By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
With so many citizens of the globe ignorant about these matters, Reverend Dan yearns to introduce Temple wisdom to the masses--and he would like to do so through the mass media.
"You know, the gods have a lot of articles written about them, they're on TV, they have all this merchandise," Reverend Dan says. "We want to imitate the gods--and being on TV and in magazines and newspapers makes us more godlike."
The Temple's first major success in this realm came as the result of a 1991 concert in Connecticut headlined by Cassidy, with Bonaduce opening as a stand-up comic. Reverend Dan, Shaun and two other Denver disciples traveled to the venue and began passing out stickers to ticket buyers prior to showtime. "They were a little leery of us," Shaun alleges. "They were primarily Yale students, so they weren't all that swift."
The situation began to deteriorate when the Reverend asked a young woman if he could lay his hands on her. She subsequently raced to a nearby policeman and complained. Reverend Dan was promptly ejected, and Shaun was grabbed by a cop a short time later.
"He was telling me to leave," Shaun testifies, "when all of a sudden I was overtaken by the spirit of Danny. I started yelling at the guy, telling him he was a square and a geek, and he grabbed me, cuffed me and tossed me on my stomach, causing me to vomit. He was a very rude person."
The altercation prevented the Partridges from seeing the performance, but it earned a writeup in the Hartford Advocate. There, in the paper's religion section, was a photo of Dan (identified as "Reverend Placenta Rising Partridge") and an interview that laid out the religion's tenets in broad strokes.
This notoriety led to a smattering of Temple items in Denver dailies, including a brief mention of Shaun's momentous meeting with Maureen McCormick, who co-starred on the Seventies sitcom The Brady Bunch as big sister Marcia Brady. Even though McCormick never acted on The Partridge Family, Shaun explains that Marcia is especially important in the Temple's ideology: "The Brady Bunch was just a TV show, but Keith found favor with Marcia. She was a mere mortal, but he fell in love with her and gave her some of his powers and took her as his bride. So right now, Marcia's reigning over all of us."
Shaun encountered his queen several years ago when McCormick was in Denver for a personal appearance. He successfully convinced her to sign a section of his arm near his colorful Marcia Brady tattoo and "a sacred parchment"--actually a photocopy of a Brady-era McCormick photograph that he'd soaked with his own blood. He adds that Giddle snagged for him a water glass that McCormick had left behind; he used it as his "holy chalice" for a year--until a former girlfriend broke it. "I pointed my finger at her and said, `You've been cursed,'" Shaun notes. Needless to say, the relationship ended then and there.
Around the same period, the Temple was videotaped by a crew from the syndicated tabloid-news program A Current Affair. Producers eventually shelved the footage, Shaun feels, "because I think they thought we were just people collecting stuff. They filmed us and everything, but when we started preaching the word and giving vanilla-fluff sandwiches to homeless people, I think they got a little confused."
A far more successful piece of public relations was a respectful overview of the Temple that appeared in the defunct Colorado Music Magazine in 1992. Its author was Boyd Rice, who immediately felt a kinship with the Partridges. And no wonder: Boyd is both an internationally recognized musician (his credits include electronic-music albums released under the name Non) and the official spokesperson for the Church of Satan, a loose amalgamation formed around Anton LaVey, the reclusive author of The Satanic Bible. Boyd, who proudly uses the Partridge surname whenever he's participating in Temple events, sees no contradiction between his promotion of these two seemingly disparate organizations. "They're both religions of the flesh," he says. "And they're both about the here and now."
Through Boyd, the Temple founders were introduced to Adam Parfrey, a journalist who's written about fringe groups for publications such as the Village Voice. Parfrey also owns Portland, Oregon's Feral House publishing company, best known for putting out Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr., a biography by Rudolph Grey on which the film Ed Wood was based. Parfrey's latest project is Cult Rapture, which focuses on millennial phenomena--bizarre groups (the Partridge Family Temple among them) that Parfrey sees as typifying a societal and cultural decline accelerated by the approach of the 21st century. Last year, while preparing an October 1994 museum exhibit that drew on similar themes for the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, Parfrey naturally thought of the Temple. That's because, in Parfrey's words, "the idea behind the exhibit is that the art of cultists and apocalpytists is more interesting, more aesthetically charged, than the work of the usual creative painter."
In an effort to support this conclusion, Parfrey gave museum attendees the opportunity to view paintings from the brush of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, canvases by Rodney Vanworth that were created in collaboration with people gathered outside the Los Angeles courthouse where O.J. Simpson's pretrial hearing was taking place--and a display of Temple paraphernalia. Shaun traveled to Seattle for the premiere and was quoted in an Associated Press article on the presentation. He didn't even mind that the Temple's home was inadvertently referred to as Los Angeles. "That was the Manson family," he says. "Easy mistake to make."