“I Think We’re Alone Now”: Two strangers and their shared obsession with ’80s pop icon Tiffany

By on September 3, 2018

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Sean Donnelly’s 2008 documentary I Think We’re Alone Now takes a lingering look at the curiously intersecting lives of two complete strangers whose mutually-shared infatuation with ’80s pop icon Tiffany has over the years become a full-blown obsession.

I Think We’re Alone Now — named for Tiffany’s 1987 hit cover version of Tommy James and the Shondells’ ode to heavy petting, a Top Five U.S. hit in 1967, which was spoofed by “Weird Al” Yankovic as “I Think I’m A Clone Now” on his 1988 album Even Worse — is now streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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The film’s origins can be traced back to Donnelly’s Christmas break in Santa Cruz, California, during his sophomore year at NYU’s Film and Television program.

He and an old friend were walking down the street in his hometown, where his parents still live, when they came across Jeff Turner, a Santa Cruz resident in his fifties who he learned was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

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Donnelly discovered that this lonely man (who has never had a girlfriend) often spent his days hanging out in Santa Cruz, striking up random conversations with strangers about God or his various conspiracy theory-laced ideas which are all pretty bonkers.

Turner also told Donnelly about his favorite topic, California-born pop singer Tiffany, who he believes is an inter-dimensional time traveler. She is also “the most Christ-like person I’ve ever known.”

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Donnelly thought Turner might make a really interesting and fascinating subject for a short film.

Donnelly ended up making what he called a “film school style” short film about Turner which he also describes as “terrible,” saying it “will hopefully never be seen again.”

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Donnelly says he didn’t know about Turner’s obsession with Tiffany until the fourth or fifth time he went to his house, where Turner showed him his “radionics machine” which he says he uses to communicate with Tiffany “on a spiritual level from a distance.”

He learned that Turner had been going to Tiffany concerts since 1988, and in 1989, when the singer was just sixteen years old, she got a restraining order against him for stalking her.

Turner believes that actress Alyssa Milano — who was granted a restraining order against him in 2008 — is also a time-traveler.

Donnelly — who has made a name for himself directing music videos and television commercials, and he also did the animation for the feature documentary Waiting For Superman — kept returning to Santa Cruz over the next five or six years, filming additional sequences for a longer feature-length documentary.

He showed some of the roughly-edited footage to NYU friend Phil Buccellato, who ended up helping him shoot and edit the project.

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Read more about Sean Donnelly’s I Think We’re Alone Now below.

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Sean Donnelly with Kelly McCormick

While he was researching Tiffany on a Tiffany fan website, Donnelly was told about Kelly McCormick — a woman in her thirties and a self-described “intersex” transsexual — who was just as obsessed with Tiffany as Turner was.

As we learn in the film, McCormick — who identified as a male at Buena Park High School (Class of ’91) — believes she was born with both genders, and she is now looking to complete a sex-change transition to female.

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It was Buccellato who first filmed McCormick after she’d taken a fourteen-hour bus ride from her home in Denver, Colorado, to Las Vegas, NV, where she was going to see Tiffany in concert.

McCormick turned out to have been even more Tffany-obsessed, claiming that they’ve been committed best friends since she was a teenage boy, despite never having met her.

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McCormick first became obsessed with Tiffany after having a prophetic vision about her while she was in a coma for weeks, following a serious bicycle accident in 1987.

She came out of the coma  believing she and Tiffany were destined to be together, and now credits the singer as her motivation to stay healthy. She spends a lot of time working out in the gym and jogging.

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The film also reveals that Jeff Turner invited McCormick to join him in Vegas, telling her he was her close personal friend.

McCormick agreed, believing that it would lead to a face-to-face meeting with Tiffany, which we actually see in the film.

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Donnelly says he wasn’t sure if the interwoven stories of these two strangers and their shared obsession with ’80s pop icon Tiffany would work, but eventually realized their stories complimented each other.

They were, in fact, a fascinating study in opposites, McCormick’s more focused intensity contrasting with Turner’s lighter, jokier personality.

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Donnelly discovered they were both obsessed with movies. Turner, in fact, was a walking encyclopedia of cinema knowledge. McCormick preferred big budget action-adventure flicks.

Donnelly reached out to Tiffany, beginning in 2002, and interviewed her twice, but she wasn’t interested in talking about Jeff Turner.

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Donnelly and Buccellato spent years editing I Think W’ere Alone Now, making sure that both Turner’s and McCormick’s obvious mental issues weren’t too exploitative.

The documentary has a lot of eye-opening sequences, such as Turner’s visit to the Glamorcon, an adult actress porn convention, where Tiffany is meeting her fans (she posed nude for Playboy), followed by Turner’s subsequent church testimony on the subject.

McCormick’s more interesting moments involve her putting on her make-up for her first meeting with Tiffany.

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I Think We’re Alone Now premiered at the Slam Dance Festival in Park City, Utah, in 2008.

Watch I Think We’re Alone Now — as well as fascinating documentaries about outsider artists, porn stars and their pets and various other strange topics — on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.