Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here's the Story

I was a huge Brady Bunch fan-geek. Huge. In addition to the regular sitcom series, I also loved the animated "Brady Kids" series. I even loved the short-lived Brady Bunch Variety Hour, which featured the Brady family singing such classic disco hits as "Shake Shake Shake" by KC and the Sunshine Band and "Car Wash" by Rose Royce.

"In the 80's," when I moved into a new apartment with Disney Roommate Ben, we threw a Brady Bunch house warming party. Disney coworkers came dressed as Cindy, Greg, Carol, Jan, and Marcia, and even Alice. Ben and I dressed as the Silver Platters, in our own homemade version of the blue and white costumes that the Brady Kids wore when they first sang and danced on T.V. ("We're gonna keep on - keep on - keep on - keep on dancin' all through the night!")

We gave out prizes for the best costumes. Julie won for being dressed up as "Aunt Ginny," Imogene Coca's character (the one that looked exactly like Jan when she was a girl). Wendy was given a prize for showing up as "Bebe Gallini," the cosmetics CEO all dressed in pink, as portrayed by Abbe Lane.

Linda's boyfriend won for the Most Obscure Brady character, "Phil Packer," by simply donning a fake mustache. My fellow Brady-philes may recall the episode when Peter wore a fake mustache so that he could look older and go on a double date with Greg.

Everyone knew how geeked-out I was for the whole Brady revival. When the tour of the Real Live Brady Bunch stage show was scheduled to come to Los Angeles, I had four different friends offer to take me for my birthday. Four offers! Instead of buying my tickets the second they became available, I sat back and gleefully anticipated the different episodes I might get to see acted out on stage, including "Getting Davey Jones."

I did not end up attending a single performance. I had foolishly counted on my friends to come through - at least one out of the four, even, it didn't matter which one - for what was surely to be one of the most important and memorable entertainment events of my life.

As if to make up for this grave and regrettable injustice, I was asked a few years later if I was available to do background work as a dancer for the Brady Bunch Movie (thanks, Peggy Hickey!). It was for the dance-in-the-gym scene. How thrilling to be able to see up close and in person the actors portraying Marcia and Greg! You can even spot me behind "the new Jan Brady" when she comes out of the restroom, proudly sporting her big, black afro wig.

I have to credit the Brady Bunch as one of my influences for wanting to become a performer, at least, partially. I will usually list the All New Mickey Mouse Club and Fame among my first influences, as well as Dick Van Dyke. But the Brady Kids showed me that everyday suburban kids could become singers and dancers, too.

"How did they end up getting in the recording studio?" I had asked my dad. "How did they get the music that they're singing to?"

"Well, Greg wrote the music and the studio musicians recorded it before the Brady kids went in to record the vocals," my dad replied, his tone mock serious.

It was as simple as that. But at 10-years-old, even I didn't believe it was that easy, much as I may have wanted to believe that that's the way reality works.

Still, I was a committed fan. I watched the repeat episodes so many times that I had memorized the order in which they appeared. I knew which episodes came before the ones that they sang on, so that I could prepare my dad's reel-to-reel tape recorder to capture my very own recording of their songs. I had to - a trip to Thrifty's in 1976 had not resulted in owning a vinyl record of the Brady Kids songs as I had hoped.

I finally got the songs on CD in the early nineties, a CD which I still have today. As a true Brady fan, though, I was disappointed that the CD did not include "Good Time Music," as sung in the last of the three episodes that featured the Brady Kids singing.

Luckily for me, that was one of the songs sung by the fake Brady Kids of the 90's in "A Very Brady Sequel." Sing it with me, now:

Let me hear some of that good time music that I love to hear
I've got plenty of blues and sort of bad news and I need to find me some cheer

There's no sense in walking around with your feet stuck to the ground
It's much better to put yourself together
Create a lot of love and good vibes for humanity - that's fine with me!


Quin Browne said...

you know... i love you more and more.


Peter Varvel said...

Right back atcha', Quin.
For realz,

Anonymous said...

I was at that party! I went as George Glass! Didn't you see me?

What? You didn't see me? Nobody could see me?

Well that only means my costume was perfect.

I'm enjoying your blog.

"I am a little sunflower
Sunny, brave, and true.
From tiny bud to blossom,
I do good deeds for you."

Peter Varvel said...

You woulda' won a prize, too, had we known you were there . . .
VERY IMPRESSIVE! I bow before your Brady Trivia Power!
Thanks for visiting!