Live Rocky Horror Experience Struggles With Funding

by Hannah Means Shannon

By Peter S. Svensson

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has inspired geeks and weirdos for years with catchy tunes and torn fishnets. Fans still gather for midnight showings of the cult classic, throwing toast at the screen while dressing up as their favorite characters. Despite having such a devoted fanbase, a recent attempt to stage a live-action Rocky Horror roleplaying experience is failing to get off the ground.

Last month, Dziobak Larp Studios announced a crowdfunding campaign for an official Rocky Horror live action roleplaying game, with the goal of having a castle in Poland become the Frankenstein Place for a weekend February 2018. Rather than re-enact the film, the game would feature an original storyline. In it, Dr. Frank N Furter has hired a film crew to help him create a silver screen scenario of his own devising, while Riffraff and Magenta have hired a rival film crew, and both of which are using local Denton talent. The participants would serve as characters in this storyline, getting into intrigues and possibly romantic dalliances, while filming a strange B-movie and possibly encountering aliens.

Dziobak Larp Studios has been doing blockbuster live action roleplaying events for years, notably the College of Wizardry experiences where they transform a castle into the grounds of a magical university for a weekend. They’re planning the Rocky Horror LARP in coordination with two other companies. The only problem they are having is finding participants. With two weeks remaining, they have earned less than 25% of the €80,000/$94,124 they need to make the fantasy into reality. They’re having trouble just being it, rather than dreaming it.

The base ticket cost is roughly $588.00 (Or €500) which includes room and board for a 4 day event. While this is roughly on par with other events run by Dziobak, which tend to have high production values, Rocky Horror hasn’t inspired people to buy tickets like their previous games inspired by Harry Potter or Downton Abbey have. (Yes, that Bob’s Burgers episode was based on an actual event. Seriously.) Some of the issue seems to be the logistics of getting the primarily US-based Rocky Horror fanbase to fly out to Poland for nearly a week. While many would agree that having an actual castle to hold the game in is wonderful, and the US has a tragic dearth of them, it appears that not enough fans are willing to pay for the flight and the ticket to get a Rocky Horror LARP experience.

One reason why that might be the case is the characters. While the game would be officially licensed and use the setting of the film and play, the majority of players would be playing brand new characters inspired by the themes that Rocky Horror embodied, rather than playing Brad or Riffraff. The Harry Potter and Downton Abbey inspired games allowed players to take on roles similar to those found in the fictions they were based from, such as students at a magical school or servants and nobles at an English manor; whereas, the Rocky Horror game is more of a game inspired by Rocky Horror’s source inspirations, transgressive B-movies.

The number of people interested in spending a week pretending to be someone in the same world as Brad and Janet rather than re-enacting their familiar story may not be as large as needed to make a game like this a reality.

Still, those interested in learning more about this event may check out and learn for themselves.

Peter S. Svensson is a teacher, a former comic-shop retailer, a trivia master, a live action role-playing aficionado and occasionally a journalist. He’s also a big ol’ kid at heart.

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