Monday, December 18, 2017 03:19

Cast Blog: Crew


When I was 13, this girl I had a crush on asked me to go see this weird movie with her. I had no idea what I was in for. But by the end of the show, I was in love. I never saw that girl again, but I’ve seen Rocky — er, a few times — since then. I went to shows every week and it became an awesome escape for me from my shitty adolescence. Eventually, life caught up with me and I basically abandoned Rocky. Sad, I know.

BUT EVERYTHING CHANGED WHEN I MOVED TO PITTSBURGH! The JCCP are truly the most welcoming bunch of people ever. I moved here because I was trying to find my place in the world, but I didn’t really find it until I joined this cast. That’s the amazing thing about this ridiculous movie; it brings a bunch of weird and awesome people all together. And I’m so happy to be a part of it.


The first time I ever heard of Rocky was in the perks of being a wallflower, and i didn’t fully see the movie until a few years later. The first time I saw the movie was around a year ago today, and I went to my first show very shortly after that. As soon as I went I could tell it was a place with great people and was a lot of fun. I continued going to shows and bringing friends with me and then I decided to join crew. The cast and crew were very welcoming and some of the best friends I have ever made. Rocky quickly took over my life and I wanted to go to every show, but the commute from dormont to plum was too far so I moved within walking distance of the theater. Helping out with crew was great, and my favorite part was doing the spotlight. It was great because I focused on just the actors and made me really appreciate how good of a job they do. My favorite part of helping put on the shows is seeing the audience interact and participate and have fun. Rocky to me is a place where you can forget about social norms and daily stress and have a good time, and I love experiencing it and helping others experience it too. The jccp feels like a family to me already, and I can’t wait to continue being a part of Rocky.


Who I am?  I’m the girl with the camera.  The one who captures all the sexy, dorky, comical faces. You might not know me but you know my friends through me.  I’m the memory keeper of The JCCP and I take my job very seriously even though I can be heard saying the most ridiculous things like: “A hair band on your wrist is NOT a character choice.” or “Get closer..closer, CLOSER!” or my personal favorite..”Don’t be dead in the picture, please.”  Yes. I’ve. Said. That.

I’m lucky to be a part of the most talented, funny, charismatic bunch of people and I’m afraid every day that they’ll see through me and realize that I’ve smuggled my way into this group and I offer nothing but my big mouth and my camera.

Best time of the year is our annual photo shoots as we wander around Downtown Pittsburgh in costuming, like a gang.  A well dressed, fishnet wearing gang.  And I’m the gang leader.  We’ve taken over the fountain at The Point, Market Square, The Incline, The Clemente Bridge and of course, our home, The Hollywood Theater in Dormont.  Have you seen the pictures of Sideburns or Sam The Hobo literally hanging off the Clemente bridge?  Or Mighty Mouse, as Frank,  licking a parking meter outside The Hollywood?  Stop reading this now and find those pictures on our Facebook page.  Glorious. Did you happen upon our picture hanging in Pamela’s, in Squirrel Hill?  Look for it.  Again, glorious.

I’m a wedding photographer, did I mention that?  Oh, yeah.  I get so many brides who beg to lick parking meters or dangle off of busy bridges.  So, if that’s your thing, look me up.

As I wrap up my little blog, I want to encourage you to please come up and say “hi” to me at the shows, (Oct. 9th 10pm, 17th, 24th, Halloween, November 14th, 28th and Dec. 5th and 19th-Shameless plug, #sorrynotsorry), I love meeting new people and as cast members are well aware…I love to talk to people and again, book your wedding now and I promise to sterilize the parking meter first before I have you lick it.

Jen (The Photographer) Springel


I came into Rocky at a hard time in life. Many of my friends had moved out of state, and I found old age turning me back into the wallflower I had so desperately tried to drown. I had heard about the whole Rocky Horror experience some ten years before by reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and tried for two years after the “Perks” movie came out to convince my friends to go with me before eventually deciding to go alone in April 2014. I was fortunate enough that first time to choose a seat next to an avid fan and future crew member, and the energy of that experience had me hooked from the ice breaker.

I joined crew at an even harder time of life. I had just gotten my driver’s license back from a DUI/ARD suspension, and was struggling to build a life without alcohol as a primary feature. I went to a cast meet and greet where I met a wonderful group of the most dynamic, inclusive, and interesting people, and I knew I needed to be a part of that. I joined crew, and it has become the foundation of a new life that isn’t about drowning my sorrows, but dancing with friends. While I am still the new guy it has been truly wonderful getting to know such a fun and welcoming group of friends,and really an honor to be involved in putting on a show that means so much to so many.


The JCCP’s crew has been asked to be a part of the JCCP experience and to contribute their “my Rocky story” to the blog for October. I thought it would be an easy task and the stories I’ve been wanting to tell would easily flow through my typing fingers. I couldn’t wait to sit down and write again. I was confident I could come up with plenty of word vomit without any issue.

I was wrong. This is tough – like super tough.

The sentence you are reading now was originally not the first sentence of this paragraph. Why did I delete the original and change it? Because I do not have a single clue on how to tell “my Rocky story.” Everybody’s blog that has been written so far has been amazing and I’ve learned a lot about a great group of shadow-casters – the stars of the show.

That isn’t me. I try to avoid the spotlight.

Telling “my Rocky story” shouldn’t be so difficult. I don’t even know where to begin. You’re probably thinking, “Just start at the beginning, shit-head” But, what constitutes the beginning for “my Rocky story?” Is it the first time I saw this cult classic? Could it be the first time I saw it with a shadow-cast? Perhaps it could even begin all the way back from the day I was born?

Nope. Nothing is clicking.

So, after many deleted paragraphs and staring at this stupid blinking cursor, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to begin at the present and just spit out some information about being a crew member for the JCCP. I’ll slowly work my way backwards and probably jump around to different things and nothing will be coherent. Maybe, then, you can piece together information and help me find, “my Rocky story.”

Good fucking luck.

I sit in the shadows and I hand people their props. That is about it. On occasion, I’ll zip somebody’s zipper and fuddle my way through hooking somebody’s corset together before the floor show. I also set the throne before Sweet Transvestite while the spotlight is off the stage. I run my side like a fucking boss that most of the cast members deem that side of the stage, “stage Steve.” I know it’s only because the actual names of the sides of the stages can get confusing and this makes it so much easier for blocking purposes; however, when I first heard that, it put a big smile on my face. It made me ecstatic that I joined crew and more reasons kept on coming.
The best reason I can come up with is that these people that I’ve become friends with are probably one of the best group of friends I’ve ever had.  In the past, when I joined a Facebook event for a show, it would be lonely because I would only have one or two friends that would go. Now, it blows my mind that every event I join, has at least twenty friends that are going.  These people aren’t just acquaintances either – they are friends of the best kind. Because we fucking play board games.

​This is the best part.

I don’t have a giant coming-of-age story to tell about how I got involved with the JCCP. It can be told in two words – they asked. After my twentieth show, the MC of the night, asked the audience if there was anybody who wanted to join crew. I thought to myself, “This is my way in.” I looked over to my wife and said, “I should do this?” She shrugged. I asked again, “Should I do this?” She responded with “Do you want to do this?”

​I wanted to do it. I needed these people.

I was a little obsessed with the JCCP. I loved going to shows, not only because of the great experience, but I got to interact with some of the coolest people in the world. I used to write all the time, and therefore, I tend to people watch. When I would go to show, after show, I would notice differences in cast members. There were improvements being made – not only in their performances, but also in their overall way-of-life. Watching these positive transformations made me want to be a part of this show and learn their secrets. It made me want this group of people as a group of friends. I had to find a way in, somehow. So, I thought about auditioning for cast. But, only thought about, never pursued.

​Not me. I avoid the spotlight.

I’m overweight. At this point in my life, I hated being in pictures and I hated looking into mirrors. So, I could never join cast. I didn’t want to be shirtless in front of an audience full of people and wonder how many people were grossed out by me. It’s something I’ve been dealing with my entire life. I’ve had my ups and down with my insecurities and it’s something that I’m constantly working on. I couldn’t do something as confident as shadow-casting with my issues, so I just continued going to shows and hiding within the audience and their shadows, preferring not to be seen.
But you better fucking believe I wanted to be heard.

The callbacks are amazing. I love yelling the same stupid jokes at every show. I secretly wish for virgins to be around me so they can hear these jokes and want to come back. Oh man, I try to scream at my loudest. I try to scream so loud that I can’t talk the next day. I want people to hear the jokes, I want people to laugh at the jokes, and I want people to come back to the next show because they had a fantastic time.  That’s what happened to me. The JCCP had me addicted after going to my first show. At the Saturday Halloween show of 2012, when the sold-out audience began shouting “a long, long time ago” in unison – I knew I’d be back.
The audience is something special and to be honest, they’re probably my favorite cast member of the show. I remember standing in the lobby, at my first show, looking around at all the costumes these people came up with and thinking “this is something I want to do all the time.” There were too many people to count and I didn’t even know them, but we were all there for the same reason – to goof off. I looked at Denise, my then fiancé, and thought to myself, “I’m so glad she brought me to this.”

This is important. Remember this.

While we were dating, Denise made me watch this movie. I didn’t really understand it, but I liked the music. Every so often, she would yell out something at the screen and I would laugh and think it was pretty clever. She went to a shadow cast in her hometown once and she always wanted to go back. I promised her that, eventually, we would find one together and she could show me what I’ve been missing.

But we had to wait. THIS IS THE WORST PART.

I knew there were shows at Morgantown while I was in college. Sometimes, I had a group of friends that were planning on going – but I refused. I had to wait until I could go with Denise. We had to go together. I couldn’t experience this awesome show without her. If you’re wondering on why I couldn’t just take her with us is because we found each other, even while being miles apart. She lived seven hours away, with her being in North Carolina and myself here in Pennsylvania. (This won’t go into detail on how we ended up together, but I bet that timeline is somewhere online on my “not-so-dead” journal.) I tell myself every day that I’m glad we’re no longer dating because it was literally the worst part of our relationship. We had our phone conversations, and we had our online game playing, and I would visit her as often as I was able (which was maybe only three to five times a year.) But, those visits ended. I had to drive away. The worst feeling you can get is seeing the person you love the most in your rear view mirror and not knowing the next time you’ll get to be next to them or hold their hand. Seriously, think about a person you care about more than anything and imagine yourself just being connected by a cellphone for months at a time. I cannot watch people say goodbye in film or television anymore because it reminds me of what we used to go through.  All we could do was wait until our lives were able to be brought together.​

Oh. Wait. I’m onto something

Denise has social anxiety. It’s hard for her to be in social situations and I try to let her know that her feelings are valid and nothing will push me away. Awesomely though, when she’s sitting at a Rocky show, she can open up a little bit. She will scream with the rest of us, dance with the rest of us, and be a goof with the rest of us. It makes me incredibly happy that people can see a little piece of what I get to witness every single day. She prefers to stay in the shadows, but Rocky provides a little bit of light for her and she will embrace it.
So now we watch Rocky together at every showing the JCCP does. I work crew duties, and she yells her callbacks with the audience while we watch an amazing cast and an amazing crew do an amazing show.

I got it. I figured it out.

I couldn’t write “my Rocky story” because I don’t have one. It’s not just about me. It’s about the cast, and the crew, and the audience, and Denise.

It’s “our Rocky story.”

This is what Rocky is about. It’s a community of people who can get together, not be judged by who they are, or where they came from – you just exist in the ninety minutes of this classic movie. But, we all know this. We’ve seen this been spoken about before. It might be cliché, but it’s the fucking truth. I’ll say it again, there isn’t any group of people I’m more glad to call my friends.

They make me dance.

When Denise and I started going out, I lost a lot of weight. I was more determined back then and probably did some things I shouldn’t have and eventually got too skinny and then eventually gained my weight back. But, I showed a picture of my skinny-self to a cast member. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I looked so good back then. I hate myself now and I wish I could go back to that. I hope this person says something positive about this picture so I can maybe get back at it.” This person looked at my picture and said, “I like this Steve better.” And that’s when I knew I could slowly stop caring about my looks. I could stop thinking that people were watching me all the time and judging me negatively. I was just a person to these people, not just a bunch of fat.

It could have been different.

I remember one Halloween night when I was in my early teens, I was at my dad’s and I was sleeping. It was about 11:00 and he woke me up asking me if I wanted to go to Rocky Horror. I told him, “Shut up, I’m trying to sleep.” I asked him the next morning about it because I didn’t know anything about it. I told myself that maybe it was something I could try someday.I wonder what kind of story I would have if I would have went that night; however, I prefer the way it happened and I won’t take anything back. “Our Rocky story” is still being completed – there is a long way to go and we’re nowhere near closing this book.

Now what?

I’m looking at this document and now I’m wondering on how to end it. It’s going to be very difficult to end “our Rocky story.” It’s something I don’t want to ever happen.

So I won’t.

Leave a Reply