ARTS REPORTING CANget wearisome, but not when one gets to lunch with Linda Blair. As the enfant terrible of The Exorcist and the made-for-TV girls-in-prison drama Born Innocent, she became an icon of '70s adolescence--endlessly fucked over, but acquiring great power in the process. What kid couldn't groove on the image of flinging priests and parents around the room, or see the parallels between high school and a women's detention facility?
Over a tasty spread of Greek food at Santorini's in St. Louis Park, I shared with the star my theories about the empowering qualities of The Exorcist ("Um, yeah--I guess I can see that") and how it sparked my earliest celebrity crush ("I get that a lot--but then I need to ask whether it was from the beginning of the film or the middle"). For her part, Linda--looking fabulous, if a tad puffy, in a moss-colored blazer, black turtleneck and slacks, and tennis shoes--covers the waterfront. She goes on about her love of scuba diving and equestrian sports, and describes her work on a fund-raising calendar for Last Chance For Animals featuring celebrities and their pets. She also disses welfare mothers ("have another baby, get another check") and confesses to an abiding belief in angels.
By the time the waitress delivers the tray of flaming cheese, we still haven't talked about her current acting work, and it becomes clear that times have been a bit lean for the actress. She bitches demurely about shitty roles in low-budget, straight-to-video movies, describing a particularly onerous one--Red Heat--as a sort of B-grade Midnight Express, where our star is tossed in a brutal foreign jail. Anything like Born Innocent? I ask, recalling the notorious broom handle scene. "Yeah, yeah--I get raped by everyone," she says dismissively. "But my manager said it would be a good project. Who knew?"
Yet, while a career revival on the scale of John Travolta may still be a ways off, Linda is keeping busy. She had a recent cameo on Married With Children (as Peg Bundy's tarty cousin), and she's launched a production company to make family-oriented films. At the moment she's doing a Halloween tour of horror theme parks around the country, and was in town last week working at Spookyworld--not reprising her head-spinning role as devil child, just signing autographs. She notes as a point of pride that, unlike some celebrities, she always takes a few moments with each person, always makes eye contact, and always signs her name legibly. "I want to give something back to the fans," she says, stealing a last forkful of baklava. But Linda--you've given us so much already. Now could someone please get Quentin Tarantino on the phone? (Linda Blair International Fan Club, 8033 Sunset Blvd., #204, Los Angeles, CA, 90046)