The event we’d been waiting for — and dreading — all week has finally come and gone: “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is no more.
And nowhere in D.C. was the loss felt more palpably than at the finale viewing party at JR’s Bar & Grill, a popular bar in Dupont Circle that drew a slew of mostly male fans of the queen of daytime TV.
“I’ve been watching Oprah since 5th grade, for the last 14 years,” said Bexley. “Fashion changed, music went in and out, but Oprah’s always been there. This show was my one-on-one time with her. Whatever step she takes next won’t mean as much.”
Ball, 25, echoed Bexley’s sentiments. “We grew up with her,” she said. ”The worst part is we’re finally old enough to really appreciate her.”
But just because the finale marked a sad day didn’t mean JR’s customers weren’t ready for a party.
“We’re at JRs!” announced one fan, Jimmy Taglauer, impersonating Oprah with a throaty voice and outstretched arms. “We’re drinking vodkas! Here’s my friend John Travolta!”
While there wasn’t any sign of John Travolta or any of Oprah’s other famous friends, JR’s couldn’t resist but throw in a spectacular surprise — something that was noticeably missing from the finale.
“She’s a caricature of herself now,” acknowledged Taglauer, “and I like that. Some of her interviews are really important. And let’s be honest — she picked our president.”
The crowd watched with rapt attention (anyone who spoke over Oprah promptly got shushed), sighed sympatheticaly when she teared up, and cheered when she gave a shoutout to her gay fanbase; “I thank you for tuning in every day along with your mothers and sisters, your daughters, your partners — gay and otherwise ...” she said in the final moments.
“We knew this was a big day in our lives and we were like, ‘How can we honor her?’” said Bill Huff, 29, who attended with a group of about seven friends. “We thought about having a party at one of our places, but realized we didn’t want to pay for it or clean up after.
“So we ‘Oprah-fied’ ourselves” — a photo manipulation tool on the Oprah Web site — “and brought in our own favorite things. Mine are gummy bears, rainbow chip [cake] frosting and ‘pocket gays,’” Huff said, holding up a computer printout of two “really tiny gay men.”
Vernon Wall, one of Huff’s friends, described the finale as an “Oprah keynote.” Huff called it a “eulogy to herself.” Another friend, Joey DeSanto. called it “Judy Garland, 2011.” “Judy Garland — but without the drugs,” corrected Huff.
“I’ve been watching from the beginning,” said Wall. “She was always good. She’s always been consistent. I’m not sad because it’s not over. This show is over. But Oprah’s not done.”