My first memory of Wayne’s World: the chaperone mom who played “Bohemian Rhapsody” on repeat so that her van full of little kids could sing along. It was a road trip, and all that’s really left of the memory is the song, the chaperone mom, and the whole road-trip nature of it all. I hadn’t heard the song back in the van all those years ago but I faked it, in hindsight, not all that unlike Garth, who appears to lose track of the song towards its end. I was in 3rd grade then, and 3rd graders aren’t always totally up to speed.
Wayne’s World was instructive to me. I learned the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I got a Stratocaster. I learned that there is a state called Delaware and that nobody could be certain as to what people did there. That cars should be given pet names. That girls could know Karate, could use Karate, and through so doing could totally transcend Wayne’s and Garth’s trifling and sophomoric stroke-ability scale. That the flip-side to the transcendent Cassandra was the indestructible and ever-lurking Stacy.
There were some intervening years though, years after Bohemian rhapsody but before I would toss terms like transcendent around, when thinking about Wayne’s World meant thinking about Stacy. My specific interest in Stacy can be traced back to an April Fool’s Day in 2009 when my friend and I went to a Diplo concert in downtown Tucson. My friend parked his car a few blocks away from the venue and right as we began our walk to the show, we ran into a girl that he had been romantically entangled with but was in the process of trying to become romantically disentangled from. Hours later, when we returned to his car after the concert, that girl was waiting for us there, in the parking lot—had waited for us through the entire concert—and my friend had to sit in her car and chat with her for a while as I sat in his car, a Subaru Legacy—we called it The Lez, or, The Lezcacy—wondering how much longer it was going to take them, and about how sometimes the Stacys of our lives don’t always promptly and quietly withdraw themselves from our scenes the way we’d hoped.
In Wayne’s World, it’s Lara Flynn Boyle who plays Wayne’s lingering ex-girlfriend. The simplest arm-chair explanation for why this might be so seems to be that Boyle was still famous from Twin Peaks. In Twin Peaks, she played the character of Donna Hayward who—like Stacy—was square and love-struck—everything Wayne seeks not to be, but will himself become. The decision to cast Boyle also brings to Wayne’s World some association with the often ordinary but oddly disturbing worlds created by David Lynch, worlds where ex-girlfriends are the least of your problems.
The night of the Diplo concert, it was a girl named Natalie that haunted my Wayne-like friend. By the time their parking-lot squabbles were settled, the girl couldn’t leave because her battery had died while she was staking us out, and we had to stick around after to give her a jump. I don’t know why my friend started talking about Stacy that night, but Stacy stuck (I too was in the middle of my own disentanglement efforts), and to this day, when we speak of exes, we fall into our best impression of Stacy: Stacy as she just happens to be riding by Wayne and Garth’s street hockey game, trying to make waist-high spandex and a neck brace look sexy, shooting such a lengthy stare at Wayne that she never even sees the navy blue Camaro that she crashes into.
According to USA Today’s “25 things you didn’t know about ‘Wayne’s World’ on it’s 25th anniversary,” Mike Myers wanted to cut the Camaro scene because he “didn’t think it was organically funny,” but changed his mind when he saw the big laughs it got. I imagine what Myers found inorganic about the scene was the shot selection and editing: the cut from Stacy riding by the camera as the camera pans to follow her... to the stone-still, long shot of the phallic Camaro, and how immediately after the cut that Stacy launches into her spectacular crash.
Possibly worse than the pain of the crash is the pain of the cover-up that follows. Stacy shrugs and giggles off the crash a lot like she shrugged- and giggled-off her fall through the skylight at Cassandra’s loft. A big part of Stacy’s character is her cartoonish, Terminator-like indestructibility, but it’s easy to imagine Stacy crying when she gets home. And it did hurt; Hannah Kozak, the stunt double you see crashing into and rolling across the Camaro, informed me via Twitter that, once her adrenaline had worn off, the pain of the stunt made itself felt.
When the audience first meets Stacy, she is introduced as a “psycho hose beast.” When I started writing about Stacy, I still, decades later, didn’t know what a psycho hose beast was supposed to be. The best explanation came from a friend who spoke of a kind of cross-country dialect that existed in metal circles of the late 1980s. He said that a psycho hose beast was essentially a crazy girl who was, let’s say, sexually available. Wayne’s World is a caricature of this scene—kind of like how metal itself is a caricature of rock—so I’m inclined to say that his definition checks out (if you need further proof of what heavy metal is or how the metal scene influenced Wayne’s World, watch Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris’ documentary of the mid-80s metal scene in Los Angeles, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and see for yourself: the headbanging, the hair, the Peter Pan-ish nature of a lot of the dudes, the mind-boggling double standard of slut—it’s all there).
When I was Wayne and Garth’s age—whatever age that’s supposed to be—I too was sexually available but had a hard time finding any takers. The few one- or two-night stands I’ve had are like little treasures of memory I keep stashed away in my mind’s little cigar box. There was the army girl who convinced me to completely abandon the bar I was supposed to be tending to go make out with her on the clay tennis courts of the resort I worked at; there was the woman in the flower-print dress I met at The Bashful Bandit—a once supposedly tough biker bar now situated next to a sex shop and a strip club in central Tucson—the same woman who carried a medical dictionary around in her purse like it was a deck of Tarot cards; there was the lady flight mechanic whose alluring fragrance turned out to be AXE body spray, the one who took me to her trailer off of Interstate-10 and told me she’d take me flying someday; there was the dreamy naked Indian I gave a drunken lap dance to at a friend’s party (the one who came back with me to my apartment behind the Bashful Bandit).
One of them in particular became My Stacy:
We met while serving tables. We became instant and classic work rivals with me telling her how dumb I thought everything she said was and her beating back by saying even dumber things. But we also watched some of the same shows (Arrested Development comes to mind) and liked to quote the shows endlessly together to ease the stress of high-expectation food service (“it’s an illusion, Michael”). One day, during a slow lunchtime shift, she asked me to go to the movies with her that night and I—lacking the courage to ask out a couple of the other girls at work who I desperately wanted to go out with to please, pretty please go out with me—said alright.
And so, later that night, we went to a movie, bought a bottle of Jack Daniels at a Walgreens or a CVS, went back to my apartment—the one behind the Bashful Bandit—and had sex. A couple months go by. We’re still working at the same penguin-suited place of work and regularly sleeping at one another’s places. Everyone at work knows about our hooking up by now, and by then our relationship had spawned much realer things to fight about than food service and TV shows. Finally, our once fun, get-you-through-the-workaday repartee turned into a head-shaking spectacle at the workplace, with everyone everywhere leaning back, assuming knowing tones, and saying things like “that’s why you don’t fuck your co-workers.”
This girl, My Stacy, in addition to being adorably goofy, was tenacious and hard to shake: one night we broke up but she refused to leave my apartment, literally clinging to my apartment’s door-jamb as I tried to push her out before I finally gave in and let her stay. We probably had sex that night too.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see how her Terminator persistence made the Stacy reference stick the way it did. What’s especially grim about Stacy is that persistence is potentially a great trait to have but that Stacy wastes it trying to re-enter Wayne’s exclusionary little World of endless gags and fucked-up idealization of supermodels like Claudia Schiffer, and that the prevalence of such warped priorities leads so many people to self destruct.
As I was disentangling myself from the relationship with My Stacy, I found myself trying to enter into another relationship. Her name was Samantha and she was one of my friend’s roommates at this big party house they all lived at. I met her one night while my friend and I were on acid. Until Sam’s arrival, it had been a night of relative quiet at the party house, and my friend and I had finished watching both Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, and were in serious need of an attention object outside of ourselves and the TV, and, as if on cue, Sam appeared and was a good sport about absorbing our big-pupiled attention as she recounted her evening for us, cracked wise, and became the life of our little party.
After that night, my friend invited me over to the house all the time and I began to hang out there often, getting to know and growing to like Samantha rather a lot. Those nights often included beer pong games played out on the house’s massive kitchen island. Sam and I made a good Beer Pong team. We made good Beer Pong opponents. We watched BBC’s Planet Earth together—me, Sam, and all the other party people. One night she invited me into her room so that we could listen to Kanye West together.
I think that night, the night of “Stronger” by Kanye West, was the tipping point. Shortly after the “Stronger” night, I remember one weekend in particular in which I was waltzing around my apartment—the one behind the Bashful Bandit—drinking lots of iced gin, smoking lots of weed, and listening to a lot of Al Green’s “I’m Still In Love With You,” all the while formulating my non-plan.
After that weekend, the crush got a little out of hand. I made some phone calls, unanswered phone calls in which I didn’t know quite what to say, exactly, after the beep. Then, one night, sometime after New Year’s, a couple of friends and I were shooting pool at a bar and I was elucidating for them my feelings for Sam while at the same time lamenting the relationship’s failure to launch. I had, at that very pool table, a go-and-get-your-love type epiphany. Immediate and decisive action had to be taken by me.
I strode home full of faith and conviction. Because I had been walking home to take immediate and decisive action from west of where I lived, it meant that I had to walk a bit farther due east past my apartment complex before I could cross the big and busy street of Speedway Blvd in order to circle back through the parking lot of the Bashful Bandit before making it to my apartment, and it was while circling back through the parking lot of the Bashful Bandit that I ended up naturally bee-lining towards a car full of girls, a car whose downward-rolling window came to reveal none other than the face of Sam herself.
Who wouldn’t have taken that as proof of Divine Grace? In my mind, it was epiphany confirming, a reward engineered by the Gods and brought perfectly to pass by my immediate and decisive actions. If I had arrived seconds earlier or later, I probably would’ve missed Sam and her entourage all together.
There was a brief exchange at the car in which Sam told me that they were all headed back to the house, and I told Sam and her crew that I was headed the same way and would be there shortly myself. I went to my apartment and gathered my courage along with the framed poem I’d written for Sam (unfortunately titled “For Sam”), the hot pink scarf I bought for her, two Champagne glasses and a bottle of Champagne, and I walked the mile or so down to the party house to meet her with good cheer, gifts, and news of our impending and inevitable union.
I soon learned that Sam hated the color pink, and possibly didn’t like poetry either. That she was kind of seeing a guy named Bear.
The Champagne went unopened, the glasses remained empty. The poem might as well have been a gun rack. It wasn’t happening. She let me down super gentle though, which I doubt anyone would’ve expected from a girl with the sobriquet of Slam (Samantha and her friend Ashley were affectionately known as Smash and Slam). We sat on her porch while my adrenaline wore off and I asked her about whether or not Bear was a person, and told her that the only thing left for me to do was to become a Harlem Globetrotter, my own version of shrugs and giggles after crashing into the proverbial Camaro.
With the Samantha episode a wrap and My Stacy having moved on, I realized I had no place to land. I began to haunt used bookstores in search of books about pre-Wright Brothers attempts at flight, particularly the ones that involved fatalities. To this day, I’ve never found a book solely dedicated to the failures. It was around this time that I drifted into most of the one- or two-nighters mentioned above. The night of the Diplo concert, my friend and I clowned on girls that we thought of as Stacy, but clearly there was a psycho hose beast dwelling in me as well, a beast too stubborn and cunning for clowning and laughter to keep down. Around the same time that my own inner hose beast was sharpening its claws, I had been single for pretty much my whole adult life. I was in my mid twenties and ever since I’d turned eighteen I’d lived alone and had been lonely. I wanted to see into and be a part of other people’s lives, and I wanted others to wiggle their ways into mine. That’s what I got, and that’s what I did, ended up doing, had become—a wiggler turned beast.
It happens to the best of us: Wayne has flashes of the beast in Wayne’s World when he shows up to and ruins Cassandra’s music-video shoot (this gets glossed over though because of the even grosser ickiness of Benjamin), and in Wayne’s World 2 when Wayne and his friends don costumes and walkie-talkies and straight-up spy on Cassandra. For a while, what had happened with Sam remained something I shrugged and giggled at until one night when my friend’s mom happened to come to the resort during my shift. She asked me how I was doing and, without really thinking about it I stood there in my jacketless tuxedo with a tray full of drinks in my hand and began to recount the Samantha episode. I can’t remember what I said exactly but I think I ended it with something like “and who would want to go out with someone who was behaving like that?” I was, of course, referring to myself.
If you haven’t noticed, Denry’s World followed a very similar romantic plot arc to that of Wayne’s World. I disentangled from one relationship, and spent the rest of the movie trying to get into and stay in another one. The only difference is that I thought I was playing Wayne, when the reality is that I will be remembered more for my role as Stacy (remembered by me if nobody else), and that My Stacy was probably a lot more like me than I thought. That I didn’t get the girl, and that after spectacularly not getting her—when I walked out of the movie theater and into the blinding light outside—Denry’s World kept rolling.
Mike Myers considered three endings for him and his Wayne and their world. He settled on the “Mega Happy Ending,” the one where Cassandra gets the record deal, Wayne gets Cassandra, and everybody else learns their lesson. My romantic plot arc circa 2009 had just one ending. You see, I had often worn a certain pair of boots at the party house, boots that had left hard-to-remove scuff marks all over the house’s pretty tile. Scuff marks that I’d always promised I’d clean up when they all moved out. Well, they did eventually move out. And so, one hot afternoon, when all the furniture and people were gone, I was there on my hands and knees, spraying foul detergents and scrubbing and futilely scrubbing some more.
Hands down the best scene in Wayne’s World is the one in the donut shop when Stacy gifts Wayne a gun rack apropos of nothing. According to IMDb, the gun rack scene was based on a true story: a once girlfriend of Mike Myers broke up with him because of his preoccupation with comedy. She reconsidered the breakup, however, and gave him a gun rack to make it up to him in the form of an absurd joke. You’d think his heart would’ve melted, but Meyers didn’t bite. Instead—obsessed with comedy as he was—the gun rack got written into the script. That, along with everything else Myers did to Stacy, hurt the girl that Stacy was based on. Later, Meyers—again according to IMDb—tried to apologize.
In one of the endings to Wayne’s World—the bad one—Stacy comes out of nowhere to announce her pregnancy to Wayne. Even after that, even after Wayne offers not one word of response, Stacy simply shrugs, giggles, and walks straight out of the frame (there’s a continuity error though, so it really looks like she walks off twice, a glitch in Wayne’s sad and bogus matrix). The scene highlights what’s scary about Wayne (Mike Myers), real-life world-building in general, and what happens when we assume that we can have movie-like control over the way things work out.
As someone who loves to assign characters to real life people and think about which actor I might cast to play them in my brain’s little movies, as someone who might also be too attached to gags, references, and comedy, perhaps the most important lesson I can take from Wayne’s World today is that all of those things have their obvious limits, and if you start to blur them with real life then you might miss it when somebody gives you a gun rack.
I like to imagine my own alternate ending for Wayne’s World, an ending in which Wayne hangs the gun rack up somewhere on the set of his show as a fitting tribute to a non-sequitur ex, somebody who cared enough to get a custom necklace with the letters W-A-Y-N-E dangling from it. I went back and re-watched Wayne’s World 2 to try and see if I could spot the gun rack or some sort of Stacy reference somewhere. Alas, no Stacy, no gun rack, just Kim Basinger as Honey Horneé with her seductive ways and .45 magnum.
If you have the time for Stacy—all she wants is some of your time—go back to the diner / gun rack scene and watch Boyle’s performance. Look at her looking aimlessly about, monitoring her periphery for signs of recognition. Look at how she stumbles and recovers. Watch as Stacy’s face shifts gears as she changes tactics while probing Wayne for information, weakness, disclosure-of-future-whereabouts. And, perhaps, more than anything, watch Stacy bite her lower lip and nod her head as Wayne realizes that she’s giving him a gun rack. It’s brief but watch it carefully: the bit lip is patent anticipation, the nod is both knowing and oblivious, there’s a self-satisfaction to them both suggesting that, in Stacy’s mind, she’s watching her brilliant plan come together just as she’d engineered it, that the gun rack will surely bring him around.
Denry Winter Willson was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1984. His first love was basketball, but in high school he made the move to marijuana and hacky sack. He first enrolled at the University of Arizona in 2002 and is set to earn his bachelor’s degree in December 2017. He has appeared in March Fadness and Territory. Above his desk hang pictures of Abraham Lincoln and the Titanic.