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PCR Archives 2002
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Established A.D. 2000, March 19.  Now in our third calendar year!
  Number 136  (Vol. 3, No. 44). This edition is for the week of October 28--November 3, 2002.
Spook Show.....

and the Royalty Theater


American Idol....the final verdict?

With the way things have been going for me since last summer, and the economy in the worst shape I've seen in memory, I KNEW ALL I NEEDED TO CHEER ME UP THIS SEASON WAS A GOOD SPOOK SHOW!! Ha ha, I'm not kidding. Due to my harrassing work schedule (the schedule sits in a drawer and laughs at me---I know it does), I had managed to miss every Halloween goody and event to come our way this season, but I was determined NOT to let it pass me by completely . I just didn't now what I was going to do.

Roy HustonThen, a couple weeks ago I got a press release from "ShowBrat4", aka, Diane Phillips (director of the independent film "Gibtown", and also was helping at the theater), announcing a Spook Show at the venerable Royalty Theater in Clearwater. The included poster was drawn up my another local filmmaker, Andy Lalino (director of the soon-to-be-released "Filthy"), who I contacted about the event soon afterwards. The complete press release and poster were published in the PCR last issue.

I was confused as to why it didn't get much press otherwise, because it seemed like such a cool thing. At this point, I figured it may have been a smaller deal than I thought, just one step above community theater, but, hey, what's wrong with that? I decided I was going anyway, and decided to draft Scott van Sickle to go along and co-experience this festivity. I'm glad we went.

One Scream BeyondFrom the time I step foot in this old theater to the end of the show, the words "quaint", "charming", "historical", and "sincere" just rang in my head.

We made our way down to the center of the house and ran into Andy and his friend setting up video equipment to capture this event. (Sometime later Andy and I made an informal agreement to co-market the video, which I'm only too happy to do.)

Scott and I sat down among a thin turn-out of maybe 30 or so people. I thought "how sad"---here's this guy Roy Huston with a long legacy in show biz and nobody knows he's here. And yet I also felt strangely giddy at this turning out to be a more private and personal experience.

Around 8:10pm, a deep and heavily-accented voice came over the PA and announced the show would start in one minute. As the lights dim, the deep voice (turned out to be the voice of the theater owner Socrates Charos, so the accent is Greek I take it), proceeds to outline the history of the Royalty Theater. I confess, before Wednesday night, and only really knowing the majestic Tampa Theater and its legacy, I had only been barely cognizant of this place, and only then because of references to it being "haunted" (via my paranormal pursuits). I thought "What a great place for a spook show." I had no idea it was the oldest (still-operating) theater in Florida, or that it had also been an opera house, movie palace, playhouse, concert stage and porno joint. After that last one, the theater closed for a while in the mid-80s. The city fathers nearly turned it into a parking lot (seriously) before preservation society-types intervened.

Finally, the star and master-of-ceremonies, Roy Huston (rhymes with Dustin) emerges, and we give energetic applause. This man has such a rich history in magic, spook shows and stage performing, I barely know where to start. But, let's just say he's been affilitated with many major acts in the "classic" sense (pre-David Copperfield) from the Golden Age of Stage Magic. I was immedately taken with his confidence, stage presence and sense of humor.

After an initial volley into classic tricks like flowers appearing and disappearing from empty vases, and some small levitation gags, he moved into telling ghost stories featuring ghostly props. Even if the trick got a little complicated, or there was a minor technical gaffe, Roy kept the audience laughing. Always at his side was his male assistant ("Dave" I think), although occasionally, a lovely young woman (in those classic "magic" leotards) would appear (or disappear if needed).

To keep the audience properly nervous: a screaming woman being attacked by a skeleton ran across stage once, then off again. Later in the show and without warning, a masked, Texas-Chainsaw/Jason Vorhees maniac--weilding an operating chainsaw--ran across the stage while some audience volunteers were standing there! (Ha ha, loved that.)

Other highlights: the "dancing ghost" (made from a handkerchief); having members of the audience come up and help out with a table-levitation; the "ghost box" where a tied-up Roy is trapped with noisy poltergeists who play instruments, then throw them in the air! A sawing-a-woman-in-half; another levitation between two chairs (this one with the female assistant); an orignal piece featuring a woman traveling to the "other side" and returning; and the absolute climax: "The Crematorium", where a woman, placed in a box, is seen to burn down to her skeleton! As a last-minute gag, a gorilla attacks Roy out of nowhere! (Actually, an actor in such a poorly-fitting ape costume, he had to hold his mask up manually to keep it from shifting--but what the hell, we were havng so much fun we didn't care).

It is worth noting that almost all (or all) of Roy Huston's stage props are original pieces, decades old, which he inherited from a variety of performers. Much of his act is based on classic scripts, and he also displayed original "golden age" magic posters from his collection. Roy Huston performs "One Scream Beyond" one time and one time a year only---at Halloween, and we were there!

After the show, I met up with and spoke to Socrates Charos, the owner of The Royalty Theater. I have every confidence the Theater is in good hands--he expresses great enthusiasm about his theater and about the theater community itself. If given a chance, he can recite the itinerary of the entire season. I encourage everyone to check out their website at RoyaltyTheater.org. I also wish to thank Diane Phillips and Andy Lalino for the head's up that this was even going on. Guys, you saved my Halloween for 2002!

American Idol...the final verdict?
OK, OK!!! I'm prepared to eat a little crow here...just a little. I admit I was a wee-bit short-sighted in last summer's prediction that the "American Idol" winners and losers would fade quickly into oblivion after the "contest". Call it an underestimation of HOW F&*$KING STUPID American TV programs can be and still succeed. I BLAME IT ON A DEARTH OF GOOD, COMPETITIVE PROGRAMMING AND THE LOWERED EXPECTATIONS OF THE TV VIEWER.
Christ Almighty, they're planning "American Idol II" and we'll have to suffer through this all over again. BUT, OK, yes, I know winner Kelly Clarkson has a video on MTV promoting her new single/album. And, oh yes, I know the white Michael Jackson, Justin Guarino who lost to Kelly, is currently guesting on all kinds of shows and touring himself. We'll see where they are a year from now.

BIRTHDAY WISHES: Overlooked last week: To Mike "Deadguy" Scott who turned 31 years old Monday, October 28, 2002. Many Happy Returns! See Mike's column for an update on his marriage situation.
Local actor and Florida Folk Hero Gus Perez called to inform me that the team who put together the indy horror film "Raging Bells" are back to work on a murder-mystery called "Forbidden Tango"--and both films are due out in November! (Seems like November will be extra-heavy in indy film action around here!)

La Floridiana This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
Will and Greg's Excellent Adventure in Miami. Okay, so I get no points for an original title, but one of my best friends, Greg Van Stavern, and I did our yearly pilgrimage to Miami for the annual South Florida Airline Historic Society's airliner collectables convention, and it was indeed an excellent adventure. Last year was the only year that I made the trip alone as Greg had just recently wed Dee Dorsty.... ..................................Click here for more.

Movie ReviewMovie Review
This Week's Movie Reviews:

Review by Mike Smith.  Wow! That's the first thing that popped into my head after seeing this film. And it wasn't because of the great story, excellent writing or direction. No, the "Wow" that I muttered was for the understated performance of one Mr. Adam Sandler. Yes, THAT Adam Sandler. The guy with the goofy voices and the goofy songs. Good old Billy Madison. Wild Happy Gilmore. The Waterboy himself.... ...........................Click here for more.

The Digital Divide This week's issue
Music News and CD Reviews
by Terence Nuzum
A SPECIAL HALLOWEEN ISSUE BY TERENCE NUZUM! ...........................Click here for more.

Deadguy's Dementia This week's issue
Deadguy's Dementia by Michael Scott
Best Laid Plans... This is what could be considered a sequel, and grand finalé to, arguably the most popular Dementia of all time: #116, where Mike described his surprise marriage proposal to his fiancé, Kristin Wilgus. I admit this is a lengthy Dementia, but I found it to be an extremely moving tale. --Nolan ......................................Click here for more.

Mike's Rant This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
CONGRATS To the Anaheim Angels.........MUCH THANKS To all of the law enforcement agents who brought the two suspected DC Snipers to justice .........PASSING ON: Richard Harris, Adolph Green........ ..................................Click here for more.

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.

Readers: recently, Mike "Deadguy" Scott contacted me about collating the results of our latest PCR challenge "The Top 10 Vampire Films of All Time" into a re-organized list form, based on points. Weird, yes, but typically Mike and I encouraged him to run with it. The original submissions were featured in PCR #134, and PCR #135. The results are published below for your perusal.---Nolan

Top 10 of the Top Ten Vampire films: (44 different films listed, total)

50 points: Nosferatu (1922)
30 points: Dracula (Lugosi version) (1931)
27 points: From Dusk Till Dawn
21 points: Interview With The Vampire (1994)
18 points: THE HUNGER
17 points: Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
15 points: Fearless Vampire Killers
15 points: The Night Stalker
14 points: Fright Night
12 points: Horror of Dracula (1958)

This list is based on a point system awarding ten points for the first movie on the list, and 1 point for a movie at the end of the list. Many contributors claimed their lists were in "random" order, which means all films in their selection were awarded 5 points each. I tried changing everyone to an equal vote (1 point each vote, regardless of list position) but 10 movies tied for 10th place.

Of the winners: Nolan had 9 of them in his list, Followed by Mike Smith with 8 of them.

Mike [Deadguy]

I don't know if I have the right person but, regarding a piece published in PCR # 75 (recalling local horror hosts--N), I just though that you might like to know that the actor who played Shock Armstrong was actually Paul Reynolds. Also, I appreciate the description of the show because I never got to see any of the episodes. He was my grandfather, and I know he would be really honored to know that someone remembers his show. Even though he technically had a better job at WAGA in Atlanta later in his life, I know he was really proud of the All-American Ghoul.


   Dawn, you have the right guy, and it was an honor to hear from you! Rest assured, the name Paul Reynolds did indeed make it into the "pages" of Nolan's Pop Culture Review at a later time (I originally called him "Paul Hoffman" in issue #75). Because of the nature of this online "magazine/newsletter", older articles are seen as "back issues" and almost never updated--corrections are simply published in later issues. Admittedly, this has led to some confusion among newer readers who are finding me through search engines, so another re-design of the website is underway for 2003!
   As far as anything having to do with "classic WTVT" Channel 13 Tampa, I always refer folks to the VERY EXCELLENT Big 13 website, created and maintained by Mike Clark, a former station employee. Further information on "Shock Theater"--and anything else on Channel 13 from the 50s through the 80s--can be found there.---Nolan

Good seein' ya last night -- thanks for coming out. Quite a slice of history, huh? Never thought I'd even get to see an actual Ghost Show, let alone participate in one! Liked your homage to the show on NPCR - I was touched. (Re: "Spook Show", headline section, this issue, above.--N)  Roy did an amazing job - it was a classic performance - great magic, corny puns, a Gorilla(!), skulls, skeletons, spooky music...it was paradise to the classic horror fan, which I am proud to say I am. Roy is the last of the true Ghostmasters, and the best! Thanks to all for coming out, including my wife Sandy, my Mom, and our esteemed Crew Filthy members Kevin Bailey (Production Designer) and Eddie Sturgeon (Sound Designer) and fans such as yourself who help to preserve and keep alive such fascinating elements of magic/horror film history. A special thanks to Diana Philips for asking me to assist her and Roy in this unforgettable Halloween event.


--Andy Lalino
Director/Producer/Screenwriter "Filthy"

My pleasure, my friend--glad to help support such a worthy cause. I agree it was a very special night!--Nolan

Dear Editor,
It is with great pride in being associated in the slightest way with Mike Scott that I write this. His tale of love conquering all is definitely one of the best pieces I have ever read in the PCR (not including my own, of course.........just kidding). (Re: "Deadguy's Dementia", this issue!--N)

Mike, I hope that Kris and Jordan realize what a fine, loving man you are. What strikes me the most is that not once did you think about how your choices would effect you, just that you were going to do whatever was necessary to take care of the ones you love most. Men like you are very rare indeed, my friend!

I was just going to send this as an email to Mike, but I couldn't resist sharing my thoughts with everyone that reads our little mag. My sincere best wishes to you and your new family.

Michael (the other Mike who writes stuff) Smith

To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

"Mike's Rant" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty    "The Digital Divide" is ©2002 by Terence Nuzum    This week's movie review of "Punch Drunk Love" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith    "Deadguy's Dementia" is ©2002 by Michael "Deadguy" Scott    Add'l thanks to Andy Lalino and Michael Smith for their input in "Letters", and to Deadguy for his Vampire list thing, also in "Letters"    Thanks to Dawn for helping us honor the memory of Paul Reynolds ("Letters")      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova

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