Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 16, 2008
John McCain: the Cockettes connection

Given a recent news report, TiR counts four degrees of separation:

from McCain to Phil Gramm

from Gramm to brother-in-law & movie producer/bankroller George Caton

from Caton to movie director Mark Lester

from Lester to his 1971 production, "Tricia's Wedding," starring the Cockettes.

Some video clips of "Tricia's Wedding" are currently viewable here. They are accidentally-snort-coffee-out-through-your-nose hilarious.

Apart from late disco legend Sylvester, participants in the movie included Scrumbly (as the Pope), Sebastian (as director and writer) and Sweet Pam (as Golda Meir).

The latter three individuals were among those who spoke at a very inspiring Cockettes symposium last month (discussed here, photos here). The event had a general vibe of hatchets buried, peace made, misconceptions overturned, records set straight, and lost friends & loved ones memorialized.

Meanwhile, Lester's filmography is like a timeline of insurmountable cinematic cheese -- or brilliance. For example, the trailer for his 1979 "Roller Boogie" is currently on-line here.

Why on earth hasn't McCain drawn upon this fantastic network of resources to pump some life into his campaign? Why doesn't he ask Gramm to work some of these old connections?

Imagine the campaign commercials that could result. Imagine the stagecraft at campaign events. Imagine John McCain in facepaint, glitter, feathers and a wedding dress. On rollerskates.

Such a creative team certainly could help put McCain's "cottage cheese amid lime Jell-o salad" aesthetic    far    behind    him   forever.

It's still not too late!

On a different note: To explore perhaps an even more roundabout McCain/Cockettes connection, this time via the numerous similarities between Nixon and McCain that have    been    noted, Pam    Tent's (a.k.a Sweet Pam) book apparently mentions an astonishing fact about "Tricia's Wedding." According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian
Tent relates a hilarious real-life account of how the Nixon administration hired a burglar to break into the film lab and steal a print of Tricia's Wedding for a secret screening in the White House basement, in order to decide whether to suppress the film.

John Dean is said to have corroborated this, according to an interview with Mark Lester:
John Dean told the story on Johnny Carson how a burglar was ordered to break into the lab so a print could be screened in the White House basement, that bunker where all the guys would hide, just like it was a stag film. I think it's amazing that a $3000 underground comedy could so distract the top level of our government.

Nixon was outraged by these drag queens playing all these Nixon White [H]ouse people. They ran a clip on the Johnny Carson Show.

The exhaustive Johnny Carson show guest database on-line shows no mention of John Dean ever having appeared.

Nevertheless, look at the timeline: Patricia Nixon's wedding occured on June 12, 1971. "Tricia's Wedding" the movie was released on the same day.

When did the film lab break-in occur? We gather that it happened sometime before the film's release, in mid- or early 1971.

If we are correct, then the "Tricia's Wedding" burglary was the Nixon administration's first break-in (that we know of).

The movie's release, and thus the burglary, preceded all of these:

  • the publication of the Pentagon Papers, news of which appeared in the Sunday New York Times on 6/13/71, alongside coverage of Tricia's wedding;

  • the founding of the "White House Plumbers" in July 1971, in response to that NYT bombshell;

  • the breaking into the office of the psychiatrist of Pentagon Papers leaker Ellsberg  (9/9/71);

  • and by almost a year the first Watergate burglary.

Was the "Tricia's Wedding" burglary a trial run -- or even the inspiration -- for the later burglaries?

We will go still further
(with tongue still planted firmly in cheek)
:       Was it the basement screening of a Cockettes film that finally caused Nixon's mind to snap?
(perhaps he flipped his wig at the precise moment in the movie when the bride is revealed quite graphically to be a man.)
Was outrage over the movie what finally pushed the dangerously    thin-skinned    politician over the moral edge, into the paranoia, lawlessness and recklessness that brought down his administration?

The implications are staggering for the psychological study of a past -- and perhaps future -- president.