This weekend I had the honor to travel to Colorado to attend the opening festivities of the new Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton (just outside Denver). My role in the event was beyond my wildest dreams: I got to host "An Evening With Pam Grier," a 90 minute talk with Foxy Brown herself. At the end of the event I personally inducted Miss Grier into the Badass Hall of Fame, presenting her with a commemorative pint glass available only that night at that theater.
Grier is a force of nature. We talked for 90 solid minutes and she never even cracked open the water bottle provided for her. You'd think that 90 minutes would have allowed us to cover every aspect of her career, but by the end I had to skip through almost a whole decade of her life to get to Jackie Brown, the Quentin Tarantino movie that redefined her for a new generation. At one point Pam came out of her seat, re-enacting the process of auditioning for the role of a junkie hooker in Fort Apache The Bronx - a process that had her straddling me in my chair and feeling me up. She turned to the audience and asked if she should, and thankfully the local crowd of saints and heroes collectively cried yes.
Pam's a masterful storyteller. She could take the audience from the edge of tears as she described horrific sexual attacks she's suffered right up to huge laughter as she explained the difficulties of 'pleasing' ex-boyfriend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, whose seven foot height is apparently reflected in all his bodily proportions. I barely needed to be on stage - the simplest mention of filming The Arena in Italy sent Pam on a long, hilarious and spirited telling of the time she accidentally met Federico Fellini on set and taught him how to make fried chicken (using squab, aka pigeon, the only fowl in the Cinecitta Studio commissary). Pam's been working to get her memoir, Foxy, made into a movie, but I really think she needs to do a one-woman show where she just gets up on stage and brings it all for the audience.
I'll go into this more in the official Hall of Fame post, but one of the most amazing things about talking to Pam Grier is the sheer amount of inspiration she offers. She came up in a world where buses didn't stop for black people, where women were treated as objects at best, and rather than helplessly complain she stood up and kicked down doors. The doors that Pam Grier kicked down have been so influential that we almost don't remember what it was like to have them closed, what it was like to have a female action star still be a startling sight. And Pam has continued kicking down those doors to the modern day; her latest big work was on Showtime's The L Word, which approached gender and sexuality issues in ways that few mainstream entertainments ever have.
After the Q&A Pam and I had a toast (she enjoyed a chocolate stout, I had an IPA) with the special edition pint glasses.
After the toast, Pam stayed about an extra hour to meet and greet with fans, including one girl who was on the verge of tears, shaking, telling Pam what an inspiration she had been for her. That was an incredible moment.
This was the first event of its kind, but it won't be the last. Hopefully we'll have more opportunities to induct Badasses into the Hall of Fame in person in the future, especially at upcoming Alamo Drafthouse openings.