Entertainer Windy Plains had never been to “Worshington” before last Saturday night, when she staged her Heartland Showcase at the Metro Cafe. But if she seemed taken aback with the sybaritic currents of the city, especially the trouble caused by that “Miss Lipinsky,” she had her metropolitan audience gasping at the folkways of Plains’ fictional hometown, Climax, Kan. Particularly her “Three C’s for good livin’”: casseroles, country music, and Christ. “My mama always said,” Plains told the audience, “‘You are never so high as when you are on your knees.’”
With her spray-rigid blond curls swingin’ and her glottis always somewhere out in front, Plains, with her pal Joe Bob Biggers from cosmetology school, came to spread “the Gospel of the Heart” to all us sad and depressed people. Her vehicle, a kind of Hee Haw-meets-The Price Is Right variety show, encompassed some melodic man-bashing, as in her version of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” as well as some man-loving: Her cooking segment featured a recipe for Catch-a-Husband Casserole.
Between the music and the food, Plains and Biggers, along with their assistant DeVanna Jo Chance, staged a baffling quiz spot called “Bogus or Bona Fide?” Contestants from the audience had to guess, for instance, whether certain country song titles were real (“I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim’s Gettin’ Better”) or fake (“Did I Wax My Moustache for This?”).
Windy Plains’ creator, Julia Mitchell, isn’t from Kansas, but California. She lives in D.C. and works as a contract employee at the NEA Health Information Network, developing AIDS-education programs. Windy Plainsalong with Paul Wanka, another character Mitchell channelsis something Mitchell cooks up mainly for her own distraction.
Windy Plains’ shtick is truer than her audience may have believed. Much of it came right out of the Western Star, the newspaper in Coldwater, Kan., where Mitchell’s sister lives on a ranch with 500 head of cattle: “The Pikeview Ladies Club met last week for lunch at Nellie Queen’s home in Coldwater….Roll call was answered by a favorite quick meal. Betty Jean Rodee presented the lesson on quick meals. They prepared Orange Blossom Pork, Chicken Ranch Potatoes, Jello Pretzel Salad, and Fruit Medley. Members agreed that lunch gave them badly needed recipes.” The audience laughed, but may well have been laughing at itself, at how urbane and out-of-touch a place like D.C. sometimes seems.Bradford McKee