25 February 2004
By INGER VOS
Sick or sensational?
Hamilton City Council votes tonight on whether to earmark $25,000
for a Weta
Workshops statue of a cult musical transvestite in the city's
Rocky Horror Show's Riff Raff, played by the film's writer
Hamiltonian Richard O'Brien, is planned on land that was the
in Victoria St. The site has been chosen because Mr O'Brien
once worked in a
barbershop next door to the Embassy before he decamped to London.
But like many public art proposals before it, the Riff Raff
statue is highly
controversial, and councillors are tight-lipped on how they
will vote. The
public will be excluded from tonight's discussion, although
it is understood
Mayor David Braithwaite and Councillor Roger Hennebry are among
opposed to the statue.
Mr Braithwaite said the issue would be discussed behind closed
sponsors wished to keep the matter private and confidential.
This is despite it already having been made public that the
has pledged $100,000 of the $125,000 total cost.
Meanwhile, councillor Jocelyn Marshall remains vehemently opposed
statue. She was "very disappointed" Riff Raff was
the first piece of public
art to be considered under the new Art in Public Places policy
"I think people are frightened they will be regarded as
a fuddy-duddy if
they say no. I am not frightened to say no."
However, social and community committee chair Pippa Mahood
said she expected
the statue would make it through tonight's proceedings.
Arts Waikato chief executive Hilary Falconer said one of the
about the statue was that it was "very controversial".
"It probably wouldn't be my choice, but it is a very exciting
public art for the community...we are very lucky to get the
Hamilton Community Arts Council manager Tracey Wood said the
supported public art for the city.
"It's very positive. It is designed to make people think,
and spark debate. That can only be a good thing for Hamilton."
Waikato Society of Arts president Garth O'Brien said the statue
would be a
talking point for years to come.
And the talking has already started. Since the Waikato Times
Riff Raff plan yesterday, it has received numerous letters,
phone calls and
emails about the statue, the majority in favour.
Ruth Fink-Winter, US editor of a Rocky Horror fan magazine
Imaginations, believed fans from all over the world would travel
to see the statue