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Keeping Camp Alive 

New Year's Blowout on the SS Poseidon

Wednesday, Dec 27 2000
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Girl, it's time to get out the Aqua Net, that fierce feather boa, and the hottest pair of hot pants hiding in your closet (oh come on now, you know you have a pair), cuz the hostess with the mostest, the "glampressario of the Castro," Marc Huestis, is up to his old tricks again with the biggest camp movie extravaganza of the year, the "New Year's Blowout on the SS Poseidon."

Before Leo and Kate were even born, there was The Poseidon Adventure -- directed by Ronald Neame -- the "crown jewel" of Irwin Allen's classic disaster flicks and the biggest moneymaker of 1972. In this sinking ship extravaganza, the shit hits the fan during a New Year's Eve gala aboard the Poseidon, a gigantic luxury liner on its final journey before being dismantled. After a flood of tidal waves capsizes the cruise ship, a motley crew of survivors is left to wade through the wreckage and formulate an escape plan. As with most films of the disaster genre, the dialogue is cheesy, the action staged, and the plot simplistic. But what separates this movie from the rest is the star-studded cast -- Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Leslie Nielsen, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, and Stella Stevens (Lynley and Stevens appear live at the Castro event) -- whose earnest portrayals of the likable characters undoubtedly helped the film earn eight Oscar nominations.

Filled with flashy special effects, marvelous fashions, melodramatic screen deaths, and some of the campiest moments in movie history (picture a fleshy Winters diving underwater to save Hackman), the film is perfect for this five-year anniversary of Huestis' Ziegfeld-esque variety shows and old movie revivals. A beloved local fixture, the shindigs are almost always a sellout and a cinephile's dream. Screenings of camp classics such as Valley of the Dolls and A Summer Beach Party get amplified with live celebrity appearances and interviews typically hosted by the nattiest film critic of them all, Jan Wahl. Huestis' most memorable events have included dysfunctional holiday nights -- a specialty of the self-proclaimed "holiday-hater" -- including a "John Waters X-Mas" and "Christmas With Christina Crawford" of Mommie Dearest notoriety.

Of course, as with most of these events, a parade of drag queens will sashay through the Castro dressed as their favorite characters from the featured pic. As the ever-gracious Carol Lynley quips, "I saw myself go by about a hundred times," referring to the last Poseidon screening she attended at the Castro. This time Lynley, who played the young singer Nonnie Parry, is reunited with Stella Stevens, who played Linda Rogo, Borgnine's ex-prostitute wife. Watch for an outrageous performance by the Synchronized Swimming Shelleys, a group of super-fabulous drag queens that includes Trannyshack's Heklina and Philip R. Ford as the main Shelley.

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Lisa Hom

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