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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."

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).

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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