By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
This kind of flippancy is illustrative of the Temple's worldview. But Parfrey says, "I take them seriously. I take them seriously in the respect that they take what they do seriously. People can't go full-bore on something seven days a week for nearly seven years without some degree of seriousness."
Parfrey is convinced that the Partridge Family Temple fits just as well into the Cult Rapture concept as do other people and other groups he's included in the book. Among those, he says, are "militia groups, patriot groups, Bo Gritz, coprophiles, and this weird sex cult in San Diego where you have to be crippled or paraplegic to join. And there's also a cult of lonely, ugly girls, mainly from Southern California, who produce things called `slash fiction.' It's actually pornographic fiction based upon their fantasies about TV stars. In that respect, they have something in common with the Partridge Family."
Do these TV cults represent a trend? Before long, will doctrines celebrating, say, Bewitched, The Munsters or Me and the Chimp suddenly emerge and take the nation by storm? Parfrey knows better than to predict. But he does allow that "the exposure of the mind to ideas that are contrary or unusual is a good thing."
At Casa Bonita, the four Partridges clutch Parfrey's opinion to their bosoms. They repeatedly raise a flag designed to alert waitresses to service requests, ensuring that a parade of potential recruits beats a path to the platform. As the Reverend passes out stickers to one waitress, Giddle asks, "Is Bananas coming on soon?"
This is no casual query. Bananas is a gorilla (actually, a diver in a monkey suit) who appears in one of the skits that restaurant staffers perform at regular intervals. It's the Family's favorite Casa Bonita theatrical--and when an actress wearing safari duds steps onto a stage above the waterfall and begins shrieking that Bananas has escaped, a smile spreads across Reverend Dan's face. He thrusts his hands into a large duffel bag and emerges with a gorilla costume of his own (in his spare time, he performs at children's birthday parties, most often as Barney or a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger). The Reverend's Temple brethren shake with laughter as the actress, who's already made at least one pilgrimage to their table, shouts out her lines.
"Has anybody seen the gorilla?" she wails. "How about you, Partridge Family?"
At that moment, Reverend Dan pulls the costume's mask over his head, causing the actress to cry out in what seems like genuine shock, "Oh, my God! You're the gorilla!" She waves wildly at a fellow actor wearing matching safari garb and carrying a large butterfly net. "The gorilla is over there! The gorilla is over there!"
With that, the Reverend runs wildly down the aisles, swinging his arms and making jungle noises. Customers twist in their seats to watch the spectacle, and one five-year-old is so startled that he topples down three stairs trying to get out of the gorilla's way (he isn't hurt). In the meantime, the actor captures the Reverend, prompting the actress to holler, "You caught the wrong gorilla! You caught the wrong gorilla!"
Just then, the right gorilla, who'd been waiting patiently for a cue that never came, wanders onto the stage, seemingly perplexed about what he's supposed to be doing. He captures the actress, but it's several moments before the actor realizes it. He's having too much fun with Reverend Dan.
When an exhausted, sweat-drenched Reverend at last plods back to the Temple table, he's tailed by the restaurant's manager and a security guard, both wearing angry expressions. Boyd is delirious with delight. "What are they going to do? Arrest him for impersonating a gorilla?" he wonders. Then a terrible thought strikes him: "Maybe they'll ban him from Casa Bonita forever. They'll put his picture up by all the cash registers."
Reverend Dan looks worried as the manager gets into his face and asks, "What were you doing out there?"
"I wasn't doing anything."
"Oh, I think you were doing something."
"You were interrupting the show," the security guard informs him.
"I was just caught up in everything," Reverend Dan says. "It's so exciting here. See, this is our holy shrine, and we're the Partridge Family."
The security guard cocks his head. "Excuse me?"
"The Partridge Family. You've heard of the Partridge Family, haven't you?"
The manager is getting less amused with each passing minute. "What do you mean by that?"
"The Partridge Family," the Reverend continues. "You know, the TV show. It's a religion, too, and I was just feeling so psyched about it that I had to let everyone know."
"I don't know what that means, either," the manager snaps. "I want to know what you were doing out there."
The guard points at the actors. "Those people are part of the show. You're the customer and they're the performers."
"I don't want to be paid or anything," Reverend Dan protests. "I just thought it would be fun. That's what the Partridge Family is all about. Fun."
"That's not the right way to have fun," the security guard barks. "You're the customer and they're the entertainers. And they're trying to make it fun for everybody, not just you."