Page updated Saturday, October 30th, 2021
For the Love of Horror - Manchester 2021
with Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn,
Stephen Calcutt and Christopher Biggins
Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th Ocotber, 2021 - Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Manchester, UK
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Thoughts from Kev McEwen
For the Love of Horror (or For the Love of Rocky Horror as we re-named it on the day) - was a two day Horror Con event in Manchester 16/17 Oct 2021, and I’m happy to say it more than lived up to its new title.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that some long-time fans have taken to social media lately, to say how sad they are at the goings-on in the audience and state of the Rocky Stage show on the Friday and Saturday late shows.
The drunken element and rowdiness of some of the people attending the performances on these weekend dates, plus the feeling of déjà vu with the production, coupled with the ongoing rise of Covid infections in the UK , has left some Rocky fans wary of attending the show or in some cases understandably sadly staying away altogether.
So, I was feeling apprehensive when I booked for the Con a few months ago. Wondering if I would enjoy it, or would I be anxious - would it be an overlong day of waiting in crazy queues like Alton Towers, but indoors with fancy dress serial killers? Thankfully my fears were misplaced. Sure there were queues to meet guests for autographs and photo ops, but the main queue was actually getting inside. Top tip - get there early and keep in mind it’s outdoors and October. Lol. So having attended - I have to confess I needn't have worried. The one thing that came across from For The Love of Horror Con was exactly that - the love - the love of all things horror - the love of all things macabre or scary - the love of all things out of the ordinary. It was genuinely fun to see everybody living their best lives dressed as the various iconic horror characters from different films. Seeing four Michael Myers characters standing silently, all tilting their heads at each other, was a funny but unnerving sight!
There were Scream Ghostfaces, Pennywise the Clowns (both old and new), Ghostbusters, Lost Boys, gorgeous gruesome girls, guys and all those in-between, vampires, zombies, and various Steampunk Horror dress codes of all description. There were many guest actors, and names from the world of horror, for you to meet; QandA talks, a merchandise hall, recreations of various horror film sets and photo ops.
Of course the majority of us Rocky fans had gone for the Picture Show guests: Tim Curry, Pat Quinn, Barry Bostwick, Christopher Biggins and Stephen Calcutt.
Even with Meatloaf and Nell Campbell sadly having to postpone due to covid-related travel issues, it was a major coup to get such high profile Rocky names together in the same place.
While I think Timewarp's own Transylvania 99 convention in Woking in October 1999, still holds the record for the most Rocky Horror guests attending a Con in one place (Oh, how I’d love Timewarp to run another Con!), for the Love of Horror pulled out all the stops to get these Rocky legends here.
The chance to meet Tim Curry and Barry Bostwick meant a great deal to a lot of UK fans, although the price involved with Tim would ultimately prove very costly - it was mitigated partly by understanding and offsetting his current cost of living.
So for me to sit and chat with the man who in my teenage years completely turned my head and gave me hope and inspiration to be a better and more confident person, was genuinely a once in a lifetime event and I know how lucky I was to be able to do it.
Tim was gracious and interested in what I had to say, and I’m sure everyone who was lucky to meet him that weekend will agree it was very special.
I know I was speaking for so many fans who were unable to be there, when I ended saying a simple “Thank you” – for not just Rocky but his life’s work – that it came from all of us, and was genuinely meant from the heart.
While obviously very tired, Tim stole himself up before meeting each fan. His resting face seemed reflective and quiet before engaging with each person. It was lovely to see his face light up when I said how happy his work had made me - “I made you happy, thank you, that’s good,” and with that just about recognisable Tim Curry smirk he said “I’m glad.”
Tim was separate from the main con area, which meant it was quieter both in noise and in people. The other Rocky guests were to the side of the main stage which meant the noise level at times was very loud.
I met Barry and Pat and the gang at 9:20am when the arena was empty. So had a long conversation with Barry about Rocky, what Barry is up to now, and Brad's character. Funnily, we both agreed Brad should be played truthfully – not mugging or a goofball, but as an all-American Hero who, although fallible, truly does his best in a bad situation and would do anything to keep Janet safe. He said he never understood how, over the years, Shadowcasts and stage shows present him as an idiot.
He beamed and punched the air when I said “Frank is who we all want to be, but Brad is who we all really are... A bit lost, but trying to be a decent person and get by day to day.”
I had previously seen Barry at the LA Con in 1995 and we chatted about that. He asked about Shadowcasts in the UK and if he could see any while here. I told him about the casts in Scotland and the occasional “Rocky Horror Allstars” cast that I have performed with - with Pat Quinn and Richard O’Brien in London at various cons and film showings, and showed him the footage and photos to which he said “That’s not your regular fun shadowcasting – that’s a professional performance stage level.” I know Gia and the gang will be so proud of that praise.
Barry was a real gent and very personable, keen to talk more and I genuinely would have chatted for longer until the crowds started to come in at 10am - hopefully Timewarp will be able to bring you something more with Barry soon.
Pat was a delight. I had not seen her since the Shadowcast at The Grand Theatre in Clapham, and she was happy to chat. Biggins was in pain following a recent knee operation but Dr Showbusiness kicked in and he was his usual effervescent self, delighting everyone who went past his table with a wave or a giggle.
Stephen Calcutt was lovely and eager to please those fans who attended. He said to me how he had Timewarp fan club to thank for him enjoying this new wave of events, as Transylvania 99 was the first con he attended and he enjoyed it so much he has never looked back.
Stephen now attends and enjoys appearing at cons all around the world - meeting the fans of Rocky Horror, Star Wars, Doctor Who, James Bond, Harry Potter and the many other film and tv shows he has appeared in.
We chatted throughout the day and he was keen to explain how much he enjoys these cons as “It allows me to give something back for the wonderful life and career I’ve had... I try and make sure everyone who comes to talk to me feels valued - they don’t have to buy anything, I want to thank them to talk to them... Films provide a relief from real life and it's lovely to have been part of something someone has enjoyed.”
I stayed most of the day by the Rocky cast at the side of Stephen’s table so was able to see so many great friends and lovely fans of the show.
I managed to take (with permission) a few photos of the many Rocky fans in attendance - everyone was having the best day - all, like me, so happy to meet the cast close up and personal.
It was so good to meet everyone in a less rushed and intense atmosphere than of late, when you are pushed in a crowd from pillar to post in a theatre foyer, or boozy theatre bar. It has reignited my love for engaging a little more personally in fandom (having moved into the background a while ago) and made me realise that we do have the best cast, and some of the nicest fans out there.
Like I say, it was not only a day full of the love of Horror... it truly was a day full of the Love of Rocky Horror.
Kev's images from the day, click on a thumbnail for a bigger version.
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