There was so much buzz around this film, I was even aware of it as an 10 year old. Seeing the trailers on TV made it evident that this film would portray the raw power of sex, and I was already such a porn hound at that age, but that's for a different thread..
The first time I heard of it by word of mouth was from my friend when we were riding the bus. He said he saw Boogie Nights on HBO last night ( I immediately hated him ) and then said there's a scene where a girl comes to a party and goes " Is there any coke at this party?" and an old guy goes "There's some in the fridge." He made that up, because he was too young to know what coke is, but after he saw the rest of the movie he obviously knew what it was, so he thought it would be a clever joke to tell, but to this day I always listen close at that part to see if he says that.. bastard.
Then I was at my friends house and he went into the living room where we weren't allowed at the moment and watched the Magic show scene at the end with John C. Reilly. He told me all about what happened and I hated him.
Then, I was at another friends house, and by the grace of God, they'd just gotten HBO and Boogie Nights was on.
I only remember getting as far as the first Heather Graham sex scene, It was late, but I'll never forget the electricity I felt seeing her full frontal in a movie. I didn't know that was allowed. I had seen 'The Shining' before, but the way that scene ends undermines any sexiness that it starts out with. This was just a full on, hot fuck scene.
The Summer I saw Magnolia, I was 13. It was an existential experience, something I hadn't found in entertainment at that young age. I stayed up all night just fucking scratching my head about it, that was something I'd never done either. Watching the sun come up and pondering my place on this Earth, sending out compassion to all the people I'm connected to. A movie can do that?
That was the night I decided that making movies was my obligation in this life. I had to create something that would affect some dumb kid the way that Magnolia did me, maybe make him feel less alone.
I went to Michigan that summer and it was where I first started writing down my ideas. I also discovered whatever the infant form of this site was ( PTAnderson.com? ) and that just fucking extended the entire Magnolia experience. Again, I was staying up all night, just devouring this information. Seeing all the meaning that Paul embedded in the film and becoming more and more in awe of him. I wish that site were archived somewhere.
My uncle's house where I was staying had a cabinet full of movies, they told me I could watch anything I want. On the top shelf was a brand new DVD of boogie nights, still in the plastic. I couldn't bring myself to ask them if I could open it. They'd think I was such a pervert! And if I went ahead and did it myself, what if they were gonna give it to someone as a gift or something? They'd be pissed! And what's gonna happen if they walk in on me in the middle of the night watching basically a porno, I'd be in so much trouble!
So I saved my wad. Grew up a little. Discovered Marijuana, rented the DVD and watched everything on that sucker in a day. My life was changed, the rest is history.