At one point in time, Natasha Lyonne was a cult icon that did quirky, low budget indie films. Then, something strange happened. A little TV show about life in a women’s prison became one of the most popular shows on TV, bringing Lyonne up from cult icon to bonafide star. Sketchfest, by some force of magic, was able to get this big star to come to SF and slum it with us for an evening, discussing a film that’s nearly 20 years old.
Before we were treated to the film, however, we were treated to a preshow, curated by San Francisco legend, Peaches Christ. And, with Peaches Christ in the room, it’s hardly a traditional night at the movies.
First we were treated to a performance by Cheer SF. Who are Cheer SF? They are a local troupe of grown up cheerleaders that raise money for charitable organizations. They warmed us up with some impressive cheerleading, doing some impressive feats on the stage at The Castro.
Next up, we got Christ’s team of drag performers paying tribute to the film we were about to enjoy. They recasted the film with Christ playing Lyonne’s role, only reversing the story, trying to cure Christ of her “heterosexuality.” It was super silly, although the humor was lost on the handful of people that had the pleasure of seeing the movie for the first time. Which there were surprisingly many of in the crowd.
Just before the movie, we experienced one last bit of preshow. The great Natasha Lyonne was interviewed on stage by Peaches Christ. Looking gorgeous in a floral skirt and black sweater, she eloquently approached the stage, and gently sat in a director’s chair set out for her. As she sat down, the chair collapsed beneath her, and she fell straight to the floor. She picked herself up, grabbed her mic, and went straight into the interview without skipping a beat. Lyonne is a professional.
The interview went swimmingly. Lyonne discussed her movie All About Evil, directed by Christ. She fielded dozens of questions about Orange Is The New Black. She brought out Samira Wiley (Poussey) to even more cheers than Lyonne got. This was definitely an Orange crowd, not a Cheerleader crowd. Although I do love Orange, I came because I believe that But I’m A Cheerleader is one of the greatest films of the 90’s. So, when filmmaker Jamie Babbitt came out to actually discuss the film, I was at rapt attention. They discussed the process of making the film, Lyonne’s audition (which Lyonne has no memory of), the wig, etc. They told secrets about the film, like Cathy Moriarty kept a clipboard in nearly every scene because she couldn’t remember her lines. It was good fun! They even revealed that a new Babbit/Lyonne film is coming out later this year called Fresno.
It was all great fun. The audience was having a ball! And then the film started. And, as the lights went down, several people from the crowd got up. It was very disappointing. Then, 10 minutes into the film, a woman stood up, yelled out “I’m Bored!” She then went to Lyonne and told her “I love you, but this movie is boring.” And then walked out. Some people can be terrible people. However, everyone else that was in the room was treated to a rare viewing on the big screen of one of the most touching and whimsical romantic comedies ever made. The people who stayed, of course, laughed and cried. It was a pure joy to get to experience this movie the way it was meant to.