The cast and crew of “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” had a reunion of their own last week in honor of the beloved comedy’s 25th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, Vogue’s Keaton Bell sat down with director David Mirkin, screenwriter Robin Schiff, stars Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, who played the titular roles of Romy White and Michele Weinberger, respectively, and Post-it Note inventor Arthur Fry to compile an oral history of the sleeper hit, which originally hit theaters on April 25, 1997.
Set in California and Arizona, the quirky comedy tells the story of longtime BFFs Romy and Michele, who relocate to Venice Beach following their graduation from Tucson’s Sagebrush High (class of ‘87!). Though they are living their best lives in the City of Angels, when their 10-year reunion rolls around, they decide to up their game a bit in order to dazzle their former classmates because, as Romy says, “What’s the point of going if we’re not going to impress people?” As such, they borrow a Jaguar convertible, snag a then cutting-edge flip phone, don fancy suits and create a fictional backstory for themselves, regaling their former classmates with the news that they invented the Post-it Note.
According to Vogue, the film fared reasonably well at the box office upon its initial release, “grossing $29 million against a $17 million budget.” But its true success was found via VHS and DVD rentals and repeated airings on cable TV, which turned it into a veritable cult favorite, with new audiences discovering it every year. Even two and a half decades later, devotees are still grabbing chunky platform heels and fur-lined frocks to dress up as Romy and Michele for Halloween. And the fabulous Venice apartment building where the duo live in the movie, a four-story brick structure situated on the bustling boardwalk just steps from the sand at 417 Ocean Front Walk, has become a regular stomping ground for fans.
Known as Venice Suites in real life, the site was built in 1921 and initially operated as an extended stay hotel named the Winn Apartments. Commissioned by former attorney and judge John R. Winn and his wife, Lulu, each of the property’s 32 units boasted a kitchenette and a private bath and was available for both short and long-term occupancies.