Tuesday, January 08, 2013

whatever happened to Sondra Prill?

So Kelly Not My Roommate introduced me to the wonders of Sondra Prill, the Florida public access TV star who went reclusive in 2006.  After watching several of her videos on YouTube, I'm kind of in love with the woman who, as KNMR put it, could be the patron saint of giving no fucks.  We were noting back and forth about how funny it would be to track Ms. Prill down and find out what she's been up to, and I decided to write a fanfic in which I did just that. 

Obligatory disclaimer #1:  This is fiction.

Obligatory disclaimer #2:  "Patron saint of giving no fucks" is KNMR's awesome phrase, not mine.

Obligatory disclaimer #3:  This will amuse precisely nobody but myself and perhaps KNMR, but I enjoyed writing it, so. 


She's become an internet icon of sorts, inspiring both obsessive love and deep scorn:  Sondra Prill, the Florida public access TV star whose bizarre videos were either brilliant performance art or horribly deluded vanity projects. 

I recently became acquainted with Ms. Prill's work after receiving a link to her YouTube videos from a friend, and after learning that she had gone off the radar in 2006, I became determined to track her down and find out what she'd been up to.  I cannot discuss how I located Ms. Prill---suffice it to say that it involved cashing in a lot of favors---but I did.  After some coaxing and flattery, she agreed to meet me for a brief interview.

When she answered the door at her modest pink stucco home, Sondra Prill was wearing her iconic fur coat.  I burst into an involuntary fit of giggles, and she twirled around for me. 

"You like it, hon?" Sondra asked.  "Can you believe this thing still fits after all these years?"

After offering me a drink ("Can I get you a soda?  Beer?  I'd give you some water but it tastes like shit around here and bottled water's too spendy"), Sondra and I settle down on a plastic covered couch.  Sondra lights up the first of many Parliaments and stares steadily into my eyes.

"I gotta say, I was pretty surprised to get your call," she says.  "I didn't think anyone gave two shits about ol' Sondra anymore."

"Well, they do," I say enthusiastically, leaning forward.  "And your fans demand answers:  where'd you go, Sondra?"

"You know about the musical, right?" she asked, referring to "Sultry Sondra: A Musical Fantasy", the infamous stage show in which she was covered with honey.  "I couldn't believe it when people asked for their money back at the end of the night.  Seriously, I sing my heart out and get that sticky shit all over myself and people can't appreciate my art?  They can go fuck themselves."  She points her cigarette at me for emphasis and repeats, "They can go fuck themselves."  A scruffy but obviously loved black cat climbs into her lap, and she scratches behind its ears as she thinks for a moment.

"I bet you're wondering if I was in on the joke," she says.  "Well, yes and no.  I always thought I had talent, but I know I was no Madonna or nothin' like that.  I mostly just wanted to have a good time, entertain people, make them laugh or think or whatever."

"Can you tell me about your 'Nasty' video?"

"Man, that was a hoot!" she cries, slapping her knee and sending the cat scurrying off.  "It was me and a bunch of my club friends.  You gotta understand, this was the 90's in Florida, and there was a LOT of cocaine flying around.  And those guys came from a gay go-go bar in Sarasota.  Yeah, in retrospect none of them are Magic fucking Mike or nothing, but back then they were the shit."  Sondra sighs happily, lights up another cigarette, and takes a deep drag.  "I think Bobby might have been bi, actually.  Fucked him once."

Unsure of how to respond to this comment, I flip through my notebook and say, "Um...so, what about that fur coat?"

"My Aunt Doris left it to me when she died.  I don't wear it much anymore, partly because I'm not so big on fur anymore and partly because, you know, fucking Florida.  Doesn't get cold here."

"And can you tell me about your version of 'Pump Up the Jam'?"

"Oh, that was a lot of fun.  I thought I was Sheena Easton back then.  Took a lot of hairspray to get that coif, I tell you what."

"And what have you been up to since you went underground?"

Sondra frowns.  "You know what, I don't really want to get into it.  I've had some hard times, and I'm not looking for sympathy or anything, but I also don't want to hash it all over again.  But you know, I have a pretty good life right now.  I got my cats, my health, my gays---"

"Your gays?"

"Oh yeah, I have so many gay friends it's not even funny.  I call them my gaggle.  Once or twice a year we go to Vegas, stay someplace real cheap, spend a shitload of money and eat and drink and go out dancing.  Had my heart broken too many times, so I'm not looking for a relationship right now, but I ain't against the occasional fling now and then."  She smirks.  "Oh yeah, Sondra can still get real nasty."

A clock chimes in the entryway, and she casts a glance at it.  "No offense, hon, but can we wrap this up?  I appreciate you being interested and all, but I got stuff to do."

"I understand, Ms. Prill.  Just one more question, if I may:  how would you like to be remembered?"

Sondra thinks for a moment, absentmindedly stroking the collar of her fur coat.  Then a brilliant smile crosses her face, and she says, "I want to be remembered as the patron saint of giving no fucks."