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The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Rocky Capital of the World

05 March 2004

Hamilton may just have unleashed a monster with its plans for a statue to commemorate its links with the Rocky Horror Show, writes the Waikato Times in an editorial.

Show creator Richard O'Brien wants to bring the annual convention for the film of the show to the city next year. It will be the 30th anniversary of the making of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a movie that has developed a huge cult following all around the world.

The plan for the convention follows the first official recognition that Hamilton had a big part in the picture and the original stage show. O'Brien, while not born here, spent his formative years in the city and the old Embassy theatre, now demolished, was inspiration for much of the show.

But a plan by the city and Perry Foundation to mark the fact with a statue of O'Brien dressed as Rocky Horror character Riff Raff has polarised Hamiltonians since it was announced last week. While there has been huge support from those pleased to see that the city is finally recognising its artistic talent, the anti-statue lobby is horrified that the city can be associated with a show that has transsexual overtones. They are also upset that they had no input into the spending of $25,000 of ratepayers' money and have used that fact to berate a council that can see the long-term benefits of the plan.

But the city's contribution to the statue is a small one and will be a tiny investment if the three-day convention goes ahead and the city becomes a focus for Rocky Horror tourism in the future. The critics can't see that because most of them have no conception of what the show is, or its cult status, more than 30 years after it first appeared on stage in London's West End.

What they don't realise is that the show and the film that followed it are international stars. The official Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club has 50,000 members in North America alone. The website of the British fan club has had more than 230,000 hits since it was established.

News of the statue plans has already been posted on the site –- and received an enthusiastic response. "What a good excuse for a trip to New Zealand," says one fan. "Hopefully one day I'll be able to afford to visit it," says another.

Rocky fans are true enthusiasts. Therefore they'll find the money for a trip to New Zealand for a Rocky Horror event if it's promoted and offers them something they can't get anywhere else. And even better if it's in the hometown of the show's creator.

That's because Rocky Horror isn't just a movie, or a show. It is an experience with many fans dressing up and getting into character. In Austin, Texas, the film has run continuously every Friday and Saturday night for the past 25 years with audience participation encouraged –- andexpected.

Hamilton has just been given a huge opportunity to reinvent itself as the Rocky Horror capital of the world. It has to take that opportunity fast –- and make the most of it.

The Richard O'Brien Crusade est. 1996