By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Nodding politely, Reverend Dan notes, "They're doing a good job."
The longer the conversation goes on, the more the manager cools down. He ultimately tells the Reverend that he and his party may remain as long as he promises not to don his gorilla suit again. Reverend Dan spends the next half hour chatting with extremely impressed Casa Bonita workers. One waitress asks if the Family is celebrating anything.
Reverend Dan says, "Love."
Giddle says, "Life."
Shaun says, "Reality."
For David Cassidy, the reality that people are fascinated by The Partridge Family more than two decades after its cancellation is rather unsettling. He's been acting steadily since he was a teenager, and over the past several years he's earned consistently generous notices for his turns in such Broadway productions as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Blood Brothers, now on tour. But he can't seem to get out from under his image as Keith Partridge, teen idol.
"It's not even frustrating anymore," Cassidy says. "I loved and enjoyed The Partridge Family, and I'm thrilled that millions of people love it still. It's been a great asset for me, but it's also been an obstacle artistically and creatively. And I no longer spend any time talking about it. I wrote my book last year with one real purpose in mind--which was to answer every possible question about this experience. So that in the future, when anybody asks me about the Partridge Family, I can say, `Turn to page 193.'"
Nonetheless, he's curious about the Partridge Family Temple, about which he knows little. "I've done some concerts around the United States in the last two or three years, and they've come to a couple of my shows," he remembers. "They were handing out literature and all kinds of bizarre stuff. At first I thought it was just somebody winding me up, but then I had a couple of the guys who work for me check it out, and they told me they talked to someone who was seemingly very convinced that he was a high priest of the Partridge Family church." Cassidy also is familiar with Reverend Dan's Jon Stewart Show appearance, which concluded with Stewart's on-air conversion to the Temple way ("William Shatner and the lady who plays Counselor Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation were on there, too, but they weren't that into it," the Reverend concedes).
When it comes time to comment on the Temple, however, Cassidy is cautious. "I don't mind it if it's just for fun," he announces. "The Partridge Family definitely depicted fun and was representative of a time of freedom--really the last gasp of innocence in America. There was a dichotomy there, in that it was an era when dope, sex and cheap thrills were socially acceptable. Yet it stood for a very moral picture of what American families were like.
"Once one puts the spin of religion or church on it, though, it suddenly becomes rather serious, and we get concerned. As somebody brought up here in America, I respect everybody's right to choose whatever religious belief they want. But believe me, these were fictitious characters. The producers and the creators of the show only wanted to do something that would be a good time and commercially viable."
In that regard, they succeeded beyond most anyone's expectations. The Partridge Family is a knockout with a new generation thanks to its run on the Nickelodeon cable channel, which Cassidy uncharacteristically helped hype (he did so in part, he says, to attract attention to Blood Brothers). But while he appreciates what Partridge has done for him, he's learned to keep it in perspective. And he thinks others would benefit from doing the same.
"It's all well and good for people to have a fixation with television shows," he states, "and I'm glad we had a positive influence on a lot of them. But sometimes I suspect that TV programs and programming have had a little too much impact on people. It was really intended for people's entertainment and enjoyment, and not to influence them in any way in terms of a lifestyle choice."
Clearly, the members of the Partridge Family Temple do not agree. They're marching ahead with plans to publish their own magazine, to be called The Partridge Family Temple Funner, along with a Partridge bible. And, of course, there is their mission to welcome Keith to Colorado. About these goals, Cassidy offers this simple critique: "Dare I say it's rather...tragic?"
"Keith's a natural-born prick," Shaun responds, his mouth full of Casa Bonita cheese enchilada. "He's the War God."
"I met him at one of his book signings," Reverend Dan relates. "He wouldn't even talk to anyone, and he wouldn't sign anything except books that were bought at that store that day. I bought one anyhow, and when it was my turn, I told him about the temple, and how we worship him and drink his sperm. And he didn't even look up. He just said, `C'mon, get happy,' and went to the next person. I don't think he heard me.