Page updated Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
|Confessions of a Transylvanian|
A Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror by Kevin Theis and Ron Fox
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Few 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.
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."
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.
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.
Rob Bagnall (July 2012).
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