Monster Truck Rallies

LORELAI: Maybe Dean won’t even come tonight.
RORY: Oh, he’ll be there. There aren’t enough monster truck rallies in the world to keep him away from Miss Patty’s tonight.

A monster truck is a specially modified truck for competition and entertainment, given heavy duty suspension, four-wheel drive, and oversized tyres. Monster trucks developed in the late 1970s, and by the early 1980s were popular side acts at motocross events. Today monster trucks take centre stage at rallies, usually having races and stunt driving. In real life, there are regular monster truck rallies in Hartford and Bridgeport, so Dean wouldn’t have any trouble getting to one.

Somehow Dean has devolved from being a big city boy who liked classic films, Hunter S. Thompson, and Nick Drake into a country boy who likes BattleBots and monster truck rallies. How did he go from seeming pretty perfect for Rory into someone we barely recognise?

Pamela and Tommy Lee

LORELAI: Sell it on the Internet, make a fortune. First we brought you Pamela and Tommy Lee, now prepare yourselves for the crazy antics of Rory and the Bard!

Pamela Anderson (born 1967), Canadian-American actress, model, and author, previously mentioned. In 1995, she married her first husband, Tommy Lee (born Thomas Bass in 1962), drummer for heavy metal band Mötley Crüe.

A sex tape of the couple on their honeymoon was stolen from their home in 1995, and widely discussed on the internet. Anderson sued the video distribution company, but eventually Pamela and Tommy entered into a confidential settlement agreement with the company, so that the sex tape was once again made available to subscribers, resulting in triple the normal traffic to their websites. Sceptics believe that the whole thing was a publicity stunt.

Sock Hops and Clambakes

PARIS: I’d really like to get an ‘A’ on this assignment, and in order to do that I’m afraid you’re gonna have to discuss your sock hops and your clambakes some other time, okay?

A sock hop [pictured] was an informal sponsored dance event for teenagers in the 1940s and ’50s, commonly held at high school gyms and cafeterias, and often as a fundraiser. The name comes from the fact that dancers were asked to remove their shoes so as not to damage the varnished floor of gymnasiums. The name was dropped once sneakers became common, so shoes could be worn. What we’d call a “school dance” today.

A clambake is a traditional method of cooking shellfish, such as lobsters, clams, and mussels, by steaming them over seaweed in a pit oven. Vegetables such as potatoes, onion, carrot and corn can be added. Usually held as festive occasions along the New England coast.

Siegfried and Roy

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EMILY: Oh, now you have a problem with swans and thrones.
LORELAI: Because swans and thrones scream one thing, Mom. Siegfried and Roy.

Siegfried and Roy were a duo of German-American magicians and entertainers, famous for their appearances with white lions and white tigers. They were Siegfried Fischbacher (1939-2021) and Roy Horn (born Uwe Horn, 1944-2020). They had a very successful act at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas from the 1990s until 2003, known for their flamboyant style, sometimes compared to Liberace.

“Sing out, Louise”

RORY: I pledge myself to the Puffs, loyal I’ll always be …
FRANCIE: Sing out, Louise.

Francie is quoting from the 1962 musical comedy-drama film Gypsy, based on the 1959 stage musical, Gypsy: A Musical Fable, adapted from the 1957 autobiography Gypsy: A Memoir by burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee.

The film is about a domineering stage mother named Rose Hovick (Rosalind Russell), who drags her beautiful, gifted daughter June, and June’s shy, less-talented older sister Louise (Natalie Wood) around the country in her efforts to get them noticed. When June rebels and elopes, all of Rose’s efforts are poured into the seemingly impossible task of making Louise a star.

In the film (or the musical, originally starring Ethel Merman as Mama Rose), Rose makes her entrance by shouting, “Sing out, Louise!”, during her daughter’s audition. Francie is likewise encouraging the mumbling Rory to speak up while she recites her pledge.

In the film, the awkward Louise unexpectedly finds success as a burlesque star under the name Gypsy Rose Lee, which is what allows her freedom from her mother at last – a hint that shy Rory will find her own way to escape Francie’s clutches.

“And then there were three”

DEAN: Tomorrow you start paying. Bye. [leaves]
LORELAI: Bye. And then there were three.

A reference to the American counting game, originally called “Ten Little N*iggers”, and later “Ten Little Indians”, and now “Ten Little Soldiers”. A standard of black and white minstrel shows, the original title was used for a 1939 mystery novel by Agatha Christie, now less controversially called And Then There Were None. In the novel, a series of ten murders are planned to fit with the structure of the original black and white minstrel rhyme; the pertinent line is, “Four little n*gger boys going out to sea, a red herring swallowed one, and then there were three”.

Lorelai may be thinking of the 1978 album … And Then There Were Three, by English rock band Genesis. The title was chosen because it was the first one they released as a trio, following the departure of their guitarist. It reached #3 in the UK and #14 in the US. Its most successful single was Follow You Follow Me, which coincidentally or not, is a title vaguely reminiscent of Where You Lead (I Will Follow), the theme song of Gilmore Girls.

Cirque de Soleil

LIBBY: The two minutes you are standing on those stairs tonight will determine the social status for the rest of your life.
RORY: Wow, what if you trip? I mean, not that you would. You wouldn’t. I might. Probably will, actually. Could be a real Cirque du Soleil kind of night.

Cirque de Soleil (“Circus of the Sun”) is a Montreal-based entertainment group, and the largest modern circus in the world. Founded in 1984 by former street-performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, it is known for its spectacular theme-based performances, and has won many awards.

Rory is presumably thinking of acrobats and tumblers when she talks about tripping on the stairs as a Cirque de Soleil moment. This is another of many circus references in the show.

976 Numbers

LORELAI: Now comes the reason for my phone call.
CHRISTOPHER: All your regular 976 numbers are busy.

976 numbers are premium phone numbers on a local level, as opposed to 900 numbers, which are national. Calling such a number will charge you by the minute. They were first used in the early 1970s. Although premium numbers could be used for such things as the time or the weather, they were especially associated with adult entertainment lines, which is what Christopher is implying.

Although the internet has almost killed off the old-fashioned sex line, they are still gamely struggling along.

Liberace

LORELAI: Okay, I think we just found the first room in the history of the world that would’ve made Liberace say, “Whoa. Step back. No one’s that gay.”

Władziu Liberace, known professionally as Liberace (1919-1987) was an American pianist, singer, and actor. A child prodigy, he had a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television and film. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1960s, he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. He was known for his flamboyantly excessive lifestyle, earning him the title “Mr. Showmanship”.

For years, Liberace denied allegations he was homosexual, successfully suing publications that hinted at his sexuality (hence his famous catchphrase: “I cried all the way to the bank”.) He continued denying them, even when his chauffeur and former lover sued him for palimony (it was settled out of court). He died of AIDS, having been diagnosed as HIV positive 18 months previously, with other of his lovers dying of the same illness.

Xuxa

LORELAI: Hey, whatever happened to Xuxa?

Xuxa – pronounced SHOO-sha – is the stage name of Maria da Graça Meneghel (born 1963), a Brazilian television host, singer, dancer, model, and businesswoman. She began modelling as a teenager, and became known in the US during the 1980s as a Playboy model.

Xuxa became a highly successful children’s television entertainer in Brazil in 1986, and by 1991 she was on the Forbes Rich List – the first Brazilian to join the list. Her albums were best-sellers through Latin America, Europe, and North America, and in 1993 she hosted an English-language version of her show called Xuxa on US television. Although the show was sold around the world, the taping was gruelling, and Xuxa withdrew due to stress-related illness.

Because she disappeared from US television in the mid-1990s, Lorelai wonders what happened to her. However, Xuxa has continued her career, and is still very successful; she is the richest t female entertainer in Brazil with a fortune of over one billion, and the second-highest selling female Brazilian singer. Twice winner of the Latin Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album, she is known as “The Queen of Children”.