Unique story, a memoir of men, women and yes, teenagers who worked and lived backstage as well as those who sat in the audience and participated in the live Rocky Horror Picture Show, performing their roles as a shadow cast in front of the big screen as the movie played.
Many of us remember this “cult movie phenomenon” but for those of you who either don’t remember, or are too young, let me quote the description of the Ultravision Theatre:
“A few words about the Ultravision Theatre before we proceed. Remember, this was in the early 1980s; in the days before the mega-plexes and maxi-houses. The Ultravision was an old-school auditorium movie house, the kind the I-Max theaters are now trying, unsuccessfully, to mimic. The screens at the Ultravision were simply enormous, stretching well over a hundred feet across and over thirty feet high, surrounded on all sides by a set of lush, red curtains that encircled the entire room.
The sound system was something else, too. These speakers didn’t simply squeak out the score of the film on some tinny little low-rent system; these babies blasted you right out of your f****** seat. If you saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at the Ultravision (which I did, five times), you knew what a true movie-going experience was supposed to be like: The sound hit you in the chest like a sledgehammer and the screen pinned your eyes open wide, filling your entire periphery, making it feel, at times, as if Indiana Jones was kicking you’re a**.
Another distinctive feature of the Ultravision was that it was its own building. It wasn’t connected to a mall or attached to some corporate complex. This entire structure—this huge, sprawling edifice—was built to be nothing more than a place to show movies. That was it. End of story.
Imagine you’re standing in a gigantic round room, fifty feet high and 300 feet across. Just a colossal seating area, okay? As you strolled past the door, you’d find yourself in a gently curving aisle on the outer perimeter of the theater. The seats themselves stretched across the entire width of the circle with no center aisle, so the rows are forty, fifty, sixty seats across. And there are dozens of rows.
The seats were big and comfy; old fashioned movie-house seats with plush cushions that actually rocked back and forth”.
Now let’s go back in time and focus on the stories of those who worked behind the scenes and even the audience members who were drawn into the drama of the live performance aspect. The language in this book fairly depicts the times, times where sex, drugs and self-expression were part of this cult movement. I quote.
“Clearly, joining the Rocky cast involved on-the-job training. We were going to learn how to swim, but the teaching method this cast employed was to throw you in the deep end of the pool, lob an anvil at you and wish you good luck.
In defense of our friends and colleagues in New York: Doing Rocky can get to be a drag after a while.
I know it sounds like Rocky blasphemy (if there is such a thing), but the truth is that performing the same show, week after week without any variation at all, can be draining and demoralizing. This is true of live theater, rock music and dolphin acts. Doing each and every piece of Rocky choreography, by rote, each and every night leads inevitably to boredom and stagnation. You think Keith Richards likes playing “Satisfaction” at every single concert while he’s on tour? No. He f****** hates it. But he does it because that’s what the people want. And, you know, for all the money and stuff.
Fortunately, the people who perform the Rocky show on a regular basis know that atrophy can set in after constant and mindless repetition. And their solution to this malady is: Mix things up every once in a while.”
If you have ever felt left out, ostracized especially in your youth, this story will strike accord in your heart. When all is said and done, this is a coming of age memoir as a young man finds he can be part of something spectacular and cultivate lifetime friendships.
Theodocia McLean endorses Confessions of a Transylvanian: a story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror by Kevin Theis and Ronald Fox. The characters are real, the stories are true and times have changed as this generation has moved on with their lives. As dramatic as this story is, it is a part of a generation’s history which this book chronicles. The authors invite you to visit “RockyConfessions.com/extras for pictures of the original Wild and Untamed Things along with a few more stories and other goodies from the Ultravision years”.
I purchased and reviewed this book from a Kindle format. This review was completed on December 3, 2015.