Jeff "F@#king" Foss
Angry young Foss
I have the distinct honor of having the first ever Fan Profile that was rejected for cursing, references to drug use and adult content. I'm taking a second stab at this and I'll try to omit some of the gory details that got the first one banned. If this one gets banned then f@#k it, you really don't need to know my story that badly. So I don't blame you if you stop reading this now.
Who the hell I am:
You've never heard of me and I'm OK with that. My name is Jeff "F@#king" Foss and I was the cast leader for Voyeuristic Intention in beautiful South Pasadena, California for 19 years and I'm currently the cast leader for The Royal Mystic Order of Chaos in desolate Houston, Texas. Apparently I like casts with long names. I prefer boxers over briefs. I've played Frank once (too much work - no time to fraternize with the audience), Riff Raff for 19 years and Eddie for the past 6 here in Houston. (Eddie and Narrator is where old performers go to die.)
How I got into Rocky:
Back when dinosaurs and Jesus still walked the earth, a buddy of mine became obsessed with Rocky Horror. Well really, he was obsessed with the possibility that he was gay. He had decided that the best thing that he could do with his quandary was to play Frank and his sexuality would sort itself out. Good plan.
He's responsible for one of my favorite Rocky Horror moments: The year was 1980-something. During a school Talent Assembly in front of seven hundred plus slack-jawed kids, said psycho came storming out in a cape, terrible wig, corset, stocking, panties, and dreadful women's makeup as Sweet T roared over the gym PA system. He ripped that cape off like a superstar. The poor principal had no f@#king clue what was going but it was a perfect John Waters moment. I'm pretty sure he wasn't gay, but just trying to get laid like the rest of us. But anyway, I was hooked.
Jeff with V.I.
Begin the Beginning.
Psycho and I took up residence at the Rialto and eventually he quit. As the de facto leader, I built a cast including the vivacious and talented seamstress / performer Shelley Foss and the amazing Ray Thompson. We called ourselves Voyeuristic Intention (V.I.).
I can't say enough about Shelley's contribution to the show. If I said I wanted a spacesuit with wings the size of the Empire State Building, she would build it and do it by the very next show. She wore enormous wigs and gigantic makeup. She was the bad cop to my worse cop.
Ray really helped set the tone of our show with his long natural hair. He was funny and willing to just be himself instead of being Tim Curry. We wouldn't have been the same cast without Ray and Shelley.
I've been asked to elaborate on what made them so special but that's like trying to describe having sex. Suffice to say, Ray and Shelley are amazing performers and you should have sex with them.
Put Your Mind in the Gutter:
I first saw the Rocky Horror Show in a bowling alley bar somewhere in the sticks outside Agoura, California. Holy crap, that was eye opening! The play was so much better! The characters were recognizable but they didn't wear the movie costumes. I think that encouraged V.I. to take our characters and costumes beyond the movie.
Rocky Horror has always been about audience participation. But the play made it more intimate and dirty. We embraced that wholeheartedly. While I enjoy shows that can exactly mimic the movie (see Indecent Exposure) I much prefer shows where the performers take a risk with their characters. They make the costumes and the performances bigger, embracing the audience and taking them along for the ride. We became Rock 'n' Roll Rocky.
Jeff and Shelley with Tim Curry at the 15th
The Rebel Alliance:
Slightly before the 15th Anniversary, V.I. met the Berkeley cast Indecent Exposure, the finest cast I have ever seen. That's where I met my brother, Dr. John; Mother Superior Becky; the always adorable Jaimie, and other assorted characters. We went to their theater because we were pissed off that they got invited to be the main cast at the 15th Anniversary, held in our backyard in Los Angeles. We drove to Berkeley and saw their f@#king show and we were just awed. The cast was amazing: they had follow spots; they looked professional. We respected them.
We invited them down to see our show. Surprisingly, they accepted our offer as they were coming to town to meet with Lou Adler. We rushed home, bought 2 follow spots, ran rehearsals, built new bigger stupid gag props, and crossed our fingers. Our show was, as Ruth Fink-Winter once put it, like "an elaborate comedy sketch based on Rocky Horror" and I.E. seemed stunned by our flexibility with the material. We became fast friends and they invited us to perform with them at the 15th.
After we performed at the 15th we pretty much disappeared off the convention map.
I went to Rocky Fest 1 back in the day and it was pretty cool. V.I. went to a few conventions but what we found there, we didn't like. Conventions frequently seemed to be pissing contests. In those days everyone seemed so competitive and negative towards their neighbors. Costume contests were rigged and host casts used the conventions to broadcast how awesome they were. If I wanted to spend time with angry self-important vindictive people, I'd visit my family.
Performing Rocky Horror for Rocky Horror people is the most thankless job in the world. They second guess every cue you miss and every costume you wear. F@#k 'em.
Between that and the newsgroups - we just said screw it. You guys do what you want to do, but leave us the f@#k out of it. We became the proverbial uncle locked in the attic, left to our own devices. But we were Uncle Fester. Oh sure, we'd occasionally bait the late Midnight Insanity cast into some flame war, but that was mostly fun to see how seriously people took this crap.
GReAT RoCky HoRRoR SwINdle:
While other casts created rules about not drinking during the show, we embraced it. During our last years the show became a mix of 2 parts Rolling Stones decadence with 2 parts Sex Pistols anger and exuberance. We drank and did worse on stage and backstage. We embraced excess like it was tasty free crack. But we never missed a show.
Jeff as Eddie
And Now The End is Near:
I put in 19 years at the Rialto, performing 51-52 shows a year. I performed sick, tired, angry, drunk, stoned, and exhausted. Frequently, all in one night. But I wouldn't trade anything for those years.
However there comes a time when there's just one too many hangovers and nosebleeds, and I left my family in October of 1999. It was a tough decision, but in the long run, the right decision for me. To this day, I'm still sorry for the people that I hurt but I'm a better person for the decision.
Not So Beautiful:
After a long break, I moved to Texas. It's hard to make friends here; very hard for a tattooed, liberal Californian. There was only one place to go: Rocky.
I started performing with The Beautiful Creatures in 2006. Man, it was great! I didn't run anything. All I had to do was open for the lead MC and then do Eddie. I got to do something I hadn't in years: enjoy performing. I did what I do best: I put butts in seats. I did find it odd that I was one of the few performers on cast that owned my own costume. Everything else was cast supplied.
The Beautiful Creatures could be a tough show to perform in. If you did something wrong, the directors would just stop casting you. No feedback. No discussion. The only way to stay safe in your role was to be better at it than everyone else.. Performers were scared to take risks because it could get you kicked off the stage. I was banned from playing Dr. Scott, for example, for sporting a colostomy bag filled with urine-colored water (Rev. Foss Urine bag recipe: take one bag warm water; add yellow food coloring as desired).
Just before the 2011 Halloween show, I was given ownership of The Beautiful Creatures with instructions to run the show as I liked starting in December. One director retired and one stayed on as a "PRODUCER" or some other farcical title. Play time was over. It was time to go back to work.
In four months I did more advertisement for the show than had been done in the past year. Now, as those of you who have stepped down from being a cast leader know, sometimes it's hard to let go of your child. I think the former director really just wanted someone else to do the work. I took control and went to the formula that worked best for me: Celebrate and involve the fans and they'll come back for more. Take some risks with people and costumes. Have fun.
I took the cast and I ran with it. Apparently too far and too fast for our former director /producer. Four months after I assumed leadership we were told via email that our producer had gone backstage, taken a large number of cast costumes she'd made and told Theater Management a new group would be starting in two weeks.
Four of us still on cast had over 20 years experience with The Beautiful Creatures, but we were locked out of our Facebook cast page and The Beautiful Creatures name was retired because this "Producer" wasn't happy with the direction the show was going.
Jeff at home
Birth of Chaos:
F#ck. Adversity defines who we are as people. We were determined that we were not going to be stopped. Jaimie Froemming sent me my old spacesuits from Voyeuristic Intention. We started rebuilding. We became The Royal Mystic Order of Chaos. We just had our first 400 plus attendance this year in August, breaking a record for the past year. Even Landmark took notice of our new attendance numbers.
I still abide by a simple rule that has served me well. Each performer should want to be there and each player should be huge, trying to outdo the others. Make the costumes and makeup huge and lavish. Include the audience as much as you can and have fun. Let the cast be a family and invite them to create their characters.
I started this nonsense when I was 15. I just turned 47. I took some time off when I lived in San Francisco but I came back. Rocky Horror is the one place where most of the people who can't fit into life fit in. If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere.
I've watched the movie rise and fall as each new generation discovers it. I've worried that the video release would kill the theater experience. I figured the 15th anniversary was the end of us all. But we all continued. September 2012 will be the last time I will see Rocky on film as my theater converts to digital. I wonder if the change of medium will change the experience. We'll see.
With the advent of the 80 inch television screen, I honestly think that Rocky Horror is one of the last few reasons to go to a real movie theater.
When I think about all of the time and effort we have all put into this show, I'm pretty sure we could have cured cancer or done something more useful. But this is what we've done with our lives. We fought, we loved, we f@#ked, we performed and we made Fox millions of dollars.
If you asked me 20 years ago why I performed, I would have told you it was for the p***y. But as I get older I've begun to realize that it was so much more. It's because this is where my family is. Cast and audience members alike. They're my family. Often the only family I had.
Thank you for reading this, although I'm not sure why you did.
You can find The Royal Mystic Order of Chaos at www.rockyhorrorhouston.com
Come see our show in Houston: maybe I'll buy you a beer and we'll scream some obscenities. After all, you're family.