Miss Richfield 1981 wasn’t in the pink when she took a phone call the other day. She’d picked up a bug somewhere in her constant travels (“that’s life on the road”). But, trouper that she is, her charm rose above the sniffles and raspy cough as she talked about the show she will open Friday at Illusion Theater in Minneapolis: “Sweet & Sour Richfield — Made in China.”
Q: Does this show have anything to do with Christmas?
A: It doesn’t have Christmas in the title, but it’s very Christmasy. We always do the first half on my Provincetown show that I’ve done all year long and that’s what makes it so exciting for the people who like to come every year because it’s a new show. Then after the break, it’s all holiday things — some traditional and some new stuff.
Q: A reviewer said this show is about you leaving the United States. That’s so dramatic.
A: It’s very dramatic. I’m still working on the details, but the people of Richfield buy me Greyhound bus tickets all the time and send me out of town. Since 1981, I’ve really only been home a month and a half. Every time I get home, there on the screen door of my trailer is taped another bus ticket. This time, they said they wanted to send me as far away as possible. So they said pick some place, and I thought, I’ve never been to China, and I don’t think they have anything like me in China.
Q: Would you be comfortable in a Communist country?
A: I don’t want to wear a uniform. I think they all wear the same clothes, and I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. The other thing about it is, I’ve visited Canada and communism over there can’t be that much different than it is in Canada. And besides, I haven’t tried being a Communist, so it’s hard to be negative about something when you’ve never tried it first.
Q: Does Chinese food agree with you?
A: I usually run like a faucet when I eat that sort of thing, so it could be a great weight-loss option for me. I could be looking better than ever. But I am going to bring a few cans of Bumblebee tuna with me. Things have been tough the last few years so I’ve been eating cat food and I’m thinking they must have cat food over there. Or maybe I’ll just start eating cats. We’ll play it by ear.
Q: Yeah, I thought it might make you a little gassy.
A: I’ve been gassy since September 1979. I wear a couple pair of tights, and usually I can control that pretty well. Not to mention, with all of my fantastic choreography, I can work out whatever builds up in the course of a day.
Q: You represent so much of what America stands for. We’d hate to lose you to China.
A: And that’s what I’m struggling with. Can the people of the United States get along without Miss Richfield? That’s where I’m still on the fence. I’m leaving the country that I love but on the other hand, so many things have moved over there that I feel like at some point we’re all going to be working in Nike factories. I may be ahead of the trend.
Q: You like to interact with your audience. To avoid that, should I sit in the back?
A: Actually, sitting in the front of the house is safer. Sometimes I like to go further into the audience. ’Cause the people in the front are the folks who can spend an extra $5 on a seat, and I feel like I already know what’s going on in Minnetonka. I like to go where the real folks are, up in the sight-obstructed seats. I’m talking about the people who don’t do their hair and can’t dress nice. So if you’re the type of person who’s afraid to get picked on, dress up, pay extra and sit down front.
Q: And don’t make eye contact?
A. Actually, it’s just the opposite. I’m going to tell you a secret. You want to look at me and smile and volunteer and maybe even raise your hand? Or wear a “pick-me” button? Chances are, I will pass you by. I’m looking for the salt of the earth, that terrified sort of person looking at their shoes or reading the program. I’m good at drawing people out. I’m looking for those people who are sweating a little bit, a little concerned. They’re the people who need the opportunity to bathe in the spotlight.
Q: Isn’t it time for you to settle down?
A: In fact, next year’s show, which I’m working on right now, is about finding a man. I’m thinking that for a single gal like myself, in my late 20s, the clock is ticking and I need to start moving. This year is about moving to China and next year is about finding a husband, so you are on the right path with that. I don’t want to go through the change and miss the chance to have a family.