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Riff Raff's on his Way

Waikaito Times

26 February 2004

It was a jump too far to the left for two city councillors, but Hamilton's time-warping plans for a Rocky Horror statue have been approved.

Councillors voted 12-2 to back a Weta Workshops-designed tribute to former Hamiltonian and Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O'Brien for Victoria St.

Ratepayers will contribute $25,000 toward the $125,000 statue of Rocky Horror character Riff Raff, to be erected on the former Embassy Theatre site, possibly by November.

Perry Foundation has pledged $100,000, and there are hopes the cult musical stage show and its creator can be brought to Hamilton for the unveiling.

Last night's vote was dependent on the necessary copyright and other approvals.
But Lou Adler, who holds the Rocky Horror copyright and was the show's original US producer, has given his permission saying: "Not only do I grant my permission, I will stand there and shoo the pigeons away."

O'Brien says he is "exceptionally flattered" by the statue.

While some councillors were appalled Roger Hennebry feared Hamilton would now be known as "queer city" or "transexual town" most favoured the Riff Raff plans.

The debate was held in public after the proposal kept quiet at the Perry Foundation's request –- was revealed this week by the Waikato Times.

Councillor Jocelyn Marshall was horrified at the prospect of a larger-than-life, stocking-clad transvestite in the city: "I said to my friends, have you ever heard of Robert O'Brien (sic) before? No one had heard of him," she said.

"It's demeaning. I won't say anything more because I'm very upset."

Councillor Bill Ward said some councillors were living in a time warp.

Deputy Mayor Grant Thomas said such icons as Auckland's Sky Tower had also been controversial, but later embraced by the public.

Councillor Dave Macpherson said the bronze statue "while not to my personal taste" would generate debate about public art, and spawn other ideas for the city.

The Richard O'Brien Crusade est. 1996