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Las Vegas, USA
20th Century Fox and Fan Conventions
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PassPass25 years ago, a low budget movie hit the cinema screens. 25 years later, the Rocky Horror Picture Show plays all around the world with one hell of a lot of audience participation!

although the movie was first played in the UK, at the Rialto cinema London on the 14th August 1975, the audience participation came from the fans that viewed it late at night in the USA, and it is in the USA that the 25th anniversary conventions took place.

Unlike the fan run events, the 25th convention was organized with backing from Lou Adler and 20th Century Fox and as such had a much bigger budget to run the event.

We flew in on Thursday and after a nice meal with Bill Brennan, Vanessa (aka Q), Kevin, Stacey and Asia (sorry for the spelling!) we fell into bed to try and sort the jet lag from the eleven hour flight.

Friday Fan Convention

There were two conventions over the weekend. Friday at noon started with the fan convention, organized by Megan Tabor and Sal Piro. The fan event was originally meant to take place at the Circus Circus hotel where we were all staying, however six days before the event it was moved several miles down the road to the Cashman Theatre. Even better, next door to the Cashman theatre was the Cashman convention area, complete with 7,000 attendees to the 'Soldier of Fortune' magazine's own 25th anniversary. Yep, thousands of people, with large guns and a fear of anything out of the normal. On the plus side, the moment we all turned up, they hid inside their venue for the rest of the day!

A nice touch was all the attendees getting a heart shaped 25th enamel badge, seen above with our EXCESS ALL AREAS passes, valid for all the events at the Hard Rock.

The fan convention consisted of the preliminary rounds for the costume contests as well as the judging of the pre-show competition, there was also a "special guest", Dori Hartley, who was the first fan to dress and perform along to the movie as Frank. Dori related various tales of the early days of performing along to the film, and seemed to be held in awe by some of the American attendees.

There were also a few dealers tables at the event, nice to see Bruce Cutter there as usual and the people from Vital Toys also had a stall of their figures. They were selling the three figures in a box for twenty five dollar, a figure that had gone up to forty two dollars the next night in the Hard Rock Hotel's gift shop!

The costume contest preliminary rounds saw Marty and Emma from Dr.Scott's Extra Fork's go through to the finals, along with one of the new people from Charming Underclothes (there was only one CU person left from the people that were there when we retired from the group).

The pre-show contests took most of the afternoon and evening and it was a real honour for Stephanie and myself to be two of the five judges for the competition, I would just like to say it was very difficult choosing the winners, most pre-shows were very good indeed, although a couple seemed to be labouring a single joke. A shame about some of the technical screw-up when groups had their tapes stopped too soon, we did allow for this in the judging if it's any consolation.

At around ten o'clock we all filed outside to get into the (not free) vans that had been arranged to ferry us either back to Circus Circus or onto the Hard Rock Hotel where the next part of the convention was talking place. Emma, Marty, Stephanie and myself finally gave up waiting at around eleven and phoned a cab to get us back to the Hotel. After a quick change we set off in another cab for the Hard Rock

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Friday at the Hard Rock Hotel

The events at the Hard Rock Hotel took place in their venue called 'The Joint'. They had decked the place out with some rather nice red velvet curtains and had built a few castle walls and a throne on the main stage. Three huge screens were lowered and the movie was projected onto them from the USA region one DVD. Performers from around the world got to perform along to the movie, and Stephanie and myself came out of retirement to don the space suits once more and kill a Columbia, Rocky and Frank. They still fit, you'll be glad to know, and we didn't have any trouble with customs this time. How do you explain two gold space suits, a bride of Frankenstein wig and a three pronged imitation laser to a customs officer?

The two runners up to the pre-show competition got to strut their stuff on stage on the Friday, a nice version of 'Thriller' and the most amazing 'Weird Al meets Rocky' pre-shows delighted the fans once more. There was also a Shock Treatment tribute, very well done and we all held our breath as the table 'Janet' was standing on began to tip over, well saved Bill (and no it wasn't an intentional gag).

A slight screw-up meant that they showed the USA version of Rocky rather than the UK version with Superheroes, much to the annoyance of the audience, but on the whole a good time was had by all. The only problem was the volume was just too loud, THX is one thing, but not when you exceed the reference level and the bass volume then gives the first five rows a splitting headache! We left the Hard Rock at around three o'clock, went back to the Hotel, then got changed and went out for a meal. Back to our room at five and up again to go shopping at nine!

Saturday VH1 filming at the Hard Rock Hotel

"Rocky Horror Celebrity Karaoke" was being filmed at the Joint from around seven thirty on Saturday night. We had to ask who some of the celebrities were, unfortunately the fan that was at our table with us didn't watch VH1 much and had as much idea as we did. We did however know one certain 'Gold Blend' man. Tony Head, complete with his own original Frank costume from the stage show, performed a stunning version of 'Planet Schmanet, Janet'. Even better the technical screwed up on his first recording, and with chants of 'More Head' from the audience we got to hear it a couple of times more. At the end of the recording, after much arranged clapping, Patricia, Nell and Richard came on stage to join in with the last number. It would have been more of a surprise if it wasn't for the huge autocue that the presenters needed revealing the fact ahead of time. Kudos to the live band, who also spent a lot of time filming the fans with their camcorders! The finalists of all the costume contest and their guests got to sit in the front section of the venue for the Celebrity Karaoke filming, via a special badge with a yellow dot added, Emma pointed out that if there had been a W H Smith in Las Vegas she could have made a fortune in upgrading badges!

Casino Chips at the Hard Rock Hotel

They then moved us out of the room for an hour while they broke down the television recording equipment and we all filed into the Hard Rock Hotel casino where there was a huge line to buy the Rocky Horror Casino Chips. Limited to only 500 for the $25 chips and 3,000 for the $5 chips word had got out to the collectors and we found a lot of people in the queue who were not attendees at the convention. although they were limiting it to one 25 and ten 5 dollar chips each, one guy and his wife behind us had already been around twice and were about to get thier third lot of chips. He told us the chips were so limited that he would make a lot of profit on them within the month. On ebay.com three days after the event the chips were selling at up to ninety dollars for the twenty five and twenty dollars for the five. It seemed very unfair to us that the chips were not sold to the fans first and foremost and that collectors could deprive attendees of what was an ideal souvenir of a Las Vegas Convention. We were talking to a taxi driver the next day and he reckoned the chips only cost ten cents to make each. With the Hard Rock selling $27,500 worth of chips, that are never likely to be cashed in, at a production cost of $350, you would have thought they could be a little more selective as far as the fans were concerned. On the plus side, the casino also had some slot machines redone as Rocky Horror Picture Show slots, and I won five dollars on one which paid for a chip!

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Saturday Convention at the Hard Rock Hotel

Richard, Patricia and Nell made an appearance on stage to answer some questions from the audience, which mostly seemed to consist of "can I come on-stage and give you a hug/elbow sex/kiss" and they were joined by Tony Head and Dori Hartley to judge the costume contest finals. All the UK entrants were pipped at the post, but finalist is pretty damn good at the 25th anyway. The prizes were presented and then Richard received a journal of messages that we had all signed at the fan convention the day before, nice idea guys, Richard tells us he will treasure it. Emma from Dr.Scott's Extra Forks and the four other Frank finalists got to be on stage dancing behind Dori Hartley as she sang her version of Sweet Transvestite, nice one Em!

Richard et all, stayed for some of the film showing, until security started letting everyone up to the balcony they were on. Sal gave out a few fan awards, Megan got one, as did Ruth Fink Winter, who incidently had bid a hell of a lot of money for the Frank dinner scene shirt that Dori auctioned the day before.

And then the pre-show that had won the competition was performed and what a show it was! 'Andrew Lyodd Webber meets Rocky Horror', complete with a Phantom of the Opera Riff Raff, Rum Tum Tigger Frank and Jesus Christ Superstar Rocky (some people behind booed the Rocky, in America you can carry a concealed weapon to shoot someone dead for eighty dollar, but don't you dare mock religion). The costumes were stunning, the idea inspired and the cast performed with commitment to the audience, with no ego's in sight. Worthy winners.

Saturday Film Showing at the Hard Rock Hotel

And then they showed some weird movie called the Rocky Horror Picture Show, well they did after they had ejected the DVD, cleaned it and reselected all the options needed. Slight technical problems abound at all conventions and as always everyone took it well. Again there were performers from around the world and it was good to see that Bruce Cutter had also come out of retirement to play his version of Space Riff too. The only downside to the performance was the talk-back from the audience. Whenever there is more than one cast in a cinema it becomes a competition as to who can shout the loudest, with over twenty casts it was chaos! I think it's the first time that I have been to a film showing where I have not even attempted to shout a line and that's having seen the movie over five hundred times.

Then we headed back to the Hotel, got to bed at five again after packing everything away, then got up at nine thirty to have breakfast before we cheked out at eleven to catch a flight at one thirty. Ran into Mad Man Mike and Quad at the airport and had a nice chat with them before flying for what seemed like days. Got home at four in the afternoon on Monday, after putting the watch forward eight hours, to find my copy of RHPS on DVD had arrived while we had been away!

I can't even start to list the people we finally met that we have emailed or newgrouped over the years, a big hug to all of you. The Las Vegas conventions were an experience, Las Vegas itself needs another trip to see some more of the sights, that is after we finally pay of the credit card bills for this one!

David Freeman. 22nd October 2000

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