Arts & Events

Berkeley's Jesus Jungle to Host "Prime-Time" Jane

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday August 17, 2011 - 11:58:00 AM

Jane Fonda, 73, always was "bigger than Jesus" to her fans and now that she's big with Jesus, she's bigger—than ever. Fonda "converted" to Christianity in 2002. Fonda followers speculate this conversion led to her divorce from Ted Turner.

Fonda Breezes (she copped a '74 Oscar for Bree Daniels in Klute) into Berkeley Wednesday evening to plug her new book, Prime Time, at the 1st Congregational Church in the heart of South side's Jesus Jungle, a neighborhood of two blocks and five block-hogging churches bounded on the North by Bancroft Way and on the South by Haste Street—West of Telegraph Avenue.

Fonda will be sermonizing on aging, exercise, and self-reflection. Her last book promo at Cody's, Telegraph, five years ago, although standing-room-only, was less churchly. But it was free. At First Congregational—sponsored by KPFA—it is $15, for those even fortunate enough to get in. 

The money benefits KPFA and book sales proceeds go to Jane Fonda's charities. 

These churchy book-tour events are a painful reminder of the loss of often raucous Cody's Books author talks on Telegraph, where anything could happen. You never knew which Telegraph character would disrupt the evening—often hilariously. 

Now running from the grave in "Prime Time," which might be more accurately referred to as, "The Late Show." Fonda is making the most of act 3 of her life, discoursing on diet, exercise, and sex over 70 ("slow and easy," as she told Jay Leno Aug. 12). 

She was here in January for a first taste of Chez Panisse. Call it a last supper for a super-star. Premiere Magazine ranked her as #32 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature (2005). 

Fonda reportedly lived in Berkeley's Elmwood briefly in the early seventies when Berkeley was still the destination for cultural, intellectual, and artistic superstars looking for radical chic. And when it comes to radical chic you can't get more chic than Fonda whose Barbarella poster sold beside Brando, Dean, and Monroe in head shops and poster shops which proliferated in North Beach, the Haight-Ashberry, and Berkeley's Telegraph avenue. 

But at the Re-print Mint on Telegraph Avenue, a historic poster shop, a ten-year employee said she hasn't seen one in ten years. Nor have there been requests. Al Geyer at Annapurna head shop, founded 1969, who has seen his fair share of Barbarella posters, does not stock one, and Rasputin's doesn't know. 

Fonda continues, however—way-post Barbarella—to sell books, films, and feminism. She has said in recent interviews that she no longer accepts patriarchy after years of attachments to mentor figures, substituting for her indifferent father, Henry. 

Say what you will about Fonda's politics, Hanoi Jane or angel on the far-left, her political activism continues to be cutting-edge. And when Fonda adopts a cause, she puts her feet on the ground, if not in her mouth (which her critics have charged). 

Fonda went to Seattle, Washington, in 1970 to support a group of Native Americans. 

In December 2002 Fonda visited Israel and the West Bank as part of a tour focusing on stopping violence against women. She demonstrated with Women in Black against Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip outside the residence of Israel's Prime Minister. She later visited Jewish and Arab doctors and patients at a Jerusalem hospital, followed by visits to Ramallah to see a physical rehabilitation center, and a Palestinian refugee camp, according to Wikipedia. 

Unlike a Cody's reading Fonda's church appearance will have more than the usual security, according to Ken Preston at KPFA. 

Looking back to the Fonda appearance at Cody's in 2005, the Planet offers these observations from Ace Backwards, Berkeley's homeless critic ("what can they do to me, take away my sleeping bag?"). 

"Tonight, Jane Fonda was appearing at Cody’s Books on the Ave plugging her latest book. People were lined up in the store as she sat at a table signing books. People were looking at her and gawking and pointing and giggling like she was an exotic zoo animal for public inspection. Weird. “Its Jane Fonda! Can I pet her!” She looked like a handsome, dull, glazed, well-preserved, middle-aged housewife. No Barbarella suit tonight. The people in the crowd were mostly graying, affluent-looking Boomers. I guess the Boomer Generation has done boomed. In Berkeley you’re doomed to endless succession of ’60s retreads coming to town to tell their exciting stories of those exciting days of the ’60s. What exciting days they were." 

Stay tuned as we update this piece to include any new excitement Wednesday evening, even though Ace Backwards considers it a yawner. 



Even from the South-side, Ted Friedman is a Fonda watcher; and fan of her films and brilliant Hanoi guerilla protest, for which no apologies are necessary.