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03 May 2013

Buckle Up: Pam Ann Steers Her Flight to the McCallum Theatre

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Touch the trolley! Touch the trolley!

I was shocked when lunatic flight purser Pam Ann told me she was flying to the West Coast for her gig at the McCallum Theatre on JetBlue—which has no first-class seating.

And then she said something even more shocking.

“I like flying JetBlue!” she said. “It’s a daytime trip. I watch the telly.”

Turns out I was speaking not to Pam Ann, but Caroline Reid, the Australian comedienne who performs as the profane, elitist, racist and hilarious flight attendant. Pam Ann—who would not be caught dead on a plane outside of first class—will be performing at the McCallum on Friday, May 10.

If you’ve never seen a Pam Ann show, well, picture this: The theater is an airplane flight, and Pam Ann is your flight attendant. After the perfunctory safety video (which, in this case, is anything but perfunctory), Pam Ann emerges in a ridiculously flashy outfit, with her beverage trolley in tow. She then proceeds to abuse the airline industry, the audience and herself (Is that a gigantic pile of cocaine?!) for the duration.

And if, god help you, you’re seated in one of the first couple of rows (aka first class), wear your most-expensive brand-label clothing, lest you get banished to the back of the plane, um, theater. Needless to say, the kids should skip the show (and, for that matter, the rest of this interview).

For those who have seen Pam Ann perform, Reid said to expect some new touches—new safety videos, for example. And she’s “amped up the trolley,” she added.

Of course, attendees can also expect topical references to the airline world’s latest mishaps. Reid noted that Pam Ann is “not afraid to offend a few people,” and mentioned the horrifying U.S. cargo-plane crash in Afghanistan. The April 29 crash—which was caught on a dashboard-camera video by a nearby motorist—killed seven National Air Cargo employees when the Boeing 747 tumbled out of the sky shortly after takeoff.

“The pretty pictures on the safety card aren’t going to pan out, when you look at that video,” Reid noted. “Instead, you’re going to get five seconds of sheer terror. I don’t like takeoff, because I know too much about it.”

While Reid and Pam Ann are fairly well-known in Australia (where she had her own TV show) and Europe, she is not all that famous in the United States outside of the gay community. She said she’s hoping this summer’s U.S. tour will change some of that.

“I’m building my brand and career here. It’s tough,” she said, noting that she recently got her green card and has been living in New York City since 2009.

Her ultimate goal here, she said, is to get a Pam Ann movie off the ground. She described it as a melding of Austin Powers, 1970s disaster films, Absolutely Fabulous and The Hangover.

She described the film’s first moments as a “scene out of my life.”

“It’s Pam Ann getting fucked by two black immigration officers in a hotel room,” she said.

Reid said she’s looking forward to her return to the Palm Springs area.

“To me, it’s where Pam Ann would have her headquarters,” she said. “I love the architecture. It’s so retro to me. Plus there’s that whole Sonny Bono connection.”

Of course, Pam Ann loves her gays (not that she really loves anyone). Reid said she’s always had a connection to gay men and transgendered people, for some reason. (She’s often mistaken herself for a man in drag, she said. Looking at Pam Ann’s outfits, this makes sense.)

“Palm Springs is one of the gayest places I’ve ever been,” she said. “But it’s a different gay. It’s older and wiser. You clink the crystal a little bit more. You’re puffing the cushions up a little bit more. I am seeing a lot of white linen.”

Of course, the McCallum Theatre is not in Palm Springs; it’s in Palm Desert, and is known for attracting a variety of audiences from around the Coachella Valley. (And a large variety, it is: Pollstar ranked the McCallum as the top theater in all of California, and 13th in the world, in terms of ticket sales during the first quarter of 2013.)

So will Pam Ann change her show at the McCallum—a theater known for a wide variety of shows, including Broadway musicals—to account for the fact that not all of her audience will be made of up of Palm Springs gays?

“I’m going to put some cats in it, and I’ll call it Pam Ann Cats,” Reid joked.

In other words, don’t count on it.

Pam Ann performs at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert, at 8 p.m., Friday, May 10. Tickets are $45 to $65. For more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

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