I attended the book signing with Tammy Faye Messner at Current Affairs Bookstore. She spoke for a half-hour or so, and then signed books. She is a wee little thing, as you might imagine, but you get a better impression of her size in person. She just finished filming of The Surreal Life 2," along with Ron Jeremy and Vanilla Ice, among others. Tammy Faye answered questions on a variety of topics, including her health, the PTL scandal, her following in the gay community, and The Surreal Life 2 (why hasn't the first version made it to DVD yet?). No matter the topic, she always effused the positivity and joy that has gotten her through so much hardship in the past, and which makes her both so inspirational and so completely vulnerable to mockery. She repeated the parable she tells about how she got over hating Jerry Falwell, explaining that in olden times, if you murdered someone, they strapped the corpse to you, and that corpse, weighing you down and festering on your back, would eventually kill you. She did add that she had it particularly bad, as her corpse was 250 pounds. In a question about The Surreal Life, one person mentioned how M.C. Hammer's role in the first series turned out to be an unusual pulpit which Hammer put to good use. When asked if she had any similar opportunities, she nodded energetically, but wouldn't comment beyond saying, "You'll have to watch."
After she had spoken for a half-hour or so, she took her seat inside, and we lined up to get her autograph. Even though we ended up near the end of the line, it didn't seem like too long a wait. My mom got her copy signed for Michelle, for a Christmas present, and got her photo taken with her. Then it was my turn to get my book signed, give her a hug, and get my picture taken. Meeting her, you realize just what a nice person she is, a little bundle of positivity. You can't help liking her. I, like most people, had written off Tammy Faye as nothing more than a tired punch-line, but after seeing The Eyes of Tammy Faye, one of the best documentaries I've seen in recent years, I realized that it was more complicated than that. Her husband was a crook, I believe, no matter what she says; but you have to appreciate the fact that she herself believes in his innocence with all her heart. And yes, its hard not to make fun of her, but she understands that, and on some level is in on the joke, too. It is odd, though, that I can go to an event like this, as a non-believer looking for a laugh, and get that laugh, and yet find the whole thing inspirational on some level, too.