Tuesday, 10 November 2009

319: W.K.R.P. in Cincinnati 1981

“W.K.R.P. in Cincinnati”
18 November 1981
"Three Days Of The Condo", written by Lissa Levin

Here we reach the point that gay stereotypes can be used for the express purpose of discomforting bigots. So we get Johnny Fever camping it up with gusto to shrieks from the audience. I think the audience’s enjoyment stems equally from provoking the staid, uptight condo committee and from the nelly posturing and exaggerated inter-racial romantic affections of Johnny.

Hesseman had played a gay character several times on the sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show” in the later ‘70s, but I haven’t seen it so can’t compare.

The third episode of the first season of WKRP had a gay-themed episode in 1978. When a local athlete overhears other reporters refer to Les as a "Queer Little Guy" (because of his lack of knowledge about sports and his strange behaviour), Les gets banned from the locker room at the stadium for being gay. Whether true or not, the rumours prompt the permanently uptight Les to contemplate suicide by jumping off the building. They eventually get Les to talk to the player by phone and the matter is straightened out. The line "Les, it's okay if you're a homo." was redubbed in syndication as "Les, it's okay if you're gay."


Howard Hesseman (Johnny "Fever" Caravella)
Tim Reid (Gordon "Venus Flytrap" Sims)
Richard Sanders (Les Nessman)
Weldon Boyce Bleiler (Mr. Waynwright)
Constance Pfeifer (Ms. Archer)

Johnny receives a settlement cheque of $24,000. Johnny starts spending his money recklessly until Venus convinces him to invest in a condominium at "Gone With The Wind Estates". When Johnny begins to feel confined due to all the rules, he tries to pull out of his investment. Johnny and Vegas speak to the condominium committee. When Johnny can't get out of the contract, he threatens to throw loud, wild parties "night, after night, after night" until the contract is released. The female condo committee head responds that she will just have Johnny arrested, "...night after night after night, until you learn to behave yourself like a good little 'Gone-with the-Wind-er'."
In Johnny’s empty apartment. Mr Waynwright and Ms Archer sat down facing Johnny and Venus. Johnny sat in one chair. Venus stood up

V: I mean, there’s gotta be something we can do here. I mean, let’s see here. (confidentially, nudging J on shoulder) Johnny, can you think of anything?

(long pause. V still tapping J slightly on shoulders, to encourage him to do or say something.

J: No….ah…

(but J looks up as V walks away to far end of room)

J: (matter of factly) But, I think it’s time we started telling the truth, Venus

V: (turning around) It is?

J: Yes it is. (gets up) Now Lord knows, I Do want to be a good “Gone-with-the-Wind-er”. (walks across to V) It’s Venus here that’s really unhappy.

(Since V is stood on higher part of flooring, J is slightly beneath V, turns around to gesture at V with one slightly limp hand)

J: And that is his first name – Venus. Just like the Goddess of love and beauty.

(J clasps his hands together. Simpers slightly. Looks up at V from lidded, slightly fluttery eyes)

J: (adopting a camper tone) Cross my heart, Vene, once we move in here together, you’re going to come to Love it.

(J steps up to V, and puts one hand on nearest shoulder and other hand around V’s nearest arm. V is now very uncomfortable and remains so for the rest of this scene)

J: Just think of all the things we can do with Textures?

(J moves hand on V’s nearest shoulder to farthest shoulder)

J: Hm, hm? Remember those darling little wall-hangings we saw in that shop off Decker Street? They were to die, Vene, just to DIE! What do you say?

(J moves hand on V’s farthest shoulder to top of farthest arm and cuddles/shakes/rocks V slightly)

J: Just loosen up, hm, how ‘bout it?

V: Errrrr-hah

J: (to W and A) It’s that old South thing that’s got him upset. You know, the slavery bugaboo, and that is just So Silly.

(suddenly takes V by the hand and pulls him back to chairs. V sits embarrassed, with hands clasped in lap. J talks with a lot of swishy gestures of one hand)

J: Now we’ll blend right in here. We’ll just go to all the parties. We’ll get to know our neighbours.
(rests hand on V’s shoulder and leans into him)

J: We’ll enjoy the pool, and the sauna.

J: (to W and A) We will practically LIVE in the sauna. Think about it Vene? We can take long strolls through “Frankly My Dear Park”, hm?

(sits down on chair next to V)

J: We can have Mr Wainwright and Miss Archer over for some of your scampi, wouldn’t that be fun?
(now has one hand on V’s nearest shoulder and other on V’s lower arm)

J: So how ‘bout it, you two? What do you say?

(with his hands fluttering apart to punctuate each key word)

J: Let’s just forget about all this terrible Business and just LIVE and create, and just BE?

(W and A look awkwardly at each other)

J: He’ll be alright, I’ll talk to him.

(J puts hand on V’s, crosses his legs, and looks knowingly at V)

(shot of uncomfortable W and A.)

(Cuts to WKRP office. V is now recounting with great humour the events just)

V: And then I swear he reached over and gave me a peck on the cheek

Les: Yuck!

Herb: You didn’t tell ‘em you very from KRP, did ya? They are clients of mine, you know.

V: No. But I did tell them I knew you very well (puckers his lips at him) We went over to the office and tore up the contracts. Fever was completely out of control. (aping camp enthusiasm with arms half thrown up in air with lip hands) He was ‘Liza Minnelli’ this and ‘Liza Minnelli’ that!

J comes in through closed door

V: Well there you are, you dusky devil! (slumps against door frame)

End of scene

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