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"Adam just kept playing Partridge Family music constantly--I'd wake up to it," Shaun says. "It was starting to piss me off, the way he would stare at us and sing the songs over and over again. But then I started listening to it and I realized--hey, this is good music. And then, a little bit later, I had the revelation that the people in The Partridge Family were the gods and goddesses you read about in school. They've been around since the beginning of time, but they had different names in different ages. And in 1970 they decided, `Hey, let's get a hit TV show.'"

"After that, Keith spoke to us and said, `I am your Lord--worship me,'" Reverend Dan goes on. "And for a couple of weeks I said yes, and I was teaching everybody about the beauty of the Partridge Family. But then I started doubting it. But then I had another experience: I was in a car accident and I was drowning in a giant pool of blood, and Laurie pulled me out of the pool of blood with her hands and gave me a French kiss, and it brought me back to life. I didn't doubt anymore after that."

In short order, Shaun and Reverend Dan envisioned the theological roles of the actors in The Partridge Family, who, according to the Reverend, "are not gods. They're human incarnations, but they're still very holy."

"Keith is the War God," Shaun says.
The Reverend interjects. "He's also the male sex god, because if you read his autobiography, you read about how big his penis is."

Shaun: "He also talks about getting it on with Laurie, his sister."
"Yeah," Reverend Dan says. "And he did it with Meredith Baxter-Birney, back when she was just Meredith Baxter. And that Italian actress--Gina Lollobrigida? When she saw his penis, she said, `Wow, I heard you had a monster, and it's true.' Or something like that. He is just the sex god."

What about Shirley?
"Shirley is the Virgin Mother," Reverend Dan explains as he watches a diver leap from the nearby waterfall into the pool below. "The Earth Goddess. That's why there's no father on the show--because she's a virgin, and a lot of people couldn't handle it at the time. They never mentioned the father's name on the show, they never showed a picture of him, they never went to his grave. Basically, he didn't exist."

And Laurie?
"She's the Holy Whore of Babylon. The eternal good-time girl." Honey, Shaun notes, represents Laurie's vaginal fluids in rituals Temple members perform; milk stands in for Keith's sperm, while 7-Up is consumed because, Giddle declares, "it's Keith's favorite soft drink."

"And do you know who Bobby Sherman is?" Shaun asks in reference to the singer/ actor who's best remembered for the 1970 smash single "Julie, Do Ya Love Me." "He's Death. He's the flip side of Keith."

"Bobby Sherman had his own spinoff show from The Partridge Family," Boyd offers. "It was called Getting Together."

"And on that show, they drove around in a hearse," Shaun says. "That's why he's Death. And Danny is Loki, the trickster god. The god of fun. He's probably here now."

"I talked to Danny on his radio show once," Reverend Dan recalls (Danny Bonaduce works as a DJ in Chicago; his producer said he was "too swamped" to comment for this article). "I told him all about the Temple and everything, and he said, `I have one word for you: rehab.' I guess he's into all that now."

Indeed, press reports have suggested that Bonaduce has cleaned up his act following some notorious run-ins with the law. While in Arizona in the early Nineties, he beat up a transvestite prostitute; later, drug charges were leveled against him.

"That was all part of his trickster trip," the Reverend insists. "We freed him from all that--we're responsible for him not going to jail. We rallied behind him, we prayed, we made up stickers that said `Free Danny Partridge.' We did all kinds of things. And that was all it took."

Danny's aura permeates many of the Temple's doctrines, while ancillary characters like Chris and Tracy Partridge, manager Reuben Kinkaid (Dave Madden) and Simone, the family dog, fulfill lesser functions.

"Chris and Tracy are the innocents, the pure innocents," Reverend Dan says about the characters who were ages 5 and 7 when The Partridge Family first aired.

"They made all the trees and the flowers," Shaun concurs.
The Reverend: "Chris also represents Duality, because two actors played him. They probably had this whole weird thing going on. And Reuben is the mediator between the gods and the people. If you ever wondered why Danny had red hair and nobody else did, it's because Shirley and Reuben Kinkaid and the dog all had this wild orgy, and from that, they gave birth to Danny. That's the trickster part--Danny is part god, from Shirley, part human, from Reuben, and part subhuman, from the dog."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts