An Evening with Pam Grier in Kansas City

When I first heard that Pam Grier would be in town for the Kansas City Comic Con, my immediate thought was, “Please let the Drafthouse jump on this”. Thankfully my plea was heard and answered, and last night I had the great pleasure of attending An Evening With Pam Grier, presented by The Alamo Drafthouse, in cooperation with Kansas City Comic Con and Elite Comics. The evening consisted of a Q&A session with Pam followed by a screening of Jackie Brown. Commemorative posters by artist Rob Schamberger were made available for purchase.

Cinapse readers who are familiar with our output will certainly not be surprised by my enthusiasm. As a fan of blaxploitation cinema and Grier in particular, I’ve recently shared my undying love for Grier and her avatar of female empowerment in reviews of Jack Hill’s Coffy and Foxy Brown, and Arthur Marks’ Friday Foster.

The audience immediately roared with applause and gave a standing ovation as Pam took her place at the front of a completely packed house. After an introduction by the Drafthouse’s Ryan Davis, the evening kicked off with a fan Q&A session moderated by film critic Shawn Edwards of the local Fox TV affiliate and

Pam was absolutely incredible; genial and charming, brutally honest and comfortable with herself, and very, very funny. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:

On her early career–
As a child and young woman, Pam was sexually assaulted on three different occasions — these horrible attacks affected her and eventually galvanized her to take control and no longer be a victim.

On Coffy — 
To portray Coffy, Pam took inspiration from her own mother’s righteousness and sense of justice.

On Reservoir Dogs — 
Pam jokes that she “peed” in surprise when name-dropped in Reservoir Dogs. She watched the film theatrically and felt all eyes fall on her in that moment.

On Sid Haig–
Pam jokingly interrupted a fan’s mention of Sid Haig with “We never fucked”, causing the audience to roar with laughter.

On what other films have influenced or inspired her–
Pam listed several films and individuals. I was so entranced in the moment by hearing them that I didn’t immediately think to write them down, but they included Meryl Streep & Sophie’s Choice, Ingmar Bergman & Fanny & Alexander, Das Boot, Jonathan Demme, and Bernardo Bertolucci.

On her favorite Tarantino film besides Jackie Brown — 
Jackie Brown.”
Besides Jackie Brown?
Jackie Brown.”
But beside that?
Brown, Jackie.”

On Jackie Brown — 
– She prepared for the role by spending a night in a real jail cell.
– Quentin took three days to light a particularly complex scene, in which Ordell tries to murder Jackie. The challenging scene required her to rehearse for 4 hours.
– In order to match Michael Keaton’s intensity, she refrained from using the bathroom for hours to enhance her own edginess.

It was incredibly satisfying not only to see Kansas City’s love for Pam, but the diversity of the audience. I’ve always considered Pam a living symbol of female empowerment, and that belief was certainly supported by the adoration of the lady fans in the audience, who dominated (in a good way) the Q&A.

After the Q&A, Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown was screened. I’d personally only seen it once before, and since then have become a much more knowledgeable fan of 70s and blaxploitation cinema, picking up on the musical cues, font choices, an appearance by Sid Haig, and even a clip from Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. It’s great that this stunning film has picked up fans over the years and come to be appreciated as something more than “the one after Pulp Fiction that wasn’t really like Pulp Fiction”.

Thanks so much to Pam Grier for coming to KC and hanging out with us, and to Kansas City Comic Con, Elite Comics, and the Alamo Drafthouse for putting on the show!

Pam Grier is currently a special guest at Kansas City Comic Con, happening this weekend at Bartle Hall.

– A/V Out.

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