SHOCK TREATMENT HISTORY IN KANSAS CITY

(Written by Donny O'Bryan)

OAK PARK MALL (1983)

    When I first started the fan club for Rocky Horror in Kansas City, back in 1982, I hadn't even heard of "Shock Treatment" the sequel (oops, equal) to Rocky Horror. Then one day in early 1983, I was at a music story, talking about Rocky Horror to one of the employees there, and he said, "Did you see Shock Treatment?" Confused, I answered, "No. What is it?" He replied, "The sequel to Rocky Horror."
    My heart fell to the floor. I was already in cloud 9 for Rocky Horror, could there be another cloud waiting for me to jump onto it? I couldn't believe my ears. I asked if it was a musical, and he said, yes, that there's even a soundtrack for it. He told me it was out of print (already) and that it would be difficult to find. He did, however, have a soundtrack, unopened, at home, if I wanted it. DID I WANT IT? What - is he crazy? Is he on crack? Of course I wanted it! He promised to bring it back on the following Saturday. I bought it Saturday for $10. I ran home and played it on my record player. The songs wereweird, different, but  kind of addictive. I wondered what scenes went with them?
    That weekend I told my theater (Oak Park Mall) that there was a sequel - and "Could you play it?" Two weeks later, Shock Treatment played in one of the theaters as Rocky played in another. Not knowing what I was getting into, I was excited to see it! I promoted it for two weeks straight with flyers, and had a good turnout on Friday (most of whom didn't stay through the entire thing, and didn't return on Saturday). I understood why. It was an odd movie, very confusing at first. No audience participation whatsoever, and very different in story compared to Rocky Horror. Hell, the film didn't even make any reference to Rocky Horror (with the possible exception of Janet's mom saying "Thank goodness he didn't end up like that Slipstrini boy" - referring of course to Brad's seduction of another man and Danny Slipstrini sleeping with 15 men - Mexicans). What a disappointment. I was very anxious for it to leave. But in the back of my mind, I thought, "What if it were an audience participation film one day?" Little did I know, one day I would set out to make that dream come true.
IN TOPEKA, KS (1986)
    The few years I spent in Topeka, KS were important because they taught me how to organize things regarding fan clubs and audience participation. I decided there to tackle Shock Treatment again. The reason I am mentioning it here in this "Kansas City History" site is because I learned things from that Topeka experience that I carried over to Kansas City.
    The first thing we did (the fan club in Topeka) was rent and copy the video tape release of Shock Treatment to learn shout lines. What we came up with were very few. The only props we threw were toast and balls (Ping-Pong). What we lacked in audience participation we made up for in dressing up in costumes (I don't remember if we acted though). And our best promotion: the Shock Treatment trailer, played 2 entire weekends in front of Rocky Horror. (I should have grabbed that trailer when we were done with it - what was I thinking!)
    Another good advice: Don't show Rocky at the same time in a different theater! We learned that one in Kansas City a few years back.
    The show was unsuccessful, but a bit more than it was in Kansas City's first showing.
OAK PARK MALL (1991)
    When I reformed the fan club in Kansas City upon my return from Topeka, Kansas, one of the things I wanted to do was try Shock Treatment again, because the Topeka experience of Shock Treatment was far better than KC's first showing of Shock Treatment. My only stumbling block: Oak Park Mall knew from the first time around that it wouldn't make money. So they said no. I offered this solution: A petition of 300 signatures. I got them, and more! Many people didn't even know what it was about, or that it even existed! We planned on it for 2 months later, giving us time to promote and prepare.
    Our fan club met every Sunday to practice shout lines (no focus on costumes or acting). Many of our regulars turned away after one meeting. There were too many "dead spots" in the shouting. But I was beginning to like the songs after several years of hearing them, and the movie was no longer "bad" for me. It wasn't "good" either…it was like "neutral" to me, and didn't bother me to watch it. When it came down to it, the songs were pretty cool!
    Finally the weekend arrived, and once again, Rocky was shown in another theater at the same time, offering salvation to those "regulars" who couldn't handle Shock Treatment. Ironically enough, no one (or perhaps few) shouted lines except me. On Saturday, I was the only person shouting the few lines, and finally I gave up. They pulled it after one weekend.
    Here's the weird thing. Even after it went away, I felt some kind of accomplishment - having had people meet each weekend for lines (though the attendance was few). I always knew there was STILL hope for Shock Treatment, but getting to that level was still far away in the future).
TRAILRIDGE CINEMAS (1998)
    With Rocky Horror's most successful time being at The Trailridge Cinema, I decided to give Shock Treatment a try. Once again, the newest regulars didn't even know about Shock Treatment's existence. I gave my sales pitch to the theater as well as the group. Everyone seemed up for it, and we gave it a try. We planned on 4 months of practice each weekend with shout lines. This time around, we focused the meeting on only 5-10 minutes of footage at a time, not stopping until there were NO dead spots of shouting during each segment. It was a success! After 3 months, there were lines throughout the entire film, without even ONE dead spot! My dream was starting to come true! And we had devoted regulars who went, even if they agreed that it was NO Rocky by any means, they wanted to experience this new limelight! As far as shouting audience participation went, we were ready.
    The question arose about acting. I suggested to the group to get actors form other cities to act it on the first weekend, and we could act it out on the second weekend. They were all cool with that, and even put together a cast lineup. The Chicago cast (Midnight Madness) did the honor of acting it (Brilliantly, I might add!) and the first weekend (a double feature with Rocky, both nights) was a success! The best ticket turnouts in a long time! Even the second weekend was successful, a rarity for Shock Treatment in the country. My dream had come true.
    The second weekend was even good. Our cast acted out wonderfully! I was very proud of the regulars and actors!
    Unfortunately, our group tends to follow and support each other's opinions to keep friends with each other. If the over mass of people think Shock Treatment sucks, the others tend to support that opinion to agree with their friends. It's like they were too embarrassed to admit it if they did like it. Here's my point: If it sucked, how come the "virgins" stayed throughout the entire movie EVERY single weekend. The few (and I do mean few) regulars who shouted or acted entertained the non-regulars enough that most of them stayed for the entire film! We few regulars at Shock Treatment were doing a good job. It's too bad others were too afraid to have fun with it. They preferred to bitch about it because their friends did. The theater asked me when I wanted to get rid of Shock Treatment, so finally one weekend I got tired of the lack of support from my "friends" that I said to "pull it" after 9 successful weekends. Had it been any other city, it would have lasted longer and had more fan club support inside the movie.
    Since my "friends" decided not to help me support Shock Treatment, I have decided not to support Rocky Horror (except through the webpage). I am taking a long break from Rocky at the theater, no longer providing my support or help if they run into trouble. Perhaps this will help redirect some "regulars" motivation and dedication. Or perhaps it will crumble and fall. That is to be said.
    At this point I would like to thank all the regulars who didn't support Shock Treatment. I made many people laugh all by myself (and the help of very few actors and line shouters). Keeping people in Shock Treatment for the entire length of the movie - laughing - is quite an accomplishment, and I am proud to be part of the few that pulled it off.
    I'd like to thank those few that were actually dedicated. You know who you are! Thank you very much! (smile smile smile).
THE FUTURE OF SHOCK TREATMENT IN KANSAS CITY
    Even with dedication to Rocky Horror, Kansas City has always been a little behind the dedication that is evident in other cities. Even my friend Jeff Mace has said that after watching productions and casts from other cities on video tape. And Shock Treatment is no acception. Shock Treatment is growing popular in cities all over the country. I'd like to think that what I (we) accomplished in Kansas City in 1998 with Shock Treatment was a big step in helping Shock Treatment survive everywhere else. They can borrow our audience participation and make it grow. Think about it: In the beginning Rocky Horror was a flop for mainstream. When audience participation began in the late '70s, people thought it was weird, and it took a while for it to grow. I believe Shock Treatment will do the same. Hell, we showed it consecutively for 9 weeks at one theater, with few people walking out! Can any other theater say that? After making the world record for most consecutive weekends at one theater, the owner has said that Shock Treatment WILL return one day at Trailridge Cinema (assuming Rocky can survive without getting pulled). When that day comes closer, I will get together a group of regulars and be even more successful. We will be the Shock Treatment fan club of Kansas City. We will call our fan club "Farley Flavors' Fan Club Factory" and our cast will be called "The Friends Of Farley Cast" We will be even a bigger success than we were this year! Until then, see ya!