Jan's fans have a groovy kind of love Eve Plumb wants folks to appreciate her art


She wore glasses. She was the middle sister who pretended to have a boyfriend, the forgotten Brady who was sick, sick, sick of hearing about Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.

Eve Plumb, who played Jan Brady on the 1960s and early '70s cult sitcom "The Brady Bunch," doesn't really want to talk about being a Brady -- a biographical note that will follow her through life and after. She's 36 now, wears contact lenses and came to Towson last night to show her lithograph prints at the Dark Horse Gallery. Of course, she knows the reason people come to see her work.

"The 'Jan Thing' gets the attention," Ms. Plumb says. "I'm not that stupid."

The timing of her appearance, which coincided with the nationwide opening of "The Brady Bunch Movie," couldn't have been better for gallery owner Michael Gilbert. He was hoping maybe a thousand Brady fans would show up. But only about a dozen fans were there by 6 p.m.

"We think Jan is groovy," said Denise Dorsey, 27, of Columbia. She and her friend, Joy Kaminski, were not ashamed to say they loved "The Brady Bunch" and especially Jan. "She struggled for her identity. She came through.

"We're plumb crazy about Eve!"

Ms. Dorsey brought '60s Flower Power stickers, which Ms. Plumb signed in her real name. Ms. Dorsey wanted to ask her to sign the stickers "Jan" but that might have offended her.

One fan, 9-year-old Brittianey Moles, got Ms. Plumb's signature. She couldn't wait to see Jan Brady in person.

"She looks different," Brittianey said. (For the hundredth time, TV makes people seem taller.)

A few miles up York Road, "The Brady Bunch Movie" is playing at the Yorkridge. The movie resurrects the members of the Brady family grooving their way into 1995. Shelley Long is a dead ringer for Carol Brady, and actress Jennifer Elise Cox plays Jan. Ms. Cox has Jan Brady's profile and speech down.

Ms. Plumb didn't want to be in the movie. She doesn't want to see the movie.

"I forgot about its coming out," she said. "I got over the '70s nostalgia thing. I lived through it."

All this week, Nick at Nite has carried on a Brady love-fest, re-running the re-runs and throwing in all those Brady byproducts. The Nick at Nite people sent the press "A Buncha Brady-Mac Version Disk" to plug into home computers. Ms. Plumb was amused.

"I'm the product," Ms. Plumb says. "And I'm not seeing a dime out of it." She's laughing at herself, and the laugh is about the only remaining remnant of Jan Brady. That and maybe a seriousness about her. She was, after all, the thinking boys' bombshell.

The original series begat an animated series and "The Brady Brides" series, which starred Jan and Marcia. The series also begat "A Very Brady Christmas" in 1988.

Barry Williams, who played Greg, wrote "Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Brady." He disclosed his crush on and date with his TV mom, Florence Henderson. The fact that he said he made out off-camera with Maureen McCormick startled no one, but Greg and Carol dating? The book stayed on the paperback best-seller list for like 20 years or something.

The original Brady cast continues to pop up on current TV shows and on, of all places, MTV. "The Real Live Brady Bunch" was an actual play that actually played at the Kennedy Center in 1993. Actors performed actual episodes from the show. At play's end, the actress playing Alice treated rapt audiences with a parody of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit."

The latest Brady notch on our pop-cultural belt is, as we mentioned, the movie. Turning old TV shows into movies is not new, just profitable. Think of "The Addams Family," "Twilight Zone," "Beverly Hillbillies," "Flintstones," "Little Rascals," "The Fugitive," and "Star Trek." Quentin Tarantino, whose "Pulp Fiction" has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, is considering writing and directing a big-screen version of the 1960s spy series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."

But the Brady phenomenon is different. "The Brady Bunch" show was so bad it was bad. The Brady Bunch so dated itself then that it still seems brand new in re-runs.

Scholars, film critics, college kids, psychics and maybe even presidents have tried to figure out why "The Brady Bunch" endures in all its bell-bottoms, brainless smiles and bad puns.

The show was simply unbearably bearable.

At the Dark Horse Gallery, Eve Plumb wants people to focus on her artwork. She's drawn pictures since she could hold a pencil. Works mainly in acrylics now.

Taste is anybody's guess, but her lithograph titled "Tootsie is Worried" ($38, unframed) was -- to use a Brady word -- neat. Tootsie is her friend's Chihuahua, a real hoot of a dog who "is concerned and worried for us all," Ms. Plumb says.

Denise Dorsey loves Tootsie. Everyone in the gallery keeps looking at Tootsie, Ms. Plumb, Tootsie, then Ms. Plumb. Ms. Dorsey says she'll buy "Tootsie is Worried" -- without the frame. It's been a big night for her -- signed Flower Power stickers, meeting the tough, independent Jan Brady and throw in the new Brady movie, which she was planning to see after the autograph signing. As Ms. Dorsey said, "it's a Brady night!"

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