Starring – a bunch of 70s actors that while you are watching this movie again, you’ll think to yourself, “Oh, I remember that guy or that girl, I wonder what ever happened to them?” along with some famous people like Richard Pryor, The Pointer Sisters (I love them!), George Carlin, and Antonio Fargas who plays Lindy, one of the best gay characters ever captured on film!
Directed by Michael Schultz
Everybody sing it with me –
…At the car wash
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Talking about the car wash, girl
Come on, ya’all and sing it for me
Oooh oooh oooh
Car wash, girl
Work and work
Well those cars never seem to stop coming
Work and work
Keep those rags and machines humming
Work and work
My fingers to the bone
Can’t wait till it’s time to go home
Hey get your car washed today
Fill up and you don’t have to pay
Come on and give us a play
Do the wash, right away
The car wash
Talking about the car wash
Car wash, girl
Come on ya’ll, let’s sing it with me
Sing it with feeling ya’ll
Car wash, girl
Whoa whoa whoa whoa…
I was only 4 years old when Car Wash hit the movie theaters in 1976, so I don’t really remember this movie exactly when it first hit the big screen. I just know that Car Wash the movie was on my TV a lot as a kid, and Car Wash the song was always on the radio when I was a kid, and so Car Wash the movie and the song have always been in my life. And as a kid, I would get very excited when my dad would tell my big sis and me that it was time to wash our Chevy Van and our Volkswagen Beetle, because I would get to re-enact the movie Car Wash and get to sing the Car Wash song while I was doing all of this car washing of a very big 1976 Chevy Van and a tiny Volkswagen Beetle. At least the cars varying sizes made everything even out in all of that car washing in the end.
Now, when I say that I “acted out” the movie and “sang” the song while I was doing this manual labor for my former Marine Corps dad (and my dad is interrupting me to say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine”), who liked to give me and my big sis “orders” on the weekends to keep us busy and out of Joan Crawford Junior’s hair, I mostly just acted out the scenes in my head and sang the song in my head because my big sis already thought that I was weird enough, I didn’t need her thinking that I was any weirder than I already was by acting out scenes from Car Wash and singing the song to boot. But she probably knew that I was that weird already, since she eventually told me that I was adopted and my real family were Canadian Gypsies of America, so I bet I wasn’t as successful at keeping this acting and singing in my head during all of this car washing as I like to think that I did. And after I found out about this “adoption” of mine, I would tell her that I couldn’t be both Canadian and American at the same time, and she would reply, “Exactly, that is how weird you are.” And I was a gypsy, apparently, because I was too liberal for my own good, and I guess gypsies are too liberal for their own good too? I’m still not quite sure on that gypsy part, but I always got excited when gypsies would appear on my TV when I was a kid, so maybe that is the reasoning behind that part of the gypsy heritage concerning my “adoption.” And there are still some days that I say to myself, “Damn! Now why can’t I really be a Canadian Gypsy of America?! Because my family is NUTS!” Oh well. I guess I’m really related to these crazy people. Well, I’m crazy too, so it makes sense. 🙂
Anyway, what I do remember for a fact is that I LOVED Car Wash the movie and I LOVED Car Wash the song when I was a kid and that love of both the movie and the song has carried on for me well into middle-age adulthood. As well as my love for all 1976 Chevy Vans and old school Volkswagen Beetles. No cars or SUVS or European sports penis machines or anything with four wheels, for that matter, will ever top in my mind the 2 best cars ever – the 1976 Chevy Van and the old school Volkswagen Beetle – because they were a significant part of my childhood, along with Car Wash. So basically, as I get older and closer and closer to getting reincarnated again (I’m Buddhist, so I believe in that crazy shit), I find myself appreciating the little things from my life like the cars and the movies and the songs that made me feel happy and warm and alive inside when I was a kid, especially since I did most of my living in my childhood in my head. My head had a fantastic imagination and that fantastic imagination was way better than the painful and awful reality happening in my house growing up, so when I would find myself loving something like Car Wash and the cars that would get this car washing, I would go into my head and pretend that I was a part of this car washing team of employees in the movie too. And, apparently, I was a good car washing employee in my head, because I kept getting raises and promotions at the pretend car wash in my head while I did all of this actual real life car washing in my actual real kid life.
Our ’76 Chevy Van.
Except it was gray and didn’t have these sexy bikini women hanging around it all the time.
I’m sure my dad would have appreciated these sexy bikini women hanging around our Chevy Van too. 🙂
Ahhh, yes, my dad and I have similar taste in women.
And let me tell you how Freudian confusing that is!
Paging Dr. Freud.
Dr. Freud, you have a telephone call at the front desk.
This crazy chick needs help, STAT!
And here is our Volkswagen Beetle, which my dad and me think was a 1970 version.
Well, it’s not really ours, because I was too lazy to go pilfering through my old childhood photos to see if I had any photos of our old Chevy Van and Beetle, but that is what Google is for!
So close enough, right?
And this car was one badass motherfucker of a tank, because my dad eventually had a deer run smack into it while he was driving down a highway and although the deer didn’t make it, all the Volkswagen Beetle needed was a new windshield and a new passenger door.
And I know I must be getting old, because I’m getting ready to say this old people saying and here it comes,
“They don’t make cars like they used to.”
See, old people talk. 🙂
Anyhoo, what all this talk of car washing and adoption notices and deer that don’t survive running head first into the windshield of a speeding Beetle with my dad driving it means, is that Car Wash also holds a special place in my little repressed lesbian kid heart because in 19fucking76, Car Wash dared to have a gay character and this gay character dared to be fucking awesome and just as much a part of the car washing team of employees as everyone else in this film and for a little budding repressed lesbian kid growing up in a very homophobic, rural Florida in the 1970s and 1980s, this character was a Godsend. A fucking Godsend!
I have mentioned before other gay characters and actors in the 1970s and 1980s that helped little repressed budding lesbian me, from Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares, to Stephen Stucker from Airplane!, to Charles Nelson Reilly doing his Charles Nelson Reilly thing on every talk show and game show that was on my TV when I was a kid. But if I’m being really honest, I think, if I dig deep, deep, deep into the recesses of my internal homophobia that never seems to die and is ever so present today, but at least not so present as it was when I was a kid, still that internal homophobia of mine is still there and digging deep, deep, deep into it, I can see why I LOVED Car Wash so much in the first, and probably really, only place – the character of Lindy (played brilliantly by Antonio Fargas).
Lindy who dared to be gay.
Lindy who dared to be openly gay.
Lindy who dared to be PROUDLY GAY!
Lindy who dared to just be fucking Lindy who was a fucking gay man in fucking 1976 in a fucking movie that was a fucking hit!
Lindy who wore make-up and scarves and discussed hair color dying and nose jobs with a female employee.
Lindy who openly and seductively flirts with George Carlin who is too busy to really notice or care because George Carlin is too busy looking for a hooker who stiffed him on cab fare.
Lindy who immediately in the movie walks into a women’s restroom while listening to a news story about congressmen hiring their male aids to give these male congressmen some sex.
Lindy who walks right into the male locker room of the car wash establishment and says to the fellow male employees – “Stand and deliver, honey!” Just to let them know, don’t fuck with me, honey.
Lindy who gets shit from a fellow employee in this locker room for daring to not only be gay, BUT OPENLY GAY, and so Lindy fires right back, right away at this homophobic fellow employee asshole, who says to Lindy that Lindy better not get excited about his hot body, so everybody hold onto your zipper, and so Lindy immediately says – “One thing you can be sure of, Hippo, is that when I’m around, your body is safe.” *RIMSHOT* Lindy will be here all night, ladies and gents! And the other employees laugh and laugh at the hippo who dared to think that hot to trot Lindy would have anything to do with a homophobic hippo like him. So not a PC thing to say, but this was 19fucking76 and PC hadn’t been invented quite yet to the extent that it is today, so thank God for the 1970s and for Lindy!
Lindy who has to tell another homophobic employee later on in the film – “Honey, I am more man than you’ll ever be. And more woman than you’ll ever get!” *RIMSHOT AGAIN* Once again, Lindy will be here all night, ladies and gents!
Lindy, just being Lindy.
In other words, telling everyone,
“Yes, I’m a faggot, so fuck off!”
And thanks to Lindy, I tell them, “Fuck off!” too.
Except, I’m a dyke.
I hate when people scream at me from speeding cars, “Hey faggot!”
I’m not a faggot. That’s Lindy. I’m a dyke. If you’re going to insult me, can you at least get the lingo right?
Lindy was just Lindy. And in 19fucking76 to have a gay character just be an openly, proudly, in your face, yes, I fuck men character, that was a Godsend to little repressed lesbian me. And maybe that is why I loved washing me some big ass vans and super tank-like Beetles and loved singing me a song about working in a car wash, because what I was really loving was me loving some Lindy.
Lindy who showed me that I could be gay too.
Lindy who showed me that I could not just be gay, but openly and proudly gay.
Lindy who didn’t let the homophobic assholes that gave him shit every day of his life, get him down, and so maybe I didn’t have to let those homophobic assholes get me down too.
Lindy who was just Lindy.
And as the film progresses, you soon find yourself kind of forgetting that Lindy is gay and only just another character in the movie, because we, the audience, fall in love with Lindy as just a person and that is saying something of the amazing talents of the man who brilliantly played Lindy – Antonio Fargas. People get Oscar nominations all the time for playing gay and/or transgender characters, and a lot of the times these people win, so where in the God damned hell was Anotonio Fargas’ nomination and win, Oscars, huh?!! Oh yeah, it was only 1976, so we weren’t into giving out nominations based on sexuality PC issues quite yet. Oh well, Lindy and Antonio Fargas, you were just a little late on that particular PC bandwagon. And people wonder why I don’t watch the Oscars or the Emmys or any entertainment awards show for that matter anymore, and for years now? They just give out awards and nominations to the people they think deserve it based on whatever superficial, political, sexuality, they haven’t gotten one of these damn awards yet, so let’s give them one of them shiny awards this year reason, dammit! Maybe this is why I no longer believe that entertainment awards shows have any credence when it comes to acting, because the nominations and who gets to actually win one of these shiny awards makes no damn sense to me and how the hell do you award art anyway? Isn’t art in the eye of the beholder? Well, this beholder of the art eye says that Antonio Fargas gave an Oscar caliber performance!
So thank you, Lindy and Antonio Fargas. You made this little repressed lesbian kid not be so afraid of being all repressed and lesbian and stuff. I may still got lots of issues today about being gay, but when I get sad about it, I just put Car Wash into my gaming system of the moment and hit “play” and remember my days as your fellow car wash employee in my sad little kid head and how you and I were friends who sometimes got a Coke Slurpee together after our shift at the car wash ended. I don’t think Lindy would have minded hanging out with a Canadian Gypsy of America/sad little repressed lesbian kid like me, and sipping on a Coke Slurpee and gossiping about our day at the car wash. Who knows, maybe Lindy is a Canadian Gypsy of America too. 🙂
Those trailer making genius bastards weren’t quite so genius in 1976 or maybe the movies were just better in 1976, because the trailer for Car Wash is actually as good as the movie. In fact, the movie is actually better than the trailer.
Remember those good ole days of movies being better than the trailer?
Yep, old people saying. 🙂