When I was invited to participate in this week's blogathon celebration of Pam Grier Week by Darius Whiteplume of Adventures in Nerdliness and Dirty & Nerdy and Mr. Canacorn of the hella-aptly-named Awesomeness for Awesome's Sake, I leapt at the opportunity. From the time I encountered Ms. Grier's films as an adolescent girl, something about the women of action that she played spoke to me on a visceral level. Did I want to be this tough-talking glamazon, or did I want to do her? Age has taught me that the answer to this question is yes, but that's not the point I'm here to make. I'm dancing around the fact that, for me, talking about what makes Pam Grier so special is a damned daunting undertaking. It's important to do JUSTICE to someone so fabulous!"Foxy Brown" and "Coffy," both directed by the incredible American exploitation filmmaker Jack Hill*. These roles balance a street-wise confidence with vulnerability and a desire to be loved and allow Grier to emote in a variety of extreme situations. Her performances in these films range from high camp to heartbreaking with plentiful ass-kicking in between. What Grier lacks as a nuanced thespian, she more than makes up for in charisma--her eyes can blaze with what feels like authentic passion, and her body language is larger than life whether attempting to seduce or threaten (or engage in some unspeakably alluring combination of the two). The fact that her characters are strong women who are inspired into action by their own sense of moral rightness puts forth a powerful message. Unlike the protagonists in many other revenge films, Foxy and Coffy are out to right what are actually societal wrongs, not personal ones. They're action heroes of the first degree, and I find myself rooting for them as they use their intelligence, strength and beauty to their advantage.
And what beauty! My god--Pam Grier has one of the most exquisite profiles I have ever seen on a human female. She's distinguished and yet supremely feminine, with features that scream of plush sexuality. I never had trouble believing that Pam Grier's characters could sashay into a room and instantly capture the undivided attention of whoever her fortunate/unfortunate target might be.
I just want to throw myself at her feet and beg her to teach me her womanly wisdom (yes, also If You Know What I Mean, you friggin' perverts). In a perfect world, Pam Grier is my sensei and I am led through a series of grueling but ultimately rewarding tasks that leave me tougher, more beautiful and more capable than when I first came under her tutelage. You know--the womanly equivalent of balancing on logs or fighting blindfolded from the old school Shaolin movies.
I love living in a world that has Pam Grier in it. Wherever you are, I'm raising a toast to you, Ms. Grier, you fantastic force for female fierceness.
*I had the great honor of sharing an airport shuttle with Mr. Hill in Cleveland at Cinema Wasteland last year, a memory that I hold very dear indeed since my yardstick of fame is calibrated quite differently from that of the rest of the world.