Oh, the Rocky Horror!

Arriving at Chandler Cinemas on a recent Saturday night feels like walking into a subpar episode of The Twilight Zone. The strip mall that houses the cinema (along with a Target store) is huge, but at midnight on a weekend, the entire place is gloomy and dead quiet. When I step out of my truck into the vast, empty parking lot, I can't even hear the traffic from Arizona Avenue. I half expect Rod Serling to emerge from the shadows around the dark cinema marquee and start some surreal spiel about how nothing is as it seems here.

But the cinemas are as barren as they seem. There's nobody near the theater entrance, save for a few teenage boys milling around on the sidewalk, loudly complaining that their nipples hurt. When asked why their nipples hurt, they are unable to give any reasons, but they ask me to come over and talk to them.

I pass on the opportunity to get hit on by guys half my age (no, I won't buy you beer) and enter the theater. Inside, there's a svelte blond guy wearing nothing but gold lamé underwear, speaking with a heavy lisp and saying something about "I'll show all you bitches." He's surrounded by a handful of women wearing vinyl bustiers, fishnet tights, and costume makeup, as well as a couple of guys in full dress suits.

They are members of a production company called Come As You Are, and they serve as the local cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Save for a dozen or so other people hanging around the depressingly bare concession stand, they're the only signs of life inside Chandler Cinemas. I'm hoping that there's a larger crowd already inside the theater.

Luckily, there's a substantial audience waiting for the movie to start — about 80 or so folks who probably come here every weekend. I have a hard time finding an empty row. My friend Stacks and her date, Mr. Fantastic, are supposed to meet me and my girlfriend, and I'm saving seats for them. For the past half hour, I've been besieged by frustrated text messages from Stacks, who can't find Chandler Cinemas, which is about as conspicuous and easy to access as ancient texts housed deep in the Vatican library. Mr. Fantastic finally looks up a map on his iPhone and they arrive 15 minutes into the film.

Before the movie starts, the cast holds some sort of "animal orgasm" contest, in which people win prizes for imitating how certain animals might sound while reaching their primal peaks. I was bummed that Stacks and Mr. Fantastic missed the guy imitating a moose orgasm, because it was one of the most entertaining aspects of the night.

This is not my first time attending The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I used to go every weekend as a teenager in Indianapolis. One of the things we did that I did not see in Chandler was a "virgin auction," wherein first-time attendees were auctioned off to seasoned Rocky Horror-heads (virgins were supposed to sit next to winning bidders during the movie). The bids were always abstract and silly. My virginity was auctioned off for a keg of beer and the carcass of some guy's wife, stretched from Tennessee to Ohio. Eventually, I became a member of the cast that re-enacts the film in front of the big screen. My character was Magenta, one of the aliens from Planet Transsexual Transylvania, and I played her role because my hair is similarly dark, long, curly, and frizzy.

Now, I never attended Rocky Horror because I thought it was a cinematic masterpiece. It's a rather crappy British rock musical, actually. Made in 1975, the film's a flashy-but-cheesy pseudo-sci-fi musical starring Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon. The plot revolves around the newly engaged couple of Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Sarandon), who stumble upon a creepy castle after becoming stranded in a rainstorm. The castle belongs to the cross-dressing diva Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Curry), a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania" who has just created the perfect man for himself (Rocky, played by Peter Hinwood, who runs around in nothing but gold lamé Speedos for the entire film). Lots of death and sex and singing ensue.

The appeal of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (for me, anyway) was the social experience. It was one of the few weekend events I could attend as an underage kid, and it was a haven for all the miscreants and misfits in town. I could get picked on, spit on, and tripped in the hallways of my high school all week long, but on Saturday nights at Rocky, I was the shit, and everybody accepted me. Nobody at Rocky Horror calls anybody else a freak. That'd be like Jeffrey Dahmer calling flesh-eating Third World tribes "disgusting cannibals."

But this experience at Chandler Cinemas is different. An aura of elitism hangs in the air. The Come As You Are cast clearly goes all out, with full stage props, including the big red box/operating table, from which Rocky is born, and a castle wall with a window. They threw rice during the wedding scene, sprayed the audience with water during the rainstorm scene, and ran up and down the aisles, pulling the audience in to participate.

Unfortunately, their diligence and attention to detail also extends to enforcing some "rules." Nobody from the cast talked to me and my friends, unless it was to reprimand us. For example, there's a scene in the movie where Brad and Janet first approach Frank-N-Furter's castle, and it's set to a song called "Over at the Frankenstein Place," which contains the line, "There's a light over at the Frankenstein Place." Traditionally, audience members hold up lighter flames during the chorus. But at Chandler Cinemas, that's apparently a big no-no. I was approached by one of the cast members and told, "No natural fire," as other people in the theater waved their cell phone lights. I totally understand and respect that rule, but I was a little miffed when a second cast member came by a few minutes after I had already put my lighter away and admonished me again. Perhaps the presence of unruly underage kids requires such vigilance, but I'm an adult, and I need to be told something only once.

After the film, two Mesa police cars were sitting in front of Chandler Cinemas, watching a couple of female cast members loitering around their car. Two women hanging out in a parking lot isn't usually suspicious, but these women were still dressed in their Rocky costumes — fishnet tights, super-short pleather miniskirts, and black lace bustiers. They looked as though they could have been soliciting. The officers asked to see their IDs. I left while the police were still looking curious and asking the women questions, but I can imagine the explanation: "You see, officers, there's this silly cult classic movie where people run around in smutty outfits, and we dress up and pretend to be characters in this movie and we throw rice and stuff . . ."

Luckily, they probably didn't have to explain losing their cultural virginity to a corpse and a keg. Not even Rod Serling could explain that one.

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17 comments
Layal
Layal

Mountain out of a molehill, all of you. Matt, you need a PR person to censor your posts for the sake of nothing but your various projects. I tell you that as your friend, not to be mean or anything. You run a business; therefore you have an image to uphold. Seriously, at least send me rough drafts of what you're going to say and I'll edit it for you.

I�m not sure you guys read the same article I did, she wrote one or two sentences at the most that might be seen as negative, when all they are is an observation, she even praised you guys for what she noticed was a lot more effort than the theater she used to go to.

the whole point is, this is her observation of a night out, if it had been her intent to smear you, trust me, all of you would be crying right now, including me, because yes, Rocky did save me from myself when I was alone and underage. I just can't believe how cleaned up and kid friendly the atmosphere has become, so I can relate to Niki about the whole lighter thing, i certainly don't remember that rule, and I went in the early 2000s!! Btw, I'm not against it cleaning up to stay legal, it's just an observation.

Crystal O'Hara
Crystal O'Hara

My husband,step-daughter and I went to RHPS this past weekend. I have to say we had a great time. I'm the shy one of the family but I have to say the cast made us feel very welcome. My step-daughter Megan was visiting and she really wanted to go since she just turned 20 and had never experienced it in a theater with a live acting troupe. We talked about it all day Sunday because how often do you see your husband and daughter on stage and laugh together as a family.

BTW, hubby and our other daughter are talking about going to the 100th episode this weekend. Yes we had that much fun.

Niki, I hope you take them up on their offer to see it again. Each weekend is never the same.

Leonard
Leonard

Big Gay Jon, I think you directed this question at Niki: "As far as your cast encouraging showing up drunk/stoned well how long ago was that?"

Niki never said or wrote anything about this. You must confusing her with this comment from Machelle Couch (scroll up): "When I first started going, it was not only encouraged that you attend drunk, stoned or both but you could purchase whatever you wanted in the bathroom."

I guess we ALL need a little clarification now and then.

Shaniqua
Shaniqua

Speaking as an individual who has been involved with Rocky Horror since high school, I can tell you that this article reads more like a livejournal post of a person from a visiting cast than it does of a journalist.

I've been involved with two rocky horror casts- Broadway Bound and Gagged in Phoenix, and now Full Body Cast out here in Cambridge, where I act as a security tech.

The differences between cast dynamics are notable indeed- but one thing remains the same: Rocky Horror is a haven for "freaks" to celebrate their freak-dom, & no open flames are permitted in the theater. Ever. It's something that we take very seriously in our theater in Cambridge for fear of the brick oven people-ria effect. This is a standard procedure that transcends many casts these days, because nobody likes the smell of charred human remains, and Rocky casts have to keep up their relationships with theater owners.

That being said, every Rocky cast is going to be different. That's what is so neat about the culture from an anthropological standpoint- it's a fascinating study of interpretation, humor, and fetish.

In my limited interaction with Come As You Are, I notice a very dedicated group of people doing their best to put on a great show despite a lackluster theater location. It's an interesting dichotomy of veterans and spring chickens working together to build an environment of professionalism and credibility as a cast. I applaud their efforts, each and every one.

I think you will also find that if you really observe a cast, you will notice a bizarro world from the cast you know- there are always going to be certain types present which you will be able to relate back to your individual Rocky Horror involvement.

You had stated that you were involved with the show in your former years, and it's easy to become biased when you sink too far into the culture- but that's when you take a step back, observe a new cast as if you're seeing the show for the first time, talk to cast members, audience members, and then formulate your respective opinions. After all, as a journalist it is your job to seek out the information, not absorb it by osmosis.

E. Adam thomas
E. Adam thomas

Nikki,

As a former cast member of CAYA's previous iteration, I have had the joy and disdain at seeing the Rocky phenomenon at its best and its worst. There have been times here the backstage drama was so intense, it spilled out into the crowd. Those times were few and far between, but it happens. I have distanced myself in recent years from the cast for reasons of trying to be a responsible parent and also trying to finally get an acting career underway. I haven't seen the current cast at Chandler Cinemas since they opened, so I will not waste yours or my time blindly defending them. Loyalty does not mean blatant fibbing.

However, I have to say that i have never seen a review of anything, be it a theatrical performance, motion picture, rock concert, or third grade Christmas pageant, spend so many words decrying a performance, yet saying so little of its content. It's almost as though the only object of memory for the whole evening was a moose orgasm and a dastardly attempt by the cast to abort your God-given penchant for micro-arson. I actually got the impression I was reading a long rambling rant on Fark.com, and not an actual review in a newspaper. Now, I'm certain you are a fine journalist when within your comfort zone, and it's apparent that, to you, Rocky was more like the Romulan Neutral Zone. Still, if you were really that egregiously disgruntled by your experiences that night, should there not have been more relevant details of your distaste to publish? Was the girl who played Janet inept? Was the dancing off? Were the props in a shocking state of disrepair? Was your soda flat? I mean, seriously, there was no content at all regarding the 90+ minutes between the opening Fox logo, and the final hurrah of the cast asking everyone to leave, beyond the obviously traumatic lighter incident. I mean, Imagine the horror; Being asked to observe FIRE CODES!

Okay, seriously, if you honestly disliked the show, that's fine. Maybe my old cast mates are slipping or something. It would just be nice to see some actual examples of what made it so awful, compared to your illustrious Shit days.

Peace and carrots,

Boritom

Big Gay Jon
Big Gay Jon

If memory serves I was the guy with the heavy lisp playing Rocky that night. For one I dont like journalists or reporters of any type, none of you seem to be able to write the truth and have a habit, wait no scratch that, addiction to exaggeration and stretching the truth to make the facts sound ten times worse than they are. If you had been a good reporter you would have asked questions introduced yourself to the cast and fellow audience members and asked questions instead of making observations and assuming everything you have written in your article. I have been with Matt and various incarnations of ROCKY for almost 5 years and have seen many cast changes as well as location changes. Yea I am gay but the way you talk about me as well as my fellow cast members you make us sound as if we are better than you and everyone else and we make sure you know that. THat could not be farther from the truth. If anything when it comes to me I am a very friendly person and only enact the stereotypical gay voice and actions to give people a laugh. As for the rest of the cast, I am sorry you were told twice, however ignorance is no excuse, its simple common sense not to spark a lighter when inside a commercial area. WOuld you spark up your lighter inside of the mall?

Im sorry we are not the cast and the show you remembered growing up but like with all casts of any show, every show and every cast will be different and have its own way of running the show. Our virgin initiations are different every show and we keep it legal, offensive of coure, but legal none the less. Like my fellow cast mates have stated we want to create a safe and welcoming environment for those out there who are otherwise marginalized by society. The goths and other freaks out there who get beat up at school and get thrown out of the mall purely because of how they look.

I found ROCKY because of friends and was welcomed into the cast by Matt. As a teenager still coming to terms with being gay and not knowing where to go ROCKY was my haven. ROCKY was where I could go and be myself and not worry about somebody jumping me because I was gay. Not to mention it was ROCKY that kept me from getting addicted to drugs or getting drunk at some party and at times even killing myself. Everyone that I have known through ROCKY have been the greatest friends and part of the reason why I joined cast was to help creat that awesome atmosphere that welcomes all us freaks and societal outcasts.

If I can keep one more kid from drugs or an abusive home life or feelings of suicide by giving them a place to look forward to coming to at the end of the week then I have done my job as have the rest of the cast.

Again if you you come again and you actually take the time to introduce yourself and actually do some investigative reporting (like a good reporter should) you will quickly find we are a very friendly cast and very welcoming.

As far as your cast encouraging showing up drunk/stoned well how long ago was that? Laws have changed, not only is it simply illegal to be there like that risking having it in your car and dangerous for those around you, if you were to leave in that state and get into a car accident who would get the blame for letting you leave like that? The last place you left would. It's not just protecting yourself from your own stupidity but also covering our asses. Im sorry we didn't kiss your ass but we arent going to put on a face trying to give you a better time than anybody else just to get a good review. There is no such thing as bad press. Yes we are not in a very good location, personally i like it that way because it's less likely for vandalism or potential hate crimes.

Matt has been thanked on numerous occasions by the Chandler Police for creating a safe environment for teens to go to instead of doing drugs or going to a kegger. Parents have also thanked him for the same thing. I can't help but agree with everyone else when I say that I suspect that you only wrote this article because you were getting to your deadline and hadn't found anything you wanted to write about. This lead to you being in a bad mood, you saw an article on ROCKY in a previous issue so you decided to come out and bash on us as a last minute resort.

I hope you do decide to give us a second chance and get the guts to talk to us. We are a very fun welcoming cast, with rules. Sorry if rules put a bad taste in your mouth but we have them for a reason. Keep in mind it also takes an open mind to enjoy yourself at one of our shows.

Matteo
Matteo

OK, so, at times, I can over-react, act like a jackass and make a fool of myself. In this instance, I'm guilty of at least one of those things--overreacting.

Upon talking a more measured look at it, yes, Ms. D'Andrea did have some positive things to say about our production. Also, a friend of mine did some digging and found that in the recent past, Ms. D'Andrea has posted some very positive things about the theatre in general, supporting us in our time of need and doing her best to encourage folks to come out to our events.

So while I stand by the bulk of my sentiments and do not retract them (ie, I completely disagree with this piece), I should probably have expressed them a little less harshly and with a little more forethought. This I regret.

I reacted so strongly mainly for one reason: I have fought to keep elitism OUT of ROCKY for a long time (and to keep ROCKY alive, period); so I bristle at the mere suggestion that it's there (though certainly I'm also a bit stressed and overwhelmed at the moment with the enormous job of keeping the theatre alive, which certainly contributed to my short fuse and my going on the defensive). Of course, I'm not naive enough to think there will NEVER be any cliquishness at ROCKY, but I do my best to keep it (and DRAMA) to a manageable minimum. So I guess I take it personally that this is all someone might have perceived.

In any case, Ms. D'Andrea and I have now communicated directly; she understands why I reacted as I did, and conveyed what her intentions for the piece were. We have agreed to disagree in some areas, but all is well.

I may be a bastard, but I'm a conscionable bastard who can admit when I may have stepped over a line.

But genuine thanks to all who spoke out in our defense! See you at the show soon!

Sincerely,

Matthew M. YenkalaCome As You Are cast founder/producerChandler Cinemas owner/operatorazrocky@gmail.com 602 502 8421

Tori
Tori

mis�cre�antn. An evildoer; a villain.

That's very nice of you. I have to agree with everybody else in saying, well, sure - we've changed, but before you go pointing fingers at us for being such 'miscreants', look at yourself beforehand, IE, all the suggestions Matt made about things you could have done at the show to improve it for yourself. We cannot simply serve everyone; I'm just curious as to know if you were with the group of people who were pissed off about the pre-show being too long. I'm going to assume not; seeing as your friends missed it. To each their own! I really hope you DO come again, though - maybe it will be different.

Sarah
Sarah

Ok, Ms Smug ass reporter. Great way to crush an underground fucking cinema that work their ASSESS off to make the show awesome for everyone. And what the hell are your talking about "elitism"? ALL of the cast members are the kindest people I have ever met. This is a place where i can go and feel a great connection with these people. Forget school, everyone there thinks i'm such an outcast. At this place i feel so great! Everyone is friendly and give me respect that no one else has ever given me. I love going to Rocky and I try to go as much as I can! In less than a YEAR Chandler Cinemas have made the show from good to AMAZING. A lot of people at this place have sacrificed a lot. Especially the new manager guy who is now the OWNER. You didn't mention anything about the cast's dedication to the show and all you did was insult those people. You should be fired for being so bias!

Silent
Silent

Although I no longer really go, I can honestly say that I was kind of flabbergasted by your article. I have been going on and off since I was twelve and have seen several different casts in several different locations put together the show and as such, I know better than to base my current experience upon past showings. Not a single cast does the show exactly alike, you will never find the same setup that your first cast had because that is part of the joy of Rocky. Every cast is different and each brings their own unique swing to things. Clearly, from your description of your experience as a regular Rocky participant, laws and safety concerns have changed drastically before I even began going and that was about fifteen years ago. Because with every year, our society either becomes more aware of pre-existing issues or simply makes up new things to be worried about, I always make a point of reading the disclaimers listed in the programs handed out at the door. This way, even if I somehow miss the vocal disclaimer at the beginning of the show, I will be aware of the rules and won't need to be told multiple times to behave. It seems like perhaps you should advocate such a habit for yourself. Simply paying attention to the written and verbalized disclaimers would have saved you a lot of humiliation and reprimanding.

Perhaps what I find most appalling about your article is how harsh you came down upon your entire experience. Having been a former cast member in a Rocky show, I would have expected an encouraging word to help promote a cultural experience that is sadly dying. The Rocky Horror Picture Show does offer a place where outcasts and "freaks" can go and be with others who will welcome them with open arms. But, being a place for such people, it recieves enough critism without your bitterness added. You went, apparently expecting a recreation of your memories from not only another cast but another cast in another state, and when met with something new that has changed to meet with today's standards, you responded with hurt feelings and scathing words. It is not their fault that the show didn't live up to your standards, it is simply that you went in expecting something that no show as of today can live up to. It has changed and perhaps you might try it again but with a more open mind. After all, that's what Rocky's all about, having an open mind and being willing to try new experiences.

Lux
Lux

Well, I'm sorry you didn't have a good experience at our show. I guess it takes all sorts; perhaps the show just wasn't your type of thing. See, we have to enforce the rules and disclaimers heavily nowadays because certain people have really done us some damages without them (IE, our last theatre, our last Dennys, etc!). I'm sorry you didn't like it, I really am. I don't understand this elitism you speak of - I'm in cast and I don't have any problem with anybody there. I'm not 'elite' and neither are any of us. I'm also sorry you felt that vibe - we certainly didn't want you to. Anyway, you are always welcome back at the show - either it's not your cup of tea, or maybe it was just a dull experience.

-Lux-

Machelle Couch
Machelle Couch

I have been attending the Rocky Horror picture show for 27 years, it has changed. When I first started going, it was not only encouraged that you attend drunk, stoned or both but you could purchase whatever you wanted in the bathroom. Now, as the girls you saw being carded will tell you, we will call the police if you are obviously drunk. That is why the Chandler Police, not Mesa, were there that night. The girls had started a problem and we have a no tolerance rule dealing with alcohol or drugs. We make this a safe place for the social misfits to come, have fun and be accepted. We just have to follow common sense rules.

I am glad you enjoyed some of the pre-show, although you missed the disclaimers, in which the pre-show hosts state the rules. Though there are not many, the ones that are there are in place to ensure everyone's safety and compliance with not just our own rules but state laws as well. Certainly one of the biggest being that no open flames are allowed in the theatre, other than the man in the gold Rocky outfit. That has only been the law for the last 20 some years, no smoking or lighters are allowed in any movie theatre regardless of the showings or audience enthusiasm. Sorry if you had to be told 3 timesbut we are used to dealing with kids. Perhaps next time you will either be there for the disclaimers or read your program which has all the rules listed. That way there is no misunderstanding.

Thank you and please come again,Machelle Couch

michelle_eris
michelle_eris

I'm 65 years old, and was introduced to Rocky by my daughter about a dozen years ago. I am also a veteran of Come as You Are and some of its precursor casts. Age does take its toll, and I'm not able to handle the late hours as I once did, but wish that I could so I can be active with Rocky.

The Rules have a purpose; they are there to assure a safe environment for the audience, and are really common sense: No drugs or alcohol, no open flames, no sex, etc. Don't throw anything at the screen; it's very expensive.

So you got told twice not to have open flames; horrors! Considering that the rules presented before the film said that, why did you light that lighter in the first place?

Oh, by the way, I'm sure those cops knew about Rocky and had no problem with the attire those kids were wearing. However, Chandler does have a curfew; I suspect that the cops were checking the kids' ages to see whether they were violating that curfew. You being a reporter, I'm sure that you knew about the curfew; after all, it was headline news just two or three years ago. It must have slipped your mind.

Take Matt up on his offer; go to the show again, but this time with an open mind and without the attitude that you want to write a hatchet job.

Amanda P.
Amanda P.

I have been a cast member with Come As You Are for about 2 years now and i have to say i love this cast.... Maybe you had a bad experience and for that i'm sorry... But you have to give us another chance... Our show is awesome and we have a great cast. come again, we'll give you the respect you deserve

Amanda

Matteo
Matteo

OK, as a followup, this is my direct response to Ms. D'Andrea's piece; I'm calling her out. Why not share it with the world?

Niki,

I'm going on the assumption that you actually read the comments section of you stories online; If you haven't yet, I encourage you to do so before reading this direct response. I won't repeat what I stated there, but I will, however, elaborate, and add to it the following:

I couldn't hide my own bias in this matter if I wanted to, which I don't. And like I said, I can take a hit. But really, your article was meandering, shallow, masturbatory, smug, and quite frankly, badly written, regardless of your subject matter. And even a biased reader could only come away from it with, "Well, I guess she didn't have a good time". Indeed, there seemed to BE no point to you piece, except that perhaps you couldn't find anything else to write about this week.

Ultimately, it seems like you're not only faulting us for not being ROCKY as you remember, but also for not kissing your ass. "Everyone accepted me, and I was the shit". Well, the first part of that sentence is how ROCKY should be, and it's how I run ROCKY; but the second....you're missing the entire point. It's not about YOU, it's about US--ALL OF US.

ONE OF US.

And as for (paraphrasing) "no one would dare call each other at ROCKY a freak"--WTF are you talking about?

That's what we ARE, honey. Freaks and geeks, misfits and dreamers, loners and losers--a community of outcasts banded together to create our OWN community, in which everyone is welcome, and no one is shunned, unless they MAKE themselves UNwelcome. "Freak" is not derogatory--it's a badge of honor. Much as the gay community has taken the Nazi Pink Triangle and made it their own, I'm PROUD of my "freak" community.

As for enforcement of "rules", again, if any of my people were overbearing, I AM truly sorry. It can happen. Running a cast of 50-odd teenagers through 30-somethings is akin to herding cats. I and my senior castmembers do our best but we can't be everywhere at once. Regardless, I wish you'd had the courtesy to complain at the time.

But since that seems to be your only legitimate gripe, I'm going to chalk this one up to a disgruntled writer with nothing better to do than trash a group of people who are trying their very best to keep something alive that SHOULD be kept alive.

Having said that, my invitation stands. You're welcome to attend the show again, any time, on the house (though be aware I will be absent from this coming week's show, but should be present at every other show until the last week in September).

The door is open.

Sincerely,

Matthew M. YenkalaCast Founder/Producer, Come As You Are EntertainmentOwner/Operator, Chandler Cinemas

Amanda
Amanda

I'm glad you went to Rocky as a kid. AS a teenage Rocky participant, I undersatnd the whole high school halls thing. You have to understand though, you most likely didnt like Rocky now because thats not who you are anymore. It may have been a flashback, but as we grow older, we grow out of our awkward years. As did you. But hey, theres no such thing as bad press. Thanks for writing about the theater. :) I hope you do choose to come back on one of our themed nights and see how much fun you have talking to the owner (Matt) or some of these so called teenage miscreants. :P

Love and Candy,Amanda

Matteo
Matteo

OK, full disclosure: I'm the owner of Chandler Cinemas as well as the producer of almost every Phoenix-area ROCKY event since 1999. I have spent much of my life in that time trying to make ROCKY the best experience I can make it for the audience and cast alike.

Having said that, I can take a hit, and constructive criticism is not a problem for me. But this review puzzles me.

Yes, ROCKY has gotten "tamer", by some standards. Yes, we have to disclaimer up the ass. Yes, any number of aspects of our show are in a constant state of improvement, and things can vary from week to week. But I'm still a bit puzzled as to what your actual POINT is, other than to say, "it's not like I remember ROCKY from when I was growing up".

See, Nikki, we are in complete agreement that the social atmosphere is the most important thing of all. Indeed, the name "Come As You Are" was very specifically chosen to express my personal philosophy, that ROCKY is a place where EVERYONE is (and should be) welcome.

If some members of my cast have failed to convey that spirit to the audience, then that is my fault, and I apologize.

However, it really just strikes me that you're faulting us for not being the same ROCKY you grew up with, and that's just plain unfair.

See, ROCKY is the ultimate chameleon--ageless and timeless, it changes from year to year and location to location, despite certain constants. And one of those constants is that everyone's first or hometown ROCKY is their best ROCKY.

Had you made an effort to socialize and get to know anyone there, I think you would have come to a different conclusion about our "elitism". We have a strong regular audience who make it a point to come back AND bring their friends precisely BECAUSE I strive to create that "everyone is welcome" atmosphere.

And certainly if you had bothered to talk to ME, you would have been told my philosophy of ROCKY in no uncertain terms--it's hardly something I dislike talking about. But then I don't know if you went intending to write an article or if you simply saw then show and then decided to write about it afterwards. Either way, I suspect you came in biased against us from the start. Indeed, the tone of this article is almost...personal.

Either way, it's disappointing to me that you would base your entire opinion on this one seemingly negative experience without making an effort to find a positive corollary.

As for how "busy" my theatre is at 11pm at night, it depends. Saturday is almost always our best day of the week, between our regular movie, my partner Andrea's "Midnite Movie Mamacita" projects, and ROCKY, it's highly unusual for the snack bar or lobby to be empty at the hour you describe.

It's true we're struggling; it's true we're fighting a bad location, a bad economy and very thin resources. However--and here I have to take pride of place--the fact that anyone is even attempting what we are doing (independent cinema in the Valley) is a miracle in itself. Even if we fail (which we will not), we can say we achieved something no one else has in a long, long time.

In any case, I'm glad your opinion is solely your own. Our many other friends at New Times seem to feel entirely differently about us. And as we're one of the better attended ROCKY shows in the country, with average weekly audiences ranging up to 150 or more (80 is the very low end), I think we must be doing SOMEthing right.

But of course it's a free country and you're entirely entitled to your opinion.

But if you ever wish to come back and give us another shot, you have my invitation to do so--on the house. How about our 100th show on August 2nd?

The door is open.

Matthew M. YenkalaFounder/Producer, Come As You Are EntertainmentOwner/Operator, Chandler Cinemasazrocky@gmail.com chandlercinemas@gmail.comwww.azrocky.com602 502 8421

 
Phoenix Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • July
  • Tue
    29
  • Wed
    30
  • Thu
    31
  • Fri
    1
  • Sat
    2
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    3
  • Mon
    4
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