What REALLY Happened to the People Involved in the Denton Affair: An Expose

by Judge Oliver Wright (retired)

PART ONE: The films and their accuracy

____It has now been nearly twenty years since "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," the docudrama based on the now infamous Denton Affair, was released. I only got around to seeing it on video this week. I've been told that my character comes off as a stuffy, longwinded bore, so naturally I've put off seeing it for quite some time. My wife, Betty, has been pressuring me to see the film for years, and I finally caved in and made a rare trip to the video store. At the request of Richard O'Brien, I had seen "Shock Treatment," the unofficial semi-sequel to "RHPS" when it was released, but my memory of the film had become quite fuzzy, so I rented it, too.

____Having seen "Rocky," I thought I was portrayed quite fairly. That Charles Gray chap is quite handsome, no? I did so enjoy those James Bond movies he was in. Of course, I would never dress that way, and I have never danced on a desktop in my entire life. I am more inclined to dress as Mr. Gray did in "Shock Treatment," in which he once again played me -- or at least a fictionalized version of me. Actually, I was a judge at the time of the Denton Affair, not a "criminologist" as the credits indicate. The case merely became a hobby of mine after the real-life Dr. Scott, who has since passed away, bounded into my chambers in the late fall of 1969 to tell me his wild story.

____You read right. 1969. That's when the events described in the movie ACTUALLY took place. For reasons known only to him, Richard O'Brien chose to update the story to 1974 when he co-wrote the screenplay for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." He even added a topical reference by having Brad and Janet listen to Richard Nixon's resignation speech on the radio.

____To this day, I have no idea why Dr. Scott chose to come to me with his story. All he said to me was that I was the only person in Denton he could trust with his story. It was Dr. Scott who provided all the evidence which I used when writing my book about the subject, which was called "The Denton Affair: A Study in Excess." To avoid legal action from the real-life Brad and Janet, who were not keen on having the events publicized, the book was not published in the United States but was circulated throughout Europe and Australia. That's how Richard O'Brien first got his hands on it. In 1973, he used the book as the basis for a stage musical called "The Rocky Horror Show." The real-life Brad and Janet were about to sue, but decided against it after receiving a large sum of money from O'Brien. They have never seen the film or the play, nor do they have any intention of doing so. Two years later, Richard used that play as the basis for a movie, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Although initially unsuccessful, the film has -- I've been told -- gotten quite a cult following which continues to this day. Surprisingly, most people interpret the film as a comedy (probably owing to the upbeat rock compositions added by O'Brien). In reality, the events were deadly serious. Or at least Dr. Scott thought they were.

____Interestingly enough, in the credits, Richard failed to mention my book, although a copy of it can be seen during Charles Gray's scenes. Richard even had the audacity to say that the events in the film were ficticious. No matter. The royalty check was real enough, and revenues from the film and its merchandise have allowed me to retire comfortably.

____How accurate is "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"? Well, let's say it comes close. Yes, Brad and Janet attended the wedding of Ralph Hapschatt and Betty Munroe (who is now my wife -- more on that later). Yes, they were trying to visit Dr. Scott when Brad's car got a flat tire. And yes, they were fortunate enough to stumble upon the home of one Dr. Frank-N-Furter on the very night the good doctor was about to unveil his unnamed creation (the name "Rocky Horror" is purely of Richard O'Brien's fruitful imagination) to a crowd of eager Transylvanian spies. The rest of the story is fuzzy. According to Dr. Scott, both Brad and Janet admitted to having sex with Dr. Furter. Janet, furthermore, owned up to a romantic encounter with the creation. Dr. Scott is more sure of the other events of the evening -- namely, the "cannibalization" of his nephew, Eddie, and the eventual death of Dr. Furter.

____Some parts of the movie do not follow my book. There was, for example, no one in the house named Columbia. My assumption is that Richard invented her character to bring a bit of comic relief and sex appeal to the film. Also, Frank's home was indeed impressive -- a mansion, you might say. It was hardly, however, the forboding castle seen in the film. (More sensationalism on O'Brien's part?) There was no so-called "sonic transducer" nor were the people in the house turned to stone at any time. These science-fiction elements were added to lure thrill-hungry audiences weened on such fare as "It Came From Outer Space" and "Forbidden Planet." Dr. Scott was neither German nor crippled. It seems that Richard O'Brien had a fondness for the movie "Dr. Strangelove" and decided to use that film's title character as a role model for Dr. Scott. Most importantly, there was not very much singing during the evening. The Transylvanians were dancing to a recorded version of "The Time Warp" when Brad and Janet arrived. There was a perfunctory rendition of "Happy Birthday To You" during the famous dinner. And Dr. Scott seemed to remember a bit of singing right before Frank Furter's death -- the scene now known as the "floor show." Scott said that Furter had "spiked" their drinks during dinner and that he had participated freely (as did Brad and Janet) in the dancing / singing / swimming orgy portrayed so colorfully in the movie. No mind control devices of any kind were used, he insists.

____The ending of "RHPS" is significantly different from the end of the story Dr. Scott told me. In the film, Riff-Raff and Magenta stage a coup d'etat, overthrowing Frank's "rule." Riff kills Columbia, Rocky, and Frank with an "anti-matter laser" and then tells Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott to leave before the house is beamed back to Transylvania. In real life, says Dr. Scott, Riff burst in on Frank's orgy waving a .45 and shooting wildly. Frank and his unnamed "creation" were able to escape with only minor injuries. Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott also managed to escape by crawling on their hands and knees toward the door. When they exited the house, there was no sign of Frank or the "creation." (I have managed to track Frank down in the ensuing years, but more about THAT later.) As Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott looked on in horror, Frank's mansion burned to the ground -- with Riff-Raff and Magenta still in it. To this day, Dr. Scott says he doesn't know whether Frank, Riff, Magenta, and the Transylvanian delegates were really aliens or merely eccentrics with an odd sense of humor. He still doesn't know how to explain the "birth" of Frank's creation. His pet theory is that it was another elaborate hoax and that the so-called "creation" was merely Dr. Furter's male lover at the time. The bandages, the tank, and the various machines in the lab were merely props in Furter's wild "production."

____The follow-up film, "Shock Treatment" is even less accurate. It is VERY loosely based on events that occurred in Denton several years later. You may have heard about it on the news. In real life, Brad's long-lost twin brother, Farley Flavors (a billionaire tycoon in the fast food industry) moved to Denton in 1972 and puchased the Denton Episcopal Church (the site of Ralph and Betty's wedding). He razed the original church and used the land to build an all new one, which doubled as a multi-million-dollar TV studio. From that studio, Farley operated DTV -- a local religious cable channel. Though he had no formal religious training, Farley himself hosted a daily program called "Faith Factory," which soon became DTV's most popular series. By that time, Brad and Janet had been married for a number of years. Ralph and Betty were in the process of seperating. By 1974, the Flavors cult had a firm grip on Denton. Everyone who wasn't an employee of DTV was in the audience every day, hanging on Farley's every word. In March of that year, Flavors declared himself to be the new messiah. He encouraged his employees and audience members to sell all of their material goods and live with him at the DTV studios, where they would undergo combat training in preperation for a "world takeover." Fairly liquidated millions of dollars worth of assets and used the money to buy high-tech weaponry and ammunition for his new "army." Only a handful of Dentonians -- Brad, Janet, Betty, and myself -- were able to make it out of the DTV studios before federal agents stormed in and took over. Fortunately, no one was harmed, but everyone over the age of 18 was either arrested or institutionalized for life. Among those unfortunates were Ralph Hapschatt and Janet's parents, Harry and Emily Weiss. As of this writing, Farley is still behind bars.

____Richard O'Brien's "Shock Treatment" is a surprisingly ginger handling of these events. Richard O'Brien added many characters (Bert Schnick, Cosmo, Nation, Ansalong, Oscar Drill and the Bits) to flesh out the film -- and also to provide roles for many of the actors who appeared in "RHPS." Others were fictionalized versions of people who requested that their real names be withheld (Neely, Macy, Kirk, Irwin Lapsey, etc.) Surprisingly, O'Brien avoided the religion issue altogether. Instead, the "religion" of the film is mental health. The Dentonians do not form an army; they merely have themselves committed to a mental hospital at Farley's request. The ending of the film is ambiguous and not at all depressing, as the real-life events were. The actors portraying Brad, Janet, Betty, and myself dance merrily out of the studio singing an impossibly cheery tune, while the newly-incarcerated Dentonians pledge allegience to their beloved hometown. The narrator spouts some upbeat cliche about the sun never setting on those who ride into it, and the film ends on what O'Brien considers a "happy note." Having lived through the horrible events in real life, I was mortified by O'Brien's lighthearted treatment of the subject matter when I first viewed the film in 1981. Looking back on the film now, though, I realize that O''Brien merely saw humor in the subject whereas I saw only tragedy. And, as many have told me, the film does seem to improve after multiple viewings. As Woody Allen once said, "Comedy is tragedy plus time." I suppose he was right. I can now enjoy "Shock Treatment" the way Richard O'Brien intended -- as a pointed satire with some delightfully catchy compositions. It may not be accurate, but it gets its point across.

PART TWO: Where are they now?

____I am proud to say that I have managed to track down just about all of the survivors of the Denton Affair. As I said, Columbia never existed. Eddie was killed by Dr. Furter, just as the film said he was. Riff and Magenta apparently died in the fire. That leaves Brad, Janet, Dr. Scott, Frank, the "creation," and myself. We'll begin with Brad and Janet.

____Despite rumors to the contrary, BRAD MAJORS did not turn gay after his night with Frank. Instead, he remained a devout heterosexual and married JANET WEISS in 1970. They lived in Denton until March, 1974, when they barely escaped the DTV fiasco. Today, the still-married couple lives in Fresno, CA. Brad writes greeting cards. Janet is a homemaker. They have two sons: Tim (18) and Peter (13).

____As I said, DR. EVERETT SCOTT is the one who brought the Denton Affair to my attention in 1969. After the incident, he left his government job to go on the lecture circuit, speaking mainly to college students about his experiences. Sadly, he died in 1974, just one year before his story became a film, the legendary "RHPS." I'm sure he would've gotten a kick out of the movie and its cult following. Despite the way he was portrayed in the film, the good doctor was really a happy-go-lucky sort who had a real zest for life. One thing about "RHPS" would've irked him, though. In the film, Dr. Scott was not especially upset about his nephew's death. In real life, the death of Eddie (son of Everett's sister, Camilla) shattered Dr. Scott. After Camilla died, Eddie was the only blood relative Dr. Scott had. Scott once said to me, "Y'know, he may have been a lying, cheating, stealing thug, but he was family, and family is important."

____After his rapid departure from the mansion, FRANK hit the road with his male lover (the so-called "creation") and headed for California. Somewhere around Nevada, Frank and his lover parted company. No one has heard from the "creation" since. Frank, however, did make it to Los Angeles, where he supported himself as a street musician and male stripper. Eventually, he saved up enough money to put himself through medical school. He is now one of California's top gynecologists -- operating under the alias "Frank Enford." Somehow, he got ahold of my book, and we have been corresponding ever since. No, he does not wear women's clothing to the office. He still does so in the privacy of his own home.

____And me, the humble NARRATOR? Like I said, I have now retired. After the disastrous DTV incident, Betty and I married. That was back in 1975 -- the very year that "RHPS" was released. We now live in Fresno, just two doors down from the Majors family. I have taken up golf in my spare time. Betty is now one of the leading authors of post-feminist literature. Her latest book, "Who Loves You, Baby?" was published this spring.

Signing off,
Judge Oliver Wright (retired)

P.S. - I hear Richard O'Brien is planning a third film in the series. Rumor has it that this one would follow the further exploits of Riff-Raff and Magenta. If so, it would be a complete work of fiction on Richard's part. After all, the real-life Riff and Magenta have been dead for a quarter of a century. What WILL that pesky O'Brien think of next?

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