First of all, that was no fake cock. “The bullets are blank and the penis is prosthetic,” said Evi Quaid, in a brief introduction to her work-in-progress, the “avant garde cash-cow docudrama” Star Whackers. Yes, the bullets weren’t real, but the swinging member was all Randy Quaid.
Readers might wonder, as did the enormously excited audience that turned out for An Evening With the Quaids at the RIO Theatre on Good Friday, exactly what the Quaids mean by “avant garde cash-cow docudrama”. In this case, it means the super-low-budget spectacle of an occasionally great Hollywood actor being pursued by a hitman (also Quaid) through a craggy Texan landscape reciting Shakespeare—with his wang out.
If you squinted your eyes and knocked back at least three PBRs, it came off like student Alejandro Jodorowsky, mingled with an acid western by Crispin Glover, injected into Bring Me the Head of Randy Quaid. The Shakespearean parts, including bits of Julius Caesar, Henry VI Part 3, Richard III, and Hamlet, were delivered rather beautifully by the film’s star, even as he was simultaneously shoving a wig between his ass cheeks in an early scene. But this most tolerant of crowds was eventually booing the fifth or sixth consecutive and increasingly bug-eyed rendition of “To be or not to be,” delivered in such extreme close-up that you could almost taste the viscous white spittle on Quaid’s beard.
Anyone looking for insight into the couple’s juicy real-life tale of extortion, conspiracy, and murder, meanwhile, was left empty-handed. So much for the “docu” part of “docudrama”. It hardly makes for a lucid account of things to strap a deer skull to Randy’s head and have him intone, “Quaid the American male human is retarded. We intend to keep him that way,” although it is sort of entertaining in a midnight, cinema-of-cruelty type way. The same goes for scenes of the hitman trying to extract information on Quaid’s whereabouts from various donkeys, or playing target practice with a picture of Quaid at his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.
A rowdy and fractious Q&A followed four songs by Quaid’s band the Fugitives (they played “Star Whackers” twice), and we were cautioned that the couple would answer only “cool” questions. One unimpressed viewer stated, “I believed I was going to see a documentary; I would like to hear some facts,” and then upbraided the couple for exploiting Heath Ledger’s death. “Please be honest next time,” she said, before striding out of the theatre. This, naturally, was considered “uncool”, as was another punter’s inquiry, “Why would you think you’re safe in Canada?”
So what we really got from an Evening with the Quaids was a dodge. Talking about the disastrous musical in Seattle that precipitated their troubles, Randy muttered, “I think the producers had the insurance scam running on that one. I got a lot of flak from those assholes.” But, typically, there was nothing to support this hard-boiled scenario, and any further probing would have doubtless been “uncool”.
The shame of it – going out on a limb, here – is that the Quaids’ story of extortion is hardly implausible. Tinseltown is a fucking gilded sewer to anybody with eyes to see and a copy of Indecent Exposure and Hollywood Babylon. The media has also behaved disgracefully throughout the entire thing. Even if the couple is simply crazy, why is RadarOnline and its ilk so vicious and tasteless about it? Shouldn’t this raise questions about the relationship between Hollywood’s power structure and the gossip industry?
The Quaids are also to be applauded for donating the night’s proceeds to the Canadian Council for Refugees, Randy was a cheerful presence on stage, and he will always be a fine actor. But it was a tawdry night, and the whole saga is starting to look like a Joaquin Phoenix-sized put-on, at best. Some of us came looking for answers. But, to paraphrase Evi, there was no smoking gun. Just blanks.