Sunday, June 06, 2010

And to Think It's All Here in Spokane

Every great city longs for its moment in the global spotlight, and for Spokane it came the summer when Richard Nixon yielded to pressure of scandal and resigned. You can learn about Expo '74 over at the Expo Museum. Though it hosted over five million people and turned a profit, Expo '74 is often discredited as being the beginning of the end for World's Fairs.

When Peter Max was commissioned to design the stamp commemorating the event, there was much excitement. That cooled when on an interview he pronounced the name of the host city as "Spoke cane."

spō·kăn, Please!

Just as St. Louis had a theme song to herald the fair, so did Spokane. From Bolder to Boston, kiddos were humming the Bobby Bellows huge hit "Yes, You Can in Spokane". Take a listen to it here. Building on momentum of the enormously popular single, fair organizers brought in diminutive singer/songwriter Paul Williams to compose the score an entire musical of the same title. Starring Liza Minelli and directed by Bob Fosse, it was meant to echo the themes of "Meet Me in St. Louis" with a closing shot of a coked out Liza looking out at the fair declaring, "And to think it's all here. Right here in Spokane."

Sadly, backing did not come in time for the filming to commence before the end of the fair's run and it languished in storage at Paramount for years until the early 1990s when it was adapted for Tina Yothers and Eric Estrada for a skating version of the show called "Spokane on Ice".

Though generally a family attraction, like all fairs it had its share of ribaldry. Mirroring the famed Sally Rand fan dance of the Golden Gate International Exhibition, the "Northwest Naughties" turned the tables in those gender equity conscious days. Billing itself to have the "most beautiful lads of the greater Pacific Northwest" it featured acts like The Boise Boyz in "Mormons Gone Wild". The undisputed hit, however, was 15-year-old Matt Lattanzi from Portland who would go on to have a bit role in "Xanadu" and a break out performance in "Rich and Famous" and "My Tutor" before becoming Mr. Olivia Newton John. Sadly, like Stacey Q, Matt has been reported missing since the mid-1990s.

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