The Big Issue : Edition 442
THE BIG ISSUE 27 SEP -- 10 OCT 2013 33 IN THE FINAL hours of this year's annual Twin Peaks Fest in North Bend, Washington, David Lynch showed up. Oh alright, it was only via text message, but it felt like he was there. As the message was read to fans by festival guest Jennifer Lynch, David's daughter and author of the Twin Peaks companion novel The Secret Life of Laura Palmer, excitement among the crowd offcially ‘peaked’. The message thanked us dedicated fans and joked, "If it gets chilly at night put on a Douglas Fir jacket". It's a gag only fans will understand, but with the series' 25th anniversary on the horizon it's one that perhaps hints at something greater. Long gone is the blush of embarrassment that once came from admitting to attending such a fan convention. Where obsessing over the minutiae of geek products was once looked upon as the domain of teenage boys, the acceptance of this so-called 'fanboy' culture has evolved now to a point where men and women of all ages can faunt their once-maligned obsessions among fellow fans. Twin Peaks Fest is a celebration of the famed 1990s series that blended a whodunnit murder mystery with paranormal surrealism, soap opera and horror. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks was an instant sensation, but was cancelled after two seasons once water-cooler conversation around its central mystery -- 'Who killed Laura Palmer?' -- dried up. It changed episodic television forever and its legacy lives on through the likes of Bates Motel, American Horror Story and even long-form dramas like Breaking Bad. Nearly a quarter of a century later, hundreds of the show's most devoted fans gathered in the small town of North Bend, where the series and its feature flm prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), were flmed. To outsiders (and indeed the townspeople, who either ignore it or embrace it) the Fest would appear to be as bizarre as the show itself. But to fans, known as 'Twin Peakers', it is a life-changing event where new and old friends come together to celebrate the series without an ounce of shame. I attended for the frst time in August and it was one of the greatest weekends of my life. For one weekend, accommodation is booked out town- wide. Visitors can participate in extensively researched trivia contests (I bombed out early), watch Twin Peaks-related flms and videos, visit flming locations, dress up in costume as their favourite character (I opted out in my debut year), purchase merchandise, and devour as many doughnuts and slices of cherry pie -- washed down with a damn good cuppa coffee, naturally -- as humanly possible in just three days. In the shadow of the majestic Mount Si -- one of the 'peaks' of Twin Peaks -- the town is instantly recognisable, even after 23 years: everything from the way the mountaintops remain obscured by bands of cloud all day long to the way the wind blows through the mass of trees. It's no wonder Lynch and Frost were so inspired by the locale and its surrounds. The real thing isn't as dark and discomforting as the make-believe, but it proved impossible to separate the two. This is Twin Peaks. In recent years, patronage of the festival has overflowed. In 2013, guests aged from 14 to 60 arrived from France, Germany, Finland, UK, Canada and more. One fellow Australian had made it her 40th birthday gift to herself, while one Puerto Rican woman was so overcome by the experience she cried at every turn. Others return annually, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Given the series' dark subject matter, it's curious that Twin Peaks fans are the nicest and most accepting people you'll ever meet. It's like one big summer camp for nerdy adults. I'm already saving my pennies to go back. The festival provides fans with access to people involved with the show. Jennifer Lynch signed my copy of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and chatted casually with fans after the festival's movie night in the town's lone cinema. And fans enjoyed a Q&A with stars like the personable Kimmy Robertson (Sheriff secretary Lucy), the quiet but charming James Marshall (surly biker James Hurley) and the regal Catherine E Coulson (The Log Lady). Audience-based events like Twin Peaks Fest continue to grow in an era in which fans have more power than ever. The cinematic return of detective series Veronica Mars -- itself very much inspired by Twin Peaks -- that has been funded via crowdsourcing site Kickstarter is proof of that. And even though speculation of a return to Twin Peaks has been dismissed by key figures, that lone text message read aloud at a festival picnic suggests that David Lynch hasn't given up on Laura Palmer just yet. The scope of television is broadening and there's been a notable spike in interest in the series due to digital formats like DVD, Foxtel and iTunes. It's not hard to imagine a return to the town with the rapidly dropping population. Glenn Dunks is a regular contributor to The Big Issue based in New York City. His most recent feature story was 'State of Play' in Ed#425. GLENN DUNKS SPENDS A WEEKEND AMONG FELLOW TWIN PEAKS FANATICS.