The Marden’s Lady has an announcement to make.

“I’m here to announce my candidacy,” said Karmo Sanders, also known as Birdie Googins, also known as the Marden’s Lady, over coffee this week.

Her, ahem, candidacy?

“I’m a write-in candidate for queen,” Sanders said, flashing that made-for-TV smile. “I’m the only candidate! And as everybody already knows, I look good in hats!”

A bit of background: In a column last month, I suggested, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that Paul LePage, general manager of Marden’s Surplus & Salvage, enlist the statewide discount chain’s TV pitchwoman as the mouthpiece for his Republican gubernatorial campaign.

Well, it turns out that Sanders, who travels all over Maine performing as “Birdie Googins, aka the Marden’s Lady,” never actually has met LePage. But that hasn’t stopped her many fans from asking, wherever she goes, if it’s true that the Marden’s Lady plans to stump for the Marden’s candidate.

Conversely, Sanders’ agent got an e-mail a few days after the column ran to ask if she’d be interested in headlining a fundraiser for the Maine Democratic Party.

“I’m not so much concerned about the price as I am with feeling her out to see if she has any concerns about booking a Democratic Party event, given that the manager of Marden’s is running on the Republican ticket for governor,” wrote Rick Redmond, finance director for the Maine Democrats’ Victory 2010 campaign.

Sanders’ response to any and all such queries: Thanks, but no thanks.

“I can get more of a message across by being neutral,” she said.

Her message? And what might that be?

“Human beings are human beings,” she said. “And I want to be able to speak to everybody.”

Translation: Hold a simple mirror up to your audience, and they’ll laugh at themselves until their sides ache. Try the same thing while wrapped in a partisan banner, and these days half of them will either shout you off the stage or get up and walk out the door.

Meaning a comedian can’t afford to be political these days?

“What’s political?” replied Sanders. “I mean, is political just picking a party? Or is political actually standing up and saying, ‘This thing is messed up! We’re messed up!’ ”

Hence, her nonpartisan candidacy for queen – complete with a platform guaranteed to bring the house down.

A sampling:

Sanders, who grew up in Norway, attended Oxford Hills High School and starred off-off-Broadway in the musical comedy “Radical Radio” before returning triumphantly to her native state as Birdie Googins, has seen enough of the world to conclude that all this fuss about “diversity” in Maine makes no sense whatsoever.

“Let’s get a grip,” she said. “Nobody actually knows where they came from. Hardly anyone knows what they’re doing here. And we have no idea where we’re going! So what makes you think we’re all so different?”

Why, then, do so many people spend so much time screaming at one another?

“Because they’re not talking to each other.”

Her take on restarting Maine’s moribund industrial base?

“Let’s open back up the Maine factories and make Maine-edition Barbies,” Sanders said. “Every town would have its own.”

OK, I’ll bite.

“The Sabattus Barbie comes with a folding table, a big garage-sale sign, an assortment of bric-a-brac and the shed full of stuff is optional, sold separately.”


“The Cape Elizabeth Barbie. She comes with a set of keys to her own BMW, her own country-club membership, her own traffic-jamming cell phone and her own dog named Muffy – a golden retriever, of course. But unfortunately, you truly won’t be able to afford her.”

How about Maine’s beleaguered middle class?

“The middle class is breaking down. How do they expect us to live when you’re making 8 bucks an hour and you can buy 2 gallons of gas or maybe two loaves of bread and a gallon of milk for 8 dollars an hour?”

Any solutions?

“What we all should do is just fall down. Every time they run something through the grocery scanner, we should just fall right down on the floor. Then get right up and say, ‘I’m OK! I’m OK! But you’re killing us down here!’”

Her talking points go on and on, from her fantasy visit to the Blaine House (“I don’t know if I can get in, but I’ll pitch some tents on the front lawn and you can bring thermoses of tea. We’ll talk”) to the gay-pride parade her sister once organized in downtown Dover-Foxcroft (“She got exactly five people to march in the parade, and she counted the guy who ran from the hardware store to the post office as six”) to her longtime family farm near exclusive Prouts Neck in Scarborough (“You should see my mother – she’s 88, out there mowing in her ‘Born to Mow’ hat, wondering why people don’t wave back to her”).

Truth is, Sanders considers most of her act political, if not partisan.

And as she travels from show to show, particularly among the out-of-the-way communities north of Bangor, the would-be Queen of Maine can’t help but marvel at the American flags, the freshly planted flower boxes, the sense that this, too, shall pass.

“It’s like we’re hanging on – we know how and we’re hanging on,” she said. “And we turn it into an art form. And we can get there from here. People like to hear encouragement like that.”

“Pride and optimism instead of name-calling and finger-pointing,” I mused. “You could run on that.”

The Marden’s Lady smiled and shook her head.

“I could win on that!” she said.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: [email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.