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RevolutionSF Adventures: I Am Norman Bates
© Joe Crowe
January 27, 2010

I saw the Universal Studios theme park show "Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies" in 1992. What happened there is true. It's a fun story. I wore a dress in public.

Hitchcock directed North by Northwest, The 39 Steps, The Birds, and the most suspenseful, scariest movie I've ever seen, Psycho. The theme park show showed how he filmed what he filmed, with demonstrations and videos by people who worked with him. The show closed in 2003, replaced by a Shrek show. That makes people dress up as donkeys, I hope.

I was into that film stuff, as a mass comm major at the lovely University of Montevallo in beautiful Montevallo, Alabama. Also, it was hot in Florida, and the theater was chilly and shady.

So I'm in the sweaty line. Somebody in a Universal Studios vest tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I could help her with something.

Sure. Heavy lifting. That's fun to do on vacation.

So I followed her into the Hitchcock building, and she took me backstage. There were crew members back there, and somebody said "Wow! Good choice!"

Well, yeah, I thought. I am indeed strong.

They asked me to help with a re-creation from Psycho. Now, I know this happened to someone every time they did a Hitchcock show at the park, roughly every 45 minutes, every day. But I don't know anyone else who did it except me. So here we go.

I had just seen Psycho in film class. They wanted me to play Norman Bates in the shower scene from Psycho.. I was a college student, age 21 at the time, so my first thought then was, "Naked lady!"

Who am I kidding? That's my first thought now.

Where is Norman Bates in that scene? He's doing the stabbing.

While wearing a dress and a wig. So I dressed like a serial killer who dressed like a lady.

So they dressed me up in motherly gear, the flowery dress, the wig. Of course, in full drag is a great time to meet a woman. In this case, she was in a flesh-colored body suit.

I was in a flowery dress, and a wig, and I carried a knife. Story of my life.

So the show started, and I pretended to stab the girl, while the stage hands put on a masterful show of demonstrating the camera angles, the makeup, the stunt work.

While I got out of my elaborate series of dress and wig, the naked girl went away. Story of my life.

The rest of the audience watched a video of the actor who played Norman, Anthony Perkins. They put me sit in a "special" seat onstage across from the screen with the Perkins video.

Then I noticed a couple of people staring at me. Then staring at Anthony Perkins. Then nudging the person next to them, then pointing at me.

So I examined my zipper. Fully zipped, to my relief.

Then I looked at Perkins on the video. He wore the same color shirt as me. He had the same brown hair as mine, soaked in hair goop like mine, and parted on the same side. It was 1992. We were both fashionable.

For the rest of the day, I noticed park goers staring at me . . . leering at me . . . with their accusing eyes . . . Mother! Blood! Blood!

So if you look like Norman Bates, I highly recommend the experience.


RevolutionSF's Joe Crowe is a writer, editor, and must have one of those faces you can't help believing.

 
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