "Why can't you just let me love you?" weeping and the club owner (who is apparently Cee-Lo Green)'s remark that he's turning into his abusive, tortured father (an insult met with stare #403). One is left to assume that his soulful, stareful performance of the abstruse power ballad of the title (written by the humorless lesbian stereotypes he spent the rest of the film dismissing) indicates that he's reformed.

click to enlarge Did we really dress like that way back when? Oh yes we did.
  • Did we really dress like that way back when? Oh yes we did.

Of course, everything that happens in between the uniformly funktacular musical numbers is filler and nonsense. There is not a clunker in the soundtrack, and Prince's performances still dazzle: His fingers creeping up his chest and around his neck in the opening verses of "Darling Nikki," his crazed air-humping later in the same song, his cat-rape screeches at the climax of "The Beautiful Ones," his impossible bourrés in "I Would Die 4 U," his full-throated howling of the title song. He makes other pop stars look stiff, lukewarm, unsexed, unsouled.

click to enlarge A truly electric look
  • A truly electric look

Even the songs he doesn't himself perform bring the house down: Morris and the Time manage to make two of the world's dorkiest dances, "The Bird," and that "O-ee-o-ee-o" bit (which looks like he's trying to piss himself without getting his legs wet) seem cool.

click to enlarge Starstruck: Apollonia and fan
  • Starstruck: Apollonia and fan

And to top it off, we were invited to sing along, which the better part of us did. (Although -- why did I seem to be the only one who sang along to "The Beautiful Ones"? Does nobody else perceive the excellence of that song? Or am I the only one who can sing as high as Prince?) We also talked back to the screen at the moments of particularly preposterous dialogue, which was most of it.

Yay-ess, it was a good night.

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Larissa Archer

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