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Print this pageEmail to a friendConfessions of a Transylvanian
A Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror by Kevin Theis and Ron Fox
Rob's Review
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Rob's ReviewConfessions Of A TransylvanianFew can deny that the Shadow Cast phenomenon is one of the truly unique aspects of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. While there have been various attempts to similarly mimic other movies, the idea of an organised group of devoted fans acting out an entire film (in full costume and make-up) as it simultaneously plays on a screen behind them has, since the late 1970s, become almost entirely synonymous with the whole Rocky Horror big screen experience.

Written in the first person from Kevin's point of view, Confessions Of A Transylvanian by Kevin Theis and Ron Fox is a candid look at a moment in history - the eighteen months in which The Rocky Horror Picture Show played at midnight every Friday and Saturday at the Ultravision movie theatre in Deerfield Beach, South Florida, between January 1982 and June 1983 - and the story, as told by those who lived it, is an agreeably fascinating dose of nostalgia for anyone with an interest in the late night Rocky phenomenon.
Although its premise might sound familiar to anyone who remembers Eric Bradshaw's 1995 (fictional) book Midnight At The Lost And Found (I bought it and read it when it came out, but I can't actually remember a lot about it), fans can rest assured that Confessions Of A Transylvanian is a damned sight more worthwhile and memorable.

Admittedly the first chapter (page one right after the Prologue) starts a little shakily. Urging any readers who may not have seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show to immediately put down the book and go and see a midnight screening of the movie "The way God meant for you to see it," he insists, "With a cast, the props, the call-backs - the works," - before they read on, Kevin goes on to belittle the movie itself. On DVD, he says, without the atmosphere, audience participation and onstage fan Shadow Cast of a midnight showing, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is, in his words, "One unwatchable movie."
"Truly," he continues, "It is a real test of endurance." Ahem, I beg to differ.
Having someone disparage my favourite film a film I have watched many, many hundreds of times on TV, video, DVD and more recently Blu-ray, as well as on the big screen (with and without a Shadow Cast) and have thoroughly loved and enjoyed every single time - in this way, I already found myself angry and insulted. And this was page one.

Thankfully, after this slight disagreement between writer and proud Rocky obsessive, things settle down although a few pages later, our humble storyteller questions whether Rocky Horror nerds exist (yes, Kevin, we do), as, to him, Rocky is clearly just a social event, merely a backdrop to the crazy shenanigans taking place in front of the screen and in the audience, and not the classic work of art it actually is and our humble narrator quickly becomes identifiably likeable and his story amusing and engrossing.

Joining the Ultravision's Shadow Cast (known eventually as the Wild And Untamed Things) and hastily renaming himself Jack for the benefit of his (at first) intimidating new cast mates a moniker he personally deems to be a lot cooler than his given name Kevin begins as a humble Transylvanian, before being promoted to Dr. Scott, with his sights ever set on one day assuming his dream role of Riff Raff and shadowing the undeniable brilliance that is Richard O'Brien's amazing onscreen performance.
Subtitled "A Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror", our hero's exploits involve various degrees of all three, but, thankfully for us, there is particular emphasis on the Rocky Horror aspect, with numerous scenes, anecdotes and amusing occurrences taking place at the twice-weekly midnight shows.
Of the incidents which happen outside of Rocky, it is an eventful and fast-paced softball game between the Ultravision cast and their arch rivals (despised for reasons which have been made abundantly clear earlier in the story) from the Florida Twin theatre in North Hollywood - which involves our hardly athletically skilled heroes getting a little help from an unlikely and unorthodox source (luckily their opponents don't think of demanding a drugs test) which, with thrifty editing and the right choice of music, could be the requisite feel-good bonding scene if anyone ever options the movie rights to the book. How about it, Mr. Adler? It would probably be preferable to the much rumoured Rocky Horror Picture Show remake which no fan seems to want; and, with Fox behind it, the rights to use footage of the real thing for the many midnight screening scenes would not be a problem.

A disclaimer at the beginning reads, "Everything in this book is based on real events, except those that aren't. Some of the names have been changed. Others are compilations of various people. Still others are simply the best we can remember," and, while it is impossible for the outsider to guess which portions of the story are gospel and which might be (at least semi) fiction, there is nothing too outrageous or unbelievable as to make the reader question the legitimacy of these thirty year old events. In fact, in between the numerous late night Rocky shows, minor squabbles, petty cast politics and our adolescent protagonist's rather mundane sexual exploits, nothing very earth-shattering happens at all; and it is therefore a huge testament to the witty, swift and compelling writing style of the talented authors that the whole thing remains utterly compelling, touching and enthralling throughout.
Although I would not have believed it after my initial feelings of contempt for page one, I genuinely enjoyed Confessions Of A Transylvanian, and I find myself wholeheartedly recommending it.

Rob Bagnall (July 2012).

Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Berwick Court Publishing (30 April 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983884641
ISBN-13: 978-0983884644
Size: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.3 cm

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