Party Girl (1995 film)

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Party Girl
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaisy von Scherler Mayer
Written byHarry Birckmayer
Sheila Gaffney
Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Music byAnton Sanko
CinematographyMichael Slovis
Edited byCara Silverman
Distributed byFirst Look Pictures
Release date
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$150,000 (estimated)
Box office$472,370

Party Girl is a 1995 American comedy-drama film directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, starring Parker Posey,[1] and notable for being the first feature film to premiere on the Internet.[2]


Mary is a free-spirited party girl who spends her time dancing in clubs and throwing house parties. After she is arrested for illegally charging attendees at an underground rave, she calls upon her godmother, Judy Lindendorf, to bail her out. In order for Mary to repay the loan, Judy employs her as a clerk at the library where she works. Mary reluctantly begins her new job while striking up a romance with Lebanese street vendor and aspiring teacher, Mustafa. Though she initially has misgivings about her new line of work, she is inspired to learn how to use the Dewey Decimal System after smoking a joint at work, causing her to miss a date with Mustafa. Gradually, she becomes very good at her job but she gets fired after having sex with Mustafa in the library. With no money to pay the accumulating rent, she and her roommate Leo, a club DJ, face eviction from her apartment. Mary sells her clothes at a vintage shop in order to get money for the rent.

She also goes to make up with Mustafa, but during one of her parties, she has a fight with him and takes drugs to forget. Her friend Nigel tries to take advantage of her, but she fights him off. The next day, she decides to get her life in order and become a librarian. Her fellow librarians help her sort out some of the areas in library sciences she could study. She invites Judy over to talk, but when they arrive Mary discovers to her horror that her friends have thrown her a surprise birthday party, complete with a male stripper. Mary tells a skeptical Judy that she has finally found her calling in life, and Mustafa and Leo tell Judy that Mary used her library science skills to help them with their careers. Impressed, Judy gives Mary her job back, and joins her god-daughter in dancing and eating hash brownies with her friends.



The film had a budget of $150,000[3] and was shot in 19 days.[4] Much of the cast and crew were already immersed in the queer downtown club scene long before the movie was made. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Posey recalls that in the early 1990s she "would go out rollerblading at The Roxy on Sundays and to [the party] Love Machine, where I first saw RuPaul," and that, much like in Party Girl's club scenes, Posey "would dance with the queens, and they would just annihilate me on the dance floor with their moves."[3]

According to the director Daisy von Scherler Meyer, "the fashion was really invented for the film. [Michael Clancy] created an aesthetic for the character and for the movie and combined that with Parker Posey’s own fashion obsession."[3] Posey says that they relied on favors to assemble the outfits: "“The wardrobe designer, Michael Clancy, and his assistant Vicky Farrell...pulled a lot of things from their friends" like designer Todd Oldham.[5]

Internet debut[edit]

Party Girl premiered on the Internet on June 3, 1995,[2] transmitted from Glenn Fleishman's Point of Presence Company (POPCO). Appearing live in the POPCO offices, Posey welcomed Internet viewers and then introduced the film. Fleishman recalled the event:

I helped launch the first official full-length [Internet] movie premiere in 1995 in my offices in Seattle. The film was broadcast to several hundred people worldwide over a CU-SeeMe reflector at Point of Presence Company's offices in downtown and then a few minutes, it was projected at The Egyptian in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Parker Posey was in our offices to hit the start button on the broadcast. I was one cog in a larger set of wheels that involved the Seattle International Film Festival, (now part of RealNetworks), First Look Releasing, and the film's producers, as well as another online development company and a CUSeeMe engineering consultant, Joseph Kahan who also worked at NASA down in Texas. The launch was shown on NBC Nightly News in a five-minute segment at the bottom of the Sunday broadcast that week.[6]


Much of the film takes place in clubs and at parties, and a supporting character is a DJ. There are many scenes directly discussing or playing music appropriate to the mid-1990s club scene, several local performers, and most music is diegetic, being clearly played in the scene.

Track Written By Performed By Scene in Film
"Mama Told Me Not to Come" Randy Newman The Wolfgang Press Opening party
"Beautiful" C. Frantz T. Weymouth Tom Tom Club Mary, Leo, and Derrick getting ready to go to Rene's
"Les Ailes" Hadj Brahim Khaled Khaled Mustafa's Falafel Stand
"Let's Go" Joseph Longo Pal Joey Outside Rene's with Mary, Leo, Nigel, and Derrick
"Aase Hechchagide (Desire Soars Up High" S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Vani Jairam S.P. Balasubrahmanyarn & Vani Jairarn Mary's Mustafa fantasy dance
"The Boom" Eric Hilton Peace Bureau The "Imitate a Cat Puking" scene
"What You About? (Vocal Version)" The Angel The Angel featuring Cokni O'Dire Outside Rene's with Mustafa and Nigel
"Puerto Rico" Frankie Cutlass Frankie Cutlass Show Mary walking out of the library after she yells at the patron who put the book back incorrectly
"In The Dark We Live (Thee Lite)" (Dave Clarke's 312 Mix) Felix Stallings Aphrohead, AKA Felix Da Housecat The song just before Leo puts on Teddy Rogers
"To Be Loved" Heiner Zwahlen, Elisa Burchett Basscut When Leo flirts with Venus
"You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" Dawn Penn Dawn Penn After Beautiful is done playing
"U Got Me Up" Cajmere, Dajae Dajae The Natasha scene inside Rene's club
"Big Apple Boogaloo" Arthur Baker, Lati Kronlund Brooklyn Funk Essentials Derrick and Mary stealing clothes
"My Adidas / Peter Piper" Darryl McDaniels, Joseph Simmons Run-DMC Leo and Mustafa
"Anyone Could Happen to Me" A Baker, A. Kroell, C. Reeves Nation of Abel During Leo's first night working as a DJ at Rene's club
"If You Believe (Believer Mix)" Chantay Savage, Eric Miller, Michael Dawson Chantay Savage Leo's first night working as a DJ at Rene's club, intercut with Mary's drunken adventure learning the Dewey Decimal System at the library
"Lick It! (No Afro Sheen Mix House of Love More Phearce)" Karen Finley Karen Finley The song supposedly produced by the fictional Teddy Rogers, when Rene screams at Leo to turn it off
"Mustafa's Theme" Peter Daou, Vanessa Daou The Daou Unknown (possibly Mustafa and Mary in the library)
"House Of Love (In My House)" Erick Morillo, Kenny Lewis Smooth Touch Mary's Arabic-style party
"Keep It Up!" Lutz Ludwig, Klaus Jankuhn L.U.P.O. Final scene while the stripper is dancing
"Throw" Carl Craig Carl Craig Presents Paper Clip People Mary's Arabic-style party (mixed with Les Ailes)
'Music Selector Is the Soul Reflector" Dmitry Brill Deee-Lite Mary's Drunken Dance
"Never Take Your Place" Larry Heard Mr. Fingers Leo and Derrick setting up Mary's party
"I'll Keep Coming Back" Charlene Munford, Al Mack, Terry Jeffries Chanelle Mary harassing Mustafa
"Hopefully Yours" Stina Nordenstam Stina Nordenstam Leo and Mary in the shower
"Carnival '93 (Mardi Gras Mix)" G. Pizaro, R. Morillo Club Ultimate Mary's surprise party
"Party Girl (Turn Me Loose)" U. Nate, A. Mack Ultra Naté End Credits

Soundtrack album[edit]

The Party Girl soundtrack was released June 8, 1995 by Relativity Records.

  1. "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" – The Wolfgang Press
  2. "Beautiful" – Tom Tom Club
  3. "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" – Dawn Penn
  4. "Les Ailes" – Khaled
  5. "I'll Keep Coming Back" – Chanelle
  6. "Big Apple Boogaloo" – Brooklyn Funk Essentials
  7. "Anyone Could Happen to Me" – Nation of Abel
  8. "Peter Piper" – Run–D.M.C.
  9. "To Be Loved" – Basscut
  10. "Never Take Your Place" – Mr. Fingers
  11. "Music Selector Is the Soul Reflector" – Deee-Lite
  12. "Party Girl (Turn Me Loose)" – Ultra Naté


The film opened on June 9, 1995, and grossed $472,370 during its initial theatrical release,[7] and has since become a cult classic. Posey says she often gets approached by librarians who are fans of the film: "Librarians and people who work in bookstores are like “Oh my God, thank you so much. Party Girl made me want to become a librarian.”[3] Von Scherler Meyer thinks Party Girl resonates with audiences because of the movie's authentic depiction of underrepresented communities: "When people say 'Oh, the world [in Party Girl] is so diverse,' it’s like 'No. That’s the world. You don’t represent the world in your stuff. Why is your world so segregated?' I think the world is messed up, and Party Girl is normal."[3] The movie has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes from 33 reviews.[8]

Cultural influence[edit]

The film often is noted for its influence on fashion, particularly in the case of Mary's wardrobe.[9][10]

Television spin-off[edit]

A television series based on the film was produced in 1996, starring Christine Taylor as Mary and Swoosie Kurtz as Judy. Although six episodes were filmed, only four were aired and the show was quickly cancelled.[11]


  1. ^ Peter Rainer (June 9, 1995). "This 'Party Girl' Knows How to Have Fun". The Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b The secret history of Party Girl, Dazed Digital, June 10, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ari Saperstein. "How the First Popular Movie Ever to Stream Online Was Made". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Sellitti, Renata. "Parker Posey on Her Eccentric Look in Party Girl". The Cut.
  6. ^ First Film Premiered on Internet?, Glenn Fleishman, September 6, 2003.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Party Girl". RottenTomatoes.
  9. ^ Nahman, Haley (June 9, 2017). "'Party Girl' is the Ultimate Fashion Movie". Man Repeller. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  10. ^ Hess, Liam. "25 Years Later, the Makers of 'Party Girl' Reflect on the Film's Enduring Fashion Legacy". Vogue. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  11. ^ "Party Girl". The New York Times.

External links[edit]