Transylvania 1999, he said he'd be back. - updated Tuesday, April 19th, 2022
Transylvania '99 - the Griffin is back
It was also nice to fit the next Convention in between the 25th anniversaries of both the original Rocky stage show (1998) and the picture show (2000). Can I just state, I refuse to get into any argument as to whether Transylvania '99 was the last big fan run Convention of the millennium or whether the millennium is at the end of 2000. Frankly I don't care, we ran the event for the fans, not as some kind of competition with other organisers.
One of the biggest changes we noticed for the 1999 event was the fact that our internet sites made it a lot easier for people to voice their opinions. Of course we took notice of what people were asking for, but there were some times during the organisation of the event when we were ready to tell people that if they were that concerned about the way we decided to run our event they should try running one of their own, let alone an international event like Transylvania.
We received over a dozen requests for people to do interviews with our guests, whether for web sites, fanzines, articles, books, the hell of it, etc. As always we stuck to our policy of no interviews at the Convention. It would be so unfair that one person got the chance to have half an hour of a guests time, when there are another five hundred people waiting for them to appear on stage. Most people who asked for separate interviews appreciated this fact, which only helped to prove that they are true fans of Rocky, rather than just pursuing their own agenda.
On the plus side, the internet gave us the chance to do a semi-live ConCam (convention Camera). Rather than just set a web cam up in one viewpoint, Nik, armed with a Kodak digital camera, shot images throughout the day, uploading them within minutes to this web-site. View the 1999 ConCam images.
The venue for our event in 1999 was the H.G. Wells Suite in Woking, Surrey. It seemed that 1999 was the year of cashing in on the Millennium as far as most London venues were concerned. We had tried to get the 1994 venue once more, but they wanted double the amount we paid then for half the time, oh and there would be no costumes at all allowed!
<<< The first attendees arrive (already in costume).
Woking was chosen as it is on a direct rail link to London, close to the main M25 motorway and quite near Heathrow airport as well. The show had also visited the town on a good few occasions, and many fans knew the area. It also meant that people could get accommodation for twenty to forty pounds per night, rather than the hundred plus most London hotels wanted.
The H.G. Wells suite gave us the chance to have a main hall, dealers room, green room, chill out/food hall and of course included a bar open all day and most of the evening! The main room was called the Griffin room, really that's what it was called long before we got there, fate or what?
Once again we had a day of Rocky madness, including the first big screen showing in the UK for five years of Shock Treatment on 35mm film and once more 20th Century Fox struck us a brand new print of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
We had Costume Competitions throughout the day and had planned to run Get Your Rocks Off, our world famous quiz one more time, however it got cut at the last moment due to the packed schedule! You can view the Costume Competition Winners for 1999 here.
Five hundred people attended the event, coming from all over the world. We had attendees from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, America, France, Spain, Germany, Israel, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. There were even a couple from Woking itself. This Convention again sold out before the day itself and we limited the event strictly to five hundred places.
Channel 4 television also visited the event, for a programme called "Collector's Lot", which featured the Rocky collections of Stephanie and myself. We were very pleased that a lot of the footage they took appeared on the show. As always we ran the Convention with the fans in mind, but we also managed to raise £1,000 for our Convention charity.
Programme of Events 1999
We did however get closer than ever with running the event to some kind of timetable. As usual, due to delays in people getting to the venue, the programme started a little later than planned, around 10.30 instead of 10.00am.
What most of you missed was the set up the day before, we started at noon and finished about 2am, the biggest problem being we were supplied the wrong sized screen for the movie! Huge thanks to Andre and the rest of the technical team, also to all those people that arrived early to help with the set up, we love you guys for helping bring T99 screaming into life.
Steve and I decided a commentary on the fans arriving was in order, especially as we had a couple of video cameras filming them with the image projected fifty foot wide on the main stage at the time. So with the aid of two radio mics and a hell of a lot of improvisation, we embarrassed over twenty people before the event even got started (our record is 32!).
To start the event proper I wanted to do something special, after the failure of the pyrotechnics at T94, I thought a nice A/V would look good. Now I know the theory of Audio Visual Projection, having been in photography all my working life (and eight years before that), but I'd never actually tried to set up an A/V projection before.
Science Fiction Double Feature had been planned with clips from all the films mentioned in the song for the movie version of Rocky, but in the end Patricia Quinn's lips got the part. We did manage to get stills from all the movies projected in time to the song, even fading between each image at T99, thanks to Arnold for showing me how to program an ancient Mackintosh controller, and thanks to Andre for finding a way of connecting the controller to our main sound system on the day. Next time though I'll do it on Media 100 and video project the thing!!
After that rather snazzy intro the hall was plunged into darkness and we cut to a rather bad rendition of Brad and Janets "Didn't we pass a castle a few miles back.....etc." scene, cue one Rocky Horror Hearse and two compere's dressed as the worst ever Brad and Janet seen this side of Transylvania.
Steve and I read the usual rules: no smoking in the main hall, no sex in rows three to seven, that kind of thing and proceeded to introduce the first item.
Rocky Horror Company had given us a promotional video of the TimeWarp, from the live album release of 1998 and we projected it to the hundreds of assembled fans. Back stage our first guests had arrived and after the TimeWarp had finished we welcomed Laurie Brett (Magenta, stage tour) onto the stage.
Laurie was then joined by Georgie Hayes (Riff Raff) and Ross O'Hennessy (Rocky). We also had the wonderful Dave Webb (Sax player on the tour) join our first three guests on the stage. We took questions from the audience and you can read a few of the exchanges in the T99 Guests section. Next up to take us over the lunch break was Georgie Hayes and his band "Warp". There are some images from the band in the Guests menu below.
Next up was original RHPS Transylvanians Christopher Biggins, Perry Bedden and Stephen Calcutt. You can read more about their guest forum from the T99 Guests option.
We were then joined on stage by very popular UK and Eurotour Frank......Howard Samuels who not only answered loads of questions but also asked the audience one or two himself.
We were then joined by someone we'd wanted to get at a Transylvania for many years. The original Rocky Horror himself Rayner Bourton. This was the first event Rayner had ever attended and the audience went wild as he stepped on stage.
Sal Piro was our next guest answering questions and holding an auction of rare Rocky items.
Next a real treat, Richard O'Brien had given us permission to video project the promotional video to his song Angel in Me. For those watching carefully, Stephanie flits through and gives the angel a bunch of flowers in the video.
We were then joined by Yasmin Pettigrew, Pam Obermeyer and original costume designer Sue Blane. After another great guest session, Sue stayed on to be a judge for our costume competition. Joined by Ruth Fink-Winter, Davy Orr, Cathy Gardner and Saffron Shearer-Gare. Costumes were judged one at a time from the finalists. For once we had a costume contest that no-one could complain about on the net. How can you say Sue got it wrong? The judging was so close for the other section we decided to give out two prizes and have joint winners.
After the costume competitions Patricia Quinn made her entrance to loud applause and stayed to answer some probing questions from the audience.
How do you follow the original Magenta as a guest, there is only one way. Our next very special guest was the creator himself, Richard O'Brien.
We'd planned a Rocky Horror Trivia quiz and I'd spent ages creating an electronic buzzer system that actually worked. As we'd run out time, we just asked Larry a single question and gave him the winners and runners up prizes!
Next up was the charity raffle, with prizes included some donated by our guests. Our first winner chose the flip board that each and every guest had signed in on. Everyone got an amazing prize and we had lots of very happy fans comment on their wins.
Before the movie screening we had a couple of pre-shows from fan club rep Kev and another from shadow cast Lip Service.
We did a special thank you to convention committee Barbara, Davy, Nik, Stephanie and Steve as well as Andre and all our amazing technical team and of course to all our guests before we ran the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the stroke of midnight.
We'd run three Transylvania conventions during the 1990's and at the end of T99 we came to a realisation that this might be the last one we would organise. The world was changing and less people were interested in attending events like this. There was a time in the early 2000's when everyone just wanted to watch events on the internet rather than be there in person. Happily this turned around with events such as comic-cons and similar reigniting the passion to actually be there to meet the guests, but the dynamic changed. Nowadays you would expect to pay to have a photo with a guest and to pay for a signature. The companies organising these events are huge organisations, not a bunch of fans with a passion for the subject. I'm not criticising that, it's how a lot of actors now subsidise their earnings, but it is not the way conventions such as Transylvania were run. There were a few more successful fan conventions run in the UK since our last one, but nothing at the level of 500+ attendees that we saw. All our guests provided their time for free and we want to say a final huge thank you to all of them for doing so. With love.
Laurie Brett - Georgie Hayes, Ross O'Hennessy & Dave Webb
All text and images © TimeWarp/Transylvania 1999 onwards. Transylvania name and Griffin Logo © TimeWarp 1999 onwards.