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September 2007 Fan

Michael Hess

Mike as Frank (1) Michael Hess first heard about the The Rocky Horror Picture Show several years before he would get the opportunity to see it and the idea of getting to go to the show became an obsession. In October of 1984, he was finally given permission to go to Movies at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, MI for his first midnight experience. "I walked out disappointed. There weren't any of the dressed up weirdoes I had always heard about and only two guys knew the audience dialog." Still, he thought their script was hilarious and was determined to learn it. Scared to death that she would never let him go back, his mother attended his second screening and she had a ball. She found the Audience Participation album at a local record store and they, along with his sister Lisa, set to learning the script. To celebrate the theater's 5th Rocky Horror anniversary the following April, Diane (Mom) Hess made costumes for the three of them. Before the film was over, they had unknowingly started a live floor show. Over the course of the next several months, others joined in.

With Gary (Pops) Hess in tow, the entire family journeyed to New York for the 10th Anniversary Convention. Thinking he was there to protect his family from the oddballs of New York, Gary was the odd-man-out for his second ever screening of the film as he wasn't in costume. Mike and Lisa were thrilled to meet the stars of the show and get to participate in the Question & Answer session. They returned home with added enthusiasm of what their little show could become. The cast named themselves Shock Treatment and began to work on re-creating what had happened in the Big Apple. It took a little convincing, but the theater management gave the green light for a real pre-show. Mike and the Detroit Fox Theatre Wurlitzer Organ Now armed with theater spotlights, a professional sound system and a cast of 30, the theater was regularly doing fantastic business and Shock Treatment brought back live floor shows to Michigan. Because of the success of the Anniversary, Sal Piro announced a possible tour of RHPS theaters and Shock Treatment wanted to be sure to give him a good audience, should their theater be chosen for one of his stops. So they began to plan a convention. In the midst of putting it all together, a small war broke out between management and the cast and Shock Treatment pulled out of the theater. Within 24 hours, they had a new home at Warren Cinema City in Warren, Michigan and the Convention plans were back on in a new location. Sal's tour was canceled but the convention was still on with Sal as the special guest. On July 26, 1986, they hosted a sold out event and a good time was had by all. That Halloween, the theater had to turn people away from the box office and the cast performed a fully choreographed (maybe one of the first versions) of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Sadly, inner quarrels got in the way and in April 1987 (almost two years to the day of the first appearance of costumed fans at Lakeside), the group disbanded.

Mike as Frank (2) Mike returned to Lakeside where he would M.C., rile up the crowd and put together a cast of performers every night. "Those were fun times too. I'd pull people up who had never seen the movie to be part of the live show and they always had such a good time that they'd come back!) During this time, he began to assemble trivia questions and it eventually became "The Ultimate Rocky Horror Trivia Quiz" book, sold through the fan club. He graciously turned over the reins of the show, but continued to support the efforts of the group that was trying to assemble a full-fledged cast. In 1990 he flew to L.A. to attend the 15th Anniversary Convention and shortly after, Sal asked him to assemble a list of memorabilia to be included as a Collectors Guide in "The Audience Participation Book". The Rocky Horror mafia (once you're in, you're in for life) grabbed hold of him once again and he was back in the fishnets as Frank and MC with Simply His Servants at Lakeside. (That's when he got the nickname "2-Sex-C"). The cast performed until United Artists pulled the plug two weeks after Halloween, 1992. Because Rocky Horror doesn't regularly play in his area, his involvement has been limited. But any time it's playing locally, he can be seen in the audience, with his wife, Greer. "She doesn't like the movie much, but goes to support me. But she loves the stage show!" The last major event they took part in was the 30th Anniversary convention in Las Vegas. "We renewed our wedding vows at the convention and I won the trivia contest. That's not shocking, since everything I know in life is trivial!"

After 1,000 midnight screenings at over 20 venues in 6 states, as well as attending 16 different stage productions, Mike still finds Rocky Horror as fresh as it was for him in 1984. He still keeps his memorabilia collection, safely put away, but ready to be hauled out for anyone who wants to see it. "I stopped buying new stuff pretty much after the 15th Anniversary. So, everything I have is the old, rare stuff that the kids don't get to see that often. I find myself referring to them as kids, because I'm usually the oldest Rocky Horror fan at any given theater I go to, now. I frequently find myself saying at 11 PM, why can't they start this friggin' movie at a decent time? I should be in bed already. Damn, I'm old. No, I'm not they're just young!"

Mike singing with Marie Osmond "I've been out of the Rocky Horror loop for so long. I'm so happy to have found Rocky on the Internet and get involved again!!!"

Mike and his wife live in Harper Woods, MI with their dogs just seven houses down from where his mother grew up. Aside from his Rocky Horror past, Mike's shining moments have been to play the rarely seen or heard Wurlitzer theater pipe organ at the Detroit Fox Theater, his past stage-hand work with such luminaries as Paul Anka, Martha Reeves, Steve and Edie, and the Righteous Brothers, but especially his on stage duet of "Blue Christmas" with Marie Osmond. "She was the first major crush I ever had only replaced by Olivia Newton-John." He's living proof too, that time heals all wounds. "I remember my entire Rocky Horror career fondly even the events that were terrible at the time. They made me who I am today. Don't dream it, be it. And remember Don't eat your pillow!"

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