Midnight Specialists: Midnight Mass - Page 2

The queen of midnight movies in SF: Peaches Christ
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[1965]), and a ladies-in-prison parody sketch (for Jack Hill's The Big Doll House [1971]).

"Landmark said, 'We'll give you one season, one summer, and we'll reevaluate,'" Grannell says. It didn't take an abacus to see that the church of Christ was turning away as many people as were filling the seats. The first Midnight Mass humbly featured a Satana look-alike contest in celebration of the buxom spine snapper of Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965). Ten years later, Satana herself regularly appears at Midnight Mass. The still-star-struck Grannell recently attended her birthday barbecue in Los Angeles, where he was surrounded by enough Meyer actresses to leave the ground of a decent-size backyard completely untouched by the sun. On his way back to SF, he was invited to stop by Peterson's house, where she cooked him a spooky vegetarian dinner. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would know these women," he says. "It's just so surreal for me."

Peterson and Satana seem pretty jazzed about their relationship with Grannell and Peaches too. Both icons make a point of noting the intense — sometimes alarming — devotion of Midnight Mass audiences. "There was one little guy who just cried the whole time," Peterson says, recalling a meet and greet after her appearance last year. "He stood there in front of me and just cried and cried and cried. I don't know if he was crying because he loved me or [because] I was making him miserable."

Peterson spins some funny tales, including one about almost running over a bicycling Waters in Provincetown, Mass. But when it comes to Midnight Mass, Satana might earn bragging rights. Between pleasantly digressive reminiscences about her days as "the numero uno tassel twirler" in gentlemen's clubs around the country (including a four-month stint at North Beach's Condor Club, where she worked with exotic-dancing foremother Carol Doda before "the problem with the guy caught in the piano"), she told me about a fan at her first Mass who refused to be inconvenienced by a heart attack. "He wouldn't let the paramedics take him away until he got my autograph," she insists.

Grannell has his own ER anecdote, of course. It was the summer of 2004. Peaches was showing Mommie Dearest (1981) and offering mother-versus-daughter mud wrestling as an aperitif. "Martiny and I were Chastity versus Cher," Grannell remembers. "We did this whole ridiculous buildup where I was singing Cher songs and she was out there with an acoustic guitar doing, like, Tracy Chapman and 4 Non Blondes." While fighting in the mud — an improvised cocktail of soft drink syrup, water, and popcorn — Brenchley dislocated his shoulder. He left the stage and was taken to the closest hospital. After declaring himself the winner and quickly introducing the movie to a crowd that wasn't any the wiser, Grannell went to visit his injured sidekick, looking like a streetwalker who'd just taken part in a hog-chasing contest. He braced himself for the treatment he would get at the admitting window. "I walked in, and two male nurses came up to me and said, 'Ms. Christ, she's going to be fine,'<\!s>" Grannell says. "They knew exactly who Peaches Christ was and even how she might come to be covered in slop. They treated me like royalty."

That type of reception is indicative of Peaches's breakout popularity. Midnight Mass has traveled to Seattle three times since 2005 and went to New York in 2006. (Grannell says there's even a nightclub in Ireland that bears Peaches's name.) The de Young Museum is hosting "A Decade of Peaches Christ" in September. And a new television show, Peaches Christ's Midnight Mass, produced by Landmark-owning Internet billionaire Mark Cuban, is also set to air in August on the HDNet Movie Channel.

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