"Everything gives you cancer these
days, doesn't it? I mean, every time a f*ckin' rat dies in a laboratory we
lose somethin' else good to eat!"
What started as a hysterically crass nightclub act became a
watered-down yet funny staple of 70's television. Wayland and Madame
became cult favorites.
Wayland Parrot (really?) Flowers was born in Dawson, GA.
handmade all of his
puppets and had several characters besides Madame. Jiffy the Harlem Harlot,
Crazy Mary, the old Man Mr. Mackelhoney and Baby Smedley. Madame always remained
his favorite. He had several Madames made, even one he could go swimming with.
He was known to sit her up in a chair and leave the tv on at night for her. He
was incredibly shy and really never went anywhere unless she was with him
illusionist. I'm right out there on stage beside Madame, but within two or three
minutes it seems that I disappear.''
My friend Philip of Felix
in Hollywood told me that Madame was at least partially based on a hostess of a diner called TRIO NYC. Her name was
Margo and apparently Madame was the spitting image of her, aside from what
Philip described as "Margo's holiday
eye shadow." If it was the July 4, it was red, white and blue.
Christmas? Red and green... plus Margo had a much filthier mouth. LOVE.
Madame's very first incarnation was for a dirty puppet play called Kumquats. She
played a foul mouthed Mother Goose character that would introduce the other
stories. One of the bits was a singing vagina puppet that would sing "Hello Dolly." Madame would chime in with, "Is that c*nt
play was over, Wayland traveled around gay bars in the New York area where he was
known to sit on top of a jukebox with Madame and tell jokes for drinks. He met retired fireman Steve
Whalen, the two fell in love and moved to Hollywood in hopes for of a career in
Wayland was introduced
to the world on The Andy Williams Show. After that, the bookings came non-stop.
A show in Vegas, a guest spot on Laugh In...
In 1976 he appeared with Madame on the Redd Foxx gay-themed blacksploitation
flick Norman Is That You? A stand up special on the Showtime
Network called Madame
in Manhattan eventually led to a lucrative stint on the innuendo based The Hollywood Squares.
Wayland took over the center square for Paul Lynde for a short time.
Madame became the first puppet to get her own sitcom, Madame's Place.
Though the show only lasted one season it went into syndication very quickly. It
was during this time that Wayland started using drugs. Rumor around the set
was that he had to be
jacked up on coke just to handle being on a dolly for hours on end while shooting.
Wayland moved on to
the show Solid
Gold for four years.
I'd like to slap the taste right out of your mouth."
They lived in this house in Hollywood,
located across the street from
where Divine died in 1988.
Flowers' stint on Solid Gold ended, he discovered he was infected with
HIV and eventually AIDS. He dove deeper into his drug habits, alienating almost all of
his friends and associates.
On September 2, 1988,
during a gig
at Harrah's resort in Lake Tahoe, Wayland collapsed onstage. When released
from the hospital he flew to Dawson, GA to visit his family for the
last time, then returned to Los Angeles. Some say that, while delirious,
Wayland was taken advantage of and signed away the rights to his puppets.
Flowers died in hospice on October 11, 1988.
He was 48 years old.
There was to be a private memorial service in
Los Angeles on October 22, and another in Georgia.
It's rumored that Wayland is buried with a
Madame puppet. He was cremated, so who knows?
owned by Marlena Shell
Rumor. The puppet has gone through several puppeteers in an effort to revive Madame's career.
One of these puppeteers was Thom Fountain (Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Joe
Kovaks and others. All seemed to leave under a year due to alleged management
"issues." The current handler is entertainer Rick Skye who sparingly does anything with her.
recently a LA based puppeteer Mark Paquette and Marlena Shell were in a legal
battle over the rights to Madame as it seemed the copyright had run out sometime
in the late 90s. It led to a rather colorful race to get the rights again.