V. Entertainment & Guests

Assembled from lists and records found in the FBI documents, the jobs and workers listed in the Entertainment & Guests department are in this pdf file:

. Entertainment & Guests Department Jobs and Personnel Listing

As a general rule, live entertainment was included as a part of a Rally meeting, although there were exceptions: not every Rally featured entertainment, and there were occasions – for new arrivals or when guests visited, for example – which called for special celebration. Originating in Redwood Valley and carried through to San Francisco, the entertainment always raised spirits and let Peoples Temple rejoice as a community. Edith Roller reported live entertainment 29 times in six months in 1978. Entertainment included singing, dancing, skits and plays – from serious to outrageous – readings, etc. Some of the community’s performers – notably the Jonestown Express – took their talents to neighboring towns and villages, and even went to Georgetown.

Dates in Roller Journal with Live Entertainment Chronicled

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

Aug

Sat 28

Sat 11

Wed 1

Sat 1

Thu 4

Sun 4

Sat 19

Sun 12

Sat 4

Sun 2

Mon 15

Sun 20

Tue 14

Tue 7

Thu 6

Wed 23

Sat 18

Fri 10

Sat 15

Tue 21

Sat 11

Thu 20

Sun 26

Fri 17

Sun 23

Tue 28

Tue 21

Tue 25

One example of an evening of entertainment was videotaped on 17 November 1978, with Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his entourage in attendance, and featured dancers, the singing of Diana Wilkinson, skits and more. Edith Roller’s journal entry of 17 March 1978 gives a summary of the entertainment program below, as an example. A group of new arrivals to Jonestown came in by boat from Georgetown that Friday evening. This group had 48 persons, including Eugene Smith, Vern and Mark Gosney, Edith Cordell, Larry Layton, among others. Jim wanted the family to out to give them a strong welcome, get them off to a good start, as there had been problems in coming across country. And the red carpet was rolled out with the following program:

The Program

-Diana Wilkinson:

“Summertime”

   “Isn’t She Lovely”

-The Jonestown Drill Team

-Patsy Johnson: Snake dance with an
emerald green boa constrictor

-Rev. Edward Moore and Shirley
Baisy, “Rolling on the River”

-Marthea Hicks: “I’m Going Up to
Jonestown Over Jordan”

-Tchabaka Baker: “Guyana Is For Me”

-What will the Sacred Word Be? -poem

-The Soul Steppers, comedy dancers

-A Bad Day at the Movies: Patty
Cartmell & Ron Talley

-National Brotherhood Week

-Emotional Symphony

-Drill Time: Dance 319 C-3-A-3
(90)

-Shawanda Jackson: “St. Louis Blues”

-The Variations (Misfits)-

(Just for Temple and) Diarrhea

   Deworm Me Please

   Sitting on the Toilet Stool

-“Reach out and Touch a Hand”

-Patsy Johnson, Modern Jazz Dance-
Wake Up and Be Somebody

-Tchabaka Baker:

“I’m Just Another Worker with a Cutlass in My Hand”

“I’m Glad You’ve Got Socialism in your Life”

-Marthea Hicks:

“Anybody Here”

   “Compared To What”

-Diana Wilkinson: two songs 

-Finale: “Guyana Is So Beautiful”

Movies/Videos

Entertainment also included feature-length movies one or two nights a week. Some were required viewing, especially those which presented socialist, communist or political themes, but most were not. Videotapes were sent to Jonestown from the U.S., and included a wide array of movies, children’s programs and documentaries. The Temple also rented 16mm films from Georgetown. Some films mentioned in Edith’s JournalOn a Clear Day You Can See Forever, The Outfit, Turning Point, Newman’s Law, Far from the Maddening Crowd, Parallax View, Z, Sesame Street, a documentary on Castro, movies on the Nazis, Rosenberg TV documentary, Three Days of the Condor, The Battle of Algiers, Roots, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and Diary of Anne Frank. Roller also speaks of the “Owl Movies” shown many nights in August 1978, though she never went to them.

List of 267 videocassettes from the US

Library

Jonestown had a large library with up to 20,000 books. Teresa King was the librarian. One of the more complete lists of the Jonestown community was that of the library: Each library card included the person’s name, residence, birth date, and a list of books checked out to him or her. [This list appears on the FBI release to this website under FOIA, CD2, section 124. All pages. Serial CC-1 PT Member Cards]

Music, Tapes & Tape Recorders

Jonestown dorms and cottages had electricity, for lights mostly. But people had other things too. Roller had an electric typewriter that she used (and reluctantly loaned out). She borrowed someone’s iron a number of times. The most popular non-essential in residences, though, were cassette players, for recorded music that people brought with them from the States. Approximately 200 of the tapes recovered in Jonestown after November 1978 were music tapes, ranging from commercially-produced cassettes to classical music programs dubbed from San Francisco radio stations. The subject of musical tapes found its way into Jonestown Rallies and Jim Jones’ addresses to the community. While he said he understood the need for singing and dancing, he often criticized popular music as juvenile, distracting and even counterrevolutionary. He urged residents to listen to “better” music, especially classical, but also music from the 1940s or songs with political themes or traditional music from Third World cultures. Eventually, the ongoing controversy over music was joined when – as Roller described in her journal entry for March 28, 1978 – a new “edict” called in all tape recorders, an order which led to much unhappiness. After an attack from outside, there was paranoia that a traitor inside would use a cassette recorded to tape a message to send out. Later the recorders themselves were reportedly sold to raise money. There was still some music in Jonestown, as classical music was played over the P.A. system.

Guests – Visitors – Workers

From the founding of the Agricultural Mission in 1974, there were many visitors to Jonestown, ranging from local people – those who came for medical support, Guyanese workers in Jonestown, and government officials – to representatives of Guyana’s national government advising the community on agricultural, medical, educational, and other issues, to people from the U.S. visiting Jonestown residents, to U.S. Embassy officials, and more. Over time specific formats, activities and people were assigned for various kinds of visitors. For the most important visitors, much preparation and staging was done. Not all expected visits materialized. There are few records for July and after August.

Dates in Roller 1978 Journal discussing visitors or preparing for visitors

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

Aug

Tue 31

Thu 2

Wed 1

Sat 15

Fri 12

Tue 13

Sat 19

Thu 9

Mon 6

Sun 16

Sat 13

Thu 15

Mon 21

Sun 19

Thu 9

Mon 17

Sun 14

Fri 16

Tue 22

Mon 27

Sun 26

Tue 18

Wed 23

Sat 22

Sun 23

Mon 24

Tue 25

Sat 29

Sun 30

Guest Book was kept which visitors were asked to sign. What survives of this are 30+ pages from January to November 1978 with spaces for about 15 signatures per page. [This list appears on the FBI release to this website under FOIA CD2 vol 97 pp 163-200 (RYMUR-89-4286-Bulky 2018-C-6-a-1a to 6-a-2i.)]

– Don Beck

Last modified on October 20th, 2013.
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