“Clambake” pays homage to 30 years of Women’s Week in Provincetown

That’s it: I’m abandoning my family. The FOMO is too much! I mean, I already knew that Women’s Week in Provincetown kicked off on Columbus Day, which just so happens to coincide with Canadian Thanksgiving, but I used to only have an abstract idea of what I was missing out on. Now thanks to Andrea Meyerson’s Clambake, I have to figure out how to make my own pilgrimage work.

Clambake is a new documentary that looks back on 30 years of Women’s Week and examines its future. Can you believe it’s already been 30 years?

Clambakephotos courtsey “Clambake”

The event started all the way back in 1984 as Women’s Weekend. Provincetown had long since been a hot vacation spot, but a group of new innkeepers knew there had to be some way to extend the visiting season. Most of these entrepreneurs were queer women and together they formed the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown. Their focus was on bringing women back to Provincetown and they figured clams were the way to do it (the jokes write themselves). They reached out to former guests about a clambake on the beach during Columbus Day weekend and soon realized they had hit on a successful recipe. The weekend get-together would grow to include several events and entertainers, eventually expanding to a week.

We get to hear from several of the original innkeepers, many of them having lived in Provincetown since the ‘70s. They’re truly an incredible group of women. Remember, they were buying and restoring properties at a time when few women could muster up the means to. Most worked (and continue to work) jobs on the side while operating their inns just to make ends meet. They’re a sisterhood of sorts, which makes sense since they originally got together to socialize and help each other grow. Well, they’ve certainly grown.

Comic Karen Williams in “Clambake”KarenWilliams2_00000

So has the list of entertainers. You’ll find all kinds of talent at Women’s Week, but it’s the comedy block that stands out. It’s a real who’s who of lesbian comics. Suzanne Westenhoefer, Karen Williams, Vickie Shaw, Jessica Kirson, Jennie McNulty, and so on–Meyerson interviews them all. It’s Kate Clinton that takes the crown, though. Her history with the event spans over 25 years! It’s only fitting then that she has her own event: the Kate Clinton Football Classic. Have you ever wanted to rough/feel up some comedians? If so, this is your game.

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But if football’s not your thing, there are plenty of other events to fill your itinerary with. Like a drag competition, because why not? For a lot of returning guests, however, it’s about reuniting with old friends. Over the years, it’s become obvious Women’s Week is responsible for many a friendship. And, I’m sure, a relationship or two.

Women’s Week has been such a success that Provincetown made the decision to bring other women’s events into the fold. Now there are such parties as Single Women’s Weekend in May, Women of Color Weekend in June and Girl Splash in July. Events like these do more than just serve as build up to Women’s Week; they’re also important to the local economy. Additionally, they tend to attract a younger crowd, which Women’s Week will also have to do to secure its spot on the Provincetown calendar well into the future.

After watching Clambake, I can’t see why that wouldn’t be the case. If the historical significance isn’t enough for you (which Meyerson does a great of highlighting through the use of old footage and interviews with longtime locals), you’ll be tempted by the genuinely good time all these women seem to be having. To put it simply, if you’ve never been to Women’s Week, it’ll definitely be on your bucket list after watching Clambake. And if you have been, I think that, like many of the women interviewed, you’ll find that next year is the perfect opportunity to return.

Clambake is playing at the Desperado LGBT Film Festival in Phoenix on Jan. 30. Check out the film’s website for future screenings.