Gidget Goes Psychotic
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After each performance at the Limbo Lounge, I’d make a curtain speech graciously imploring the audience to sign our mailing list. To make my pitch more entertaining, I’d improvise the titles of future plays they might see. One night, the title Gidget Goes Psychotic popped into my feverish brain. It got a big laugh and I used it as the punch line of my curtain speech for quite some time. Eventually, Ken said, “You know we’ve been promoting this play for years. Maybe we should do a show called Gidget Goes Psychotic. Initially, it didn’t appeal to me at all. I found no glamour or fake grandeur in the Frankie and Annette beach party movies or in the film and television series Gidget. The shows I was writing for Theatre-in-Limbo were built on fantasies of who I’d like to play. A Byzantine empress, yes, a teenage surfer girl -- I don’t think so. Then it occurred to me that if Gidget were indeed psychotic, perhaps that would manifest itself in multiple personalities. These other selves, particularly her main alter ego, the dominatrix Ann Bowman, would give me the flamboyant acting opportunities I sought.
We originally performed Gidget Goes Psychotic as late shows at the Limbo Lounge while we were performing a full eight show a week schedule of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom at the Provincetown Playhouse. As soon as the curtain came down on Macdougal Street, we’d jump into cabs and race across town. Our audience would be waiting outside the club before we got there. It was exhausting but exhilarating. The response was so overwhelming that we decided to transfer that play Off-Broadway as well.
There was some concern that there could be copyright problems with the title Gidget Goes Psychotic and that I should think of an alternate. Frankly, I was glad to re-title it Psycho Beach Party. What had begun as strictly a spoof of a specific movie and TV series had become a very personal piece of writing. I don’t imagine I’m alone in having experienced as a young person a feeling of being a different person in each facet of my life. My heroine, Chicklet, learns that each of the various roles she plays in life are all part of one being, and that they only make her stronger. It was fascinating for me to realize that all creative writing is “personal.” The campiest theatrical spoof full of movie references could be a revealing self-portrait that others might identify with.
New York Native
Other Plays by Charles
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Auntie Mame Little Me The Maids
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