For its 20th anniversary, we look back at the first-ever film to premiere on the internet
Twenty years ago this week, we were introduced to one of our favourite party girls with a knack for ethnic eats (OK, falafel), of all time. Just as fresh today as it was when it debuted on the WWW, Party Girl stands the test of time through its look at how to take control of your own life.
In case you missed it, free spirit Mary (played by Parker Posey) illegally charges entry to an underground rave, before getting busted by the cops and bailed out by her godmother Judy. To pay her back for the IOU, Judy employs Mary as a clerk at the library where she works. Initially, Mary thinks her social life will have to be shelved alongside the books, but she soon learns how to make the most of her situation.
It’s a film that testifies to a certain place and time for every 20-something. Famous drag queen Lady Bunny makes a cameo – and that's just the tip of the iceberg with this cult classic. Here, we sift through the film’s secret history to see how it solidified its top-tiered spot in the party film hall of fame.
THE FILM WAS THE FIRST TO PREMIERE ON THE INTERNET
1995. Email was just becoming a household term and e-jokes were omnipresent. In a year when the internet was just becoming a virtual landscape accessible to anyone lucky enough to have a dial-up connection, Party Girl was to be the first feature film ever broadcasted online. It was June 3, 1995. NBC Sunday Night News broke the news of this cult film’s innovative debut. So chill.com.
Parker Posey had the pleasure of introducing the film’s premiere. Glenn Fleishman, whose company helped launch the film, said: “It broadcast to several hundred people worldwide over a CU-SeeMe reflector at Point of Presence Company's offices in downtown and then (in) a few minutes, it was projected at The Egyptian in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Parker Posey was in our offices to hit the start button on the broadcast.”
IT INSPIRED A TV SHOW THAT WAS SCRAPPED AFTER FOUR EPISODES
Party Girl, though heralded for its off-beat brand of comedy and Posey’s portrayal of a cute librarian, didn’t necessarily translate to FOX so well the following year. There were six episodes in total, only four of which were aired. Christine Taylor replaced Posey as the lead character, but audiences didn’t buy it. LBR, you can’t top Parker Posey.
This is the introduction to the 1996 television show. It looks more like consumer heaven (almost Clueless?) with less bite and more show-and-tell, as if the trending time got way ahead of itself.
IT'S A COMING-OF-AGE STORY THAT NAILS THE REALITY OF BEING A 20-SOMETHING
Mary’s librarian position turns out to be something of a catalyst for her, as she initially dreads the prospect of getting a career. Later, she develops a passion for what she’s doing and accepts the reality of growing up.
The dancing sequence in the library is beyond memorable. Mary is a definitive example of what awkward sense we make out of our early 20s. She’s a young party girl who lives for the moment and is managing to make ends meet, all while embracing her own persona and identity. But, beware, she doesn’t want to end up like Rene, the tired queen of nightlife in the film that’s not necessarily Mary’s definition of fabulous. Mary thinks she knows what she wants, until life hits her unexpectedly.
THE FILM ONLY GROSSED $472,000, BUT NOW ENJOYS A LOYAL CULT FOLLOWING
Since it came to define a generation of entitled library-working teens, there have been multiple midnight screenings of Party Girl to introduce it to new audiences, ensuring it gets quoted as often as Amy Heckerling’s Clueless. Unlike Clueless, which grossed a whopping $56 million, Party Girl grossed only $472,000. That’s not to say it was never recognised. The film was a smash at Sundance, in competition for dramatic feature. Plus, the soundtrack featured Deee-Lite, Tom Tom Club, Run DMC and Chanelle. It’s a time capsule in every sense.