[Editor’s note- this piece comes to us from Faye Murman, avid “Twin Peaks” enthusiast, journalist, adventurer, and friend to Aggressive Comix. You can read Chapter 1 of her dispatches here.]
Day 1 – Friday July 12, 9 a.m.
I made my way to the Double R (sorry — Twede’s) and found the place booming with festival goers. I sat at my spot at the counter and made friendly conversation with those nearby. Registration officially opened at 9:30 at a nearby middle school, with lots of merch, trivia (the winner gets a free ticket to next year’s fest) and a chance to meet the celebrity guests. Some actors charged for photos and autographs, others did not. It’s a great ice breaker to meet them there because by the time Saturday night rolls around it’s much more casual and would be pretty awkward to ask them for an autograph (photos are always fine).
As I sat with my newly made friends, I began to look around and realized we were surrounded by cast members, casually sitting amongst us, no standing on ceremony. Very calmly, lines began to form at the tables of Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Jacoby), Eric DaRe (Leo Johnson, making his second-only public appearance since the show ended in the 90’s), Adele Rene (Lt. Knox from The Return) and eventually Sherilynn Fenn (Audrey Horne).
Also in attendance, but meeting fans for free, were several Woodsman from The Return (shoutout to Anthony Marcacci), Zoe McLane (Victoria the checkout girl in the scene from The Return when Sarah Palmer freaks out), James Giordano (Officer Douglas from The Return) and Andrea Hayes (Heidi, the Double R waitress with that unforgettable giggle).
I met and spoke with all of them, cuddling up next to Russ, having a surprisingly long and casual conversation with Eric (“It’s your first fest? It’s mine, too!” he said excitedly). I asked him about Leo’s fate at the end of Season 2 and wondered if he would have liked to have been a part of The Return and much to my surprise he said he was contacted to be in it, but turned it down. Maybe Leo didn’t die at the hands of Windom Earle afterall? But knowing how Lynch turned Michael J. Anderson (The Man From Another Place) into essentially a tree with some gum on it (“The Evolution of the Arm”) and David Bowie’s Philip Jeffries into a talking tea kettle, who knows what Leo would have been. Maybe a pair new shoes. Maybe more of a burnout like Jerry Horne with his ponytail still there, long and gray. I’d like to think he was still stuck in town, lonely and sad from a life mislead, and completely out of the drug-running business.
I’ve met Sherilynn twice before, the last time being in November at Eraserhood Forever in Philadelphia, where I was brazen enough to unveil my Audrey Horne cosplay. I had worked really hard on it, even making sure the sweater and wool skirt I bought online were both made in the early 90’s. I also had my boyfriend hand paint a pair of white oxfords, just like Lynch did in the pilot. She noticed the shoes right away and high-fived me. My friend who was watching said that must be what it felt like to be a parent watching their kid graduate from high school. I never expected it, but she remembered me and talked with me for a bit. After signing my Secret Diary (which I had everyone sign), she muttered under her breath that I should take any 8×10 I want and she’d sign that, too, then placed an Audrey pin in my hand with a wink, and we said goodbye.
It was now 1:30 in the afternoon and I still had a full day ahead of me. I drove about 100 yards before I pulled over to marvel at the Pacific Northwest Landscape; low hanging clouds with the mountains cutting through them. I was in Twin Peaks. A quick change of clothes at my AirBnb and I was on my way to a private hike to the base of Snoqualmie Falls. This was not part of the festival, but rather me being extremely lucky and having cool friends. The land on one side of the river is private property and a woman in town who has access to it takes people on a hike to the bottom at her discretion. The lush forest! The smell of wildflowers! Hiking through trickling streams and and eating wild berries! Dogs! When we got to the water, many of us, myself included, went swimming in the sacred Snoqualmie waters. I basked in the sunshine and my own good fortune until it was time to head back.
That evening at 7, we were treated to not one, but three songs sung by Rebekah Del Rio (Club Silencio singer in Mulholland Drive and performing as herself singing “No Stars” in Part 10 of The Return) at the North Bend movie theater prior to a screening of some short films and Blue Velvet. Rebekah sang “No Stars” with co-writer and David Lynch collaborator John Neff, then sang her songs “I Love You” (a song she began writing when she was a child and is literally just her singing ‘I love you’ in multiple languages and is the purest song anyone could ever write) and Mulholland Drive’s “Llorando” – both acapella. You could hear a pin drop in the theater. If you have never heard her sing, please do. She’s hands down one of the best singers in the world. She told us later that she sang “Llorando” for David Lynch at his home in 1999 as an audition of sorts. He loved it so much that he stopped her half way and asked her to sing it again in his recording studio. The version she sang that day is the version you hear in Mulholland Drive, though she did actually sing along during each take to make her vibratos realistic.
The highlights of the short films were a video shot by Mädchen Amick (Shelley Johnson) saying hello to all the fans and her former castmates (she gave a special shoutout to her “darling Leo”). The second was a home movie made by Josh Eisenstadt in 2002 at the festival asking all the celebrity guests in attendance to say hello to David and show him how beloved his show still was after all that time. The biggest reactions from the audience came from seeing Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady) and Don Sinclair Davis (Major Garland Briggs) who have both since passed away. Coulson’s character famously passed away in The Return as she was dying from cancer in real life. I have yet been strong enough to watch that episode since it aired. You could hear the audience sniffling for several minutes after they left the screen.
A few of us chose to leave before Blue Velvet began and headed to Smokey Joe’s, the dive bar that was the setting for Sarah Palmer’s infamous throat-ripping scene in The Return. The actor who played the trucker, John Paulsen, was in attendance and was apparently hanging around the bar Sunday to entertain fans, but I had bigger places to be. More on that later, Diane.
Day 2 – Saturday, July 13, 10:30 a.m.
Another day beginning at the Double R. After a quick breakfast, I headed to the middle school to embark on my guided bus tour of filming locations set for 1 o’clock. I got there early in the hopes of meeting Gary Hershberger (Mike Nelson) who wasn’t at the school the day before. Lucky for me, there was only one person ahead of me to meet him. We chatted for a few minutes about the show and a mutual friend, he got a kick out of my Sheriff’s Department patch on my backpack (which my boyfriend lovingly sewed for me the night before I left) and then I hopped on the afternoon bus tour. I highly recommend this for first timers, especially if you’re attending alone or without a car. The tours are given by incredibly knowledgeable staff and though you just drive by most spots, you get plenty of time at the places you do stop, and you can always go visit the others in your free time like I did afterward (such as the hotel from Fire Walk With Me and Carl Rodd’s bench from The Return. I sat on his bench on what would have been his birthday, so that was pretty special).
It was then time to get ready for the celebrity banquet, a dinner where the cast and fans can mingle and dine together, followed by a Q&A and a costume contest. I was getting dressed as Audrey Horne and was really nervous. I’m never nervous, especially not about cosplay. I guess I just knew that I would be traipsing around in front of the cast of Twin Peaks and maybe it wouldn’t go over well or I’d look like an idiot. To calm my nerves and get into character, I listened to “Audrey’s Dance” by Angelo Badalamenti on repeat on my way there, which helped, but also made me realize what a dork I am.
Not everyone chooses to come in costume (you can change after dinner if you want), but I’m so glad I did because it was the best icebreaker I could have ever asked for. Immediately the pleasant and excited comments start coming my way: Rebekah Del Rio took one look at me and shouted “Oh my God, it’s Audrey!” and almost immediately upon taking my seat, I looked up and locked eyes with Jan D’Arcy (Sylvia Horne, Audrey’s mom), we both just naturally smiled and waved at one another so I decided to go over and say hello. “Hello, my darling daughter,” she said. “You look just like her,” which made my heart melt as she pulled out her phone for some photos. “Take lots and lots,” she told Noah.
We decided to go to the balcony, which had a breathtaking view of the mountains. Attendees were asking to take my photo, and when I saw one of them, everything hit me all at once. There was Audrey Horne, in front of the Twin Peaks mountains. She was home and so was I. To my left was Russ Tamblyn, we took a photo together, our faces squished together. Jacoby and Audrey together again. Hot damn. Sherilyn left the fest that afternoon, and the amount of people who called me a “dead ringer” and “replacement Sherilynn” truly made my night. One person said “it’s ok that she’s not here. We have you.”
WOW, BOB, WOW.
At this point I had made unintentional eye contact with Eric DaRe’s son Aidan twice through the windows into the banquet hall. By the second one, I smiled and waved, he and Eric waved back, got up and started walking toward me. “Don’t look now, but Leo Johnson is coming to see us,” I said to Noah. Eric came out side, unblinkingly walking toward me with his arms outstretched and his jaw dropped. “I have been staring at you,” he said, “and I could not tell if you were Sherilynn or not!” I stared back at him, now equally in awe. “You look just like her! I had the whole table looking at you and no one could say for sure if you were Sherilynn or not.” Before I knew what I was doing, I grabbed him and pulled him into a tight hug and thanked him. “Aww, do that again!” Adele Rene (Lt. Knox) requested as she pulled out her phone for a photo. My brain was melting and my heart was happy. Suddenly I found myself in joyful conversation with Eric, Aidan, Adele, and Gary Hershberger. Adele was a force of nature. She exuded beautiful and fun energy and was absolutely the ringmaster of the cast members in terms of group photos and fun things. You could tell she was having a blast, and her wardrobe choices never disappointed (a cherry jumpsuit, a blue rose skirt – it was all Twin Peaks related, as was Rebekah’s).
They were serving dessert by the time we realized how long we had all been talking and ran in to scarf down our now-cold dinner. We walked over to Eric’s table to finish a conversation about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (because upon a recent rewatch of the film, I thought I recognized him as a biker extra. That is in fact him. He’s uncredited, you barely see his face, but that ponytail is unmistakable). We talked about Pennsylvania (where he spent his summers as a kid and where I am from) and how he feels bad for people who never get to see fireflies like he did there. By this time Russ had rejoined the table next to Noah and it all just felt so lovely and privileged.
The costume contest was as bizarre and creative as you would expect it to be. People pulled of Senorita Dido and the Fireman costumes with effortless perfection; two girls from Poland dressed as David Lynch’s Rabbits; there was a Dr. Amp with two girls dressed as golden shovels; a man dressed as Deputy Hawk’s painted elk skin map, which he made from scratch with his mother, who is part Native American. My friend David won first place with his costume “The Birthday Cake from Another Place” which just needs to be seen to be believed.
With hugs to my new friends, I got into my car and drove my friend Marley back to the Salish (the Great Northern). I decided to get out and look at the falls (it was 1 a.m. so I wanted to seize the opportunity to see them without a crowd) and he joined me. Seeing the falls at night is a completely unique experience. The mist had risen hundreds of feet up to our eye level and drifted over the trees – the trees we’ve seen a thousand times in the opening credits and in cutaway shots. They looked ominous and eerie and it was very fitting. Bats came out to hunt and soared in front of us as we talked about anything and everything. As Marley was walking me back to my car, I looked down at my feet and saw Audrey Horne’s unique hand painted shoes. “It’s really trippy to be walking outside the Great Northern as Audrey Horne,” I said, to which Marley emphatically replied “Yeah it’s really trippy for me, too!”
We bumped into Eric’s son Aidan who was coming out for a smoke and we hugged and hugged like we hadn’t just hugged goodbye an hour ago, because that’s what happens when you meet people at Twin Peaks Fest. You’re locked in for life.
With the moon nearly full and the Twin Peaks soundtrack playing, I drove through Snoqualmie into North Bend. The dark, woodland roads, the moon through the trees, my costume and the music set me in the perfect mood after a perfect day. I was living in Twin Peaks and it was elating. How could each moment possibly keep getting better than the last? Little did I know how good things would truly get the next day.
Day 3, Sunday, July 14, 11 a.m.
As promised, the last day of the festival was the most relaxed. We met at Olallie State Park at 11 for a picnic. The hot dogs and burgers flowed freely as we dined along the same river bank where Leland placed Laura’s body -wrapped in plastic- in the water (not where she washed up, but where he first puts her in the water) and also where Theresa Banks’ body was found floating. Yay David Lynch picnics! Noah and I spent most of our time hanging by the water with Eric and Aidan, which was really wonderful. They are such great people. After a few hours of mingling with new friends and old, we embarked on a walking tour of filming locations in the forest with Josh Eisenstadt. The park ranger building right next to our picnic spot was actually used as the Deer Meadow Sheriff’s Station in Fire Walk With Me. We also saw several sites in the lush, magical forest from The Return such as Jack Rabbits Palace, the location of the coordinates that is a gateway to the White Lodge, and the tree where Steve and Gersetn have that tragic scene huddled under a gargantuan, moss-covered tree.
After a few other activities like Tibetan Rock Throwing and a pie eating contest, it was time to say goodbye. The celebrity guests lingered for as long as possible, saying farewells and snapping their last photos. Rebekah Del Rio even sang a few bars of a song. It felt equally heartbreaking and heartwarming.
There was still one more activity later that evening, Leland Palmer Karaoke at the Roadhouse, and while that sounded fun, Noah and I had bigger plans. We were headed one hour away to Everett, Washington, to a location that had always felt like an unlikely bucket list item, a place that had seeded itself into my subconscious 22 years ago and has never left: the Palmer House.
With permission set up with the owner, Mary, days in advance, we had been giddily looking forward to this moment all weekend. Before I continue, some things you need to know about Mary are: she is a beautiful human being, full of love, kindness and compassion. She is the perfect owner for that house because she cherishes its history – especially with the show, and has gladly played host to thousands of fans from around the world usually with some cherry pie at the ready (she said she gets someone stopping by almost every day of the year for a photo). What you also need to know about Mary is that she’s had some bad experiences over the years and has become more discerning about who she lets into her home so you need to reach out to her in advance and see if it’s ok to stop by. Noah had visited the year before and is an amazing person, so he vetted for me and brought me along. Also, you should tip her. She works really hard to make sure everyone has a special experience there. She didn’t ask me to say that, that’s just my honest opinion. Pay the woman. She’s amazing.
My heart was pounding as we approached the 700 block of her street. “We’re almost there,” Noah said. “I can already see it,” I whispered, my eyes somehow laser focused in on the eaves of the roof from a block away. I can’t remember what I said or did as we parked in front of the house but I was in absolute awe. I live in New York, have hiked the Great Wall of China, have swum in the Persian Gulf and camped in the Australian Outback, yet somehow this was the most exciting moment of my life as a traveler.
Mary and her daughter Caitlin greeted us at the door with a hug then Mary looked at us and apologetically whispered “I’m so sorry, you won’t have the house to yourselves, Rebekah Del Rio is still here. She’s been singing for us!” Noah and I once again gawked at each other and then gawked at Mary. “Oh that’s ok, we don’t mind,” we said, trying to sound casual, then probably high-fived each other.
We were greeted in the kitchen by Rebekah, Jill and Laurie, two other amazing women from the fest. A signed bottle of Kyle MacLachlan’s wine and a cherry pie with chevron crust were waiting for us. I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing. I stayed focused on the incredible moment unfolding before me, but in the back of my head was the knowledge of what lurked behind me: The Staircase.
Fans of the show will know exactly what I mean when I say it is iconic. I first saw the shot of the staircase and menacingly whirring ceiling fan 22 years ago. It was the moment in cinema when I became “activated”, the moment I knew I needed to be a filmmaker. (I already knew I needed to be a still photographer). I was 12.
That shot showed me the power of filmmaking; That if you knew what you were doing, you could make anything —even a ceiling fan— meaningful, or in this case terrifying. When it came time for me to finally see it, it brought me to my knees. I became incredibly emotional and started spilling my guts to Mary about how much her stairs and fan mean to me (???) thanks, David Lynch! The two things I was most starstruck by that weekend were a puddle and a ceiling fan. God I love that man. Once again, like the Double R and the Sheriff’s Station before, it was familiar, like I had used those stairs my whole life.
“This is Laura’s room,” Mary said, as I gingerly walked in – and screamed at the top of my lungs, because standing in the corner at over 6’ tall was a lifelike dummy of Killer Bob. We were laughing hysterically when Mary told me “Rebeckah screamed in key when she saw this.” I knew then and there that is this was the kind of thing that Mary enjoyed doing, she was my kind of person.
We saw the rest of the house and then decided we should all go for dinner. The Mexican restaurant in town was about to close, so we ordered our food to go and brought it back to the house. Do you see what I mean about each moment being better than the last?
I was about to have dinner. At the Palmer house. With Rebekah Del Rio. The White Lodge had truly blessed this vacation.
Everyone ate and interacted as if we had all met before. We shared personal stories and intimate facts, made dumb jokes and laughed our asses off. At one point, Rebekah kept looking at her dinner and saying “no hay beans” (which you will know as a reference to “No hay banda” in Mulholland Drive). She kept saying it and laughing to the point where she texted Richard Green (who says the line in the film) and asked him to say “No hay beans.” Sure enough, the next day as I was on an Amtrak from Seattle to Portland, I got a message from Rebekah. It was a video of Richards saying “no hay beans” and I never laughed so hard because oh my god I have an inside joke about Mulholland Drive with Rebekah Del Rio.
I tried to keep my head down at dinner, focusing on my tacos, because every time I looked up, I was looking into the Palmer living room, and my heart would actually stop. So for the sake of eating my dinner, I tried not to look at that familiar room.
After dinner, we took our wine to the front porch, looked out over the Puget Sound and kept the conversation going. It was truly one of the most beautifully surreal moments of my life and it made me feel good to know I let my love for Twin Peaks and David Lynch and filmmaking guide me to this moment with these people.
By around midnight, Noah and I were the only two left with Mary. Being at the Palmer house at night is truly something to experience. Looking up at the house from the sidewalk, I could hear the menacing music of Angelo Badalamenti in my head. I could envision where Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee stood in the finale of The Return. It was like I was right there in the show.
The conversation just kept flowing and flowing and every time we’d say goodbye, we’d keep talking instead. Since Mary is from Wisconsin and Noah is from Minnesota, we jokingly referred to these as our Midwestern goodbyes. We had about three of them before we got in the car and drove off.
The next morning, Noah and I had our last breakfast at the Double R, along with several other fest goers who had now become our friends. Everyone walked around the diner, hugging everyone else when it was their time to leave, to go back to the real world. Noah followed me into Seattle where I returned my rental car, then he drove me to Kings Station to catch a train to Portland, where I’ve been visiting friends and writing this ridiculously long recap of a festival celebrating a show that is almost 30 years old. I didn’t want to leave and I miss everything and everyone.
My first day in Portland, I would enter a bar or restaurant and start to look for familiar faces like I was back at the Double R. Alas, they are nowhere to be found.
Until next year, my friends. I’ll see you in the trees.