An Interview with RKO Army Member Zephyr Goza

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When Zephyr Goza walks into a room, everyone kind of stops. It could be because of his dashing good looks and charming personality, or that he’s wearing a corset and fishnets and singing along to the iconic “Sweet Transvestite” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. No matter which it is, you’re in for an amazing conversation. I sat down with Zephyr to talk Rocky Horror, his time in a shadow cast, and what it means to be the poster boy for the upcoming RKO Con (see motifri.com/rko2019 for more information).

Caitlin Howle: How did you first discover the movie version of Rocky Horror?

Zephyr Goza: I was fresh out of the house at 18, and my significant other at the time had just been introduced to it via some friends she worked with. After attending my first film screening in East Bridgewater, I decided immediately this was something I wanted to be part of; 10 years later, here I am!

CH: What does being a part of Rocky Horror mean? I’ve seen you perform, but tell everyone who might not know: What is a shadow cast?

ZG: Simply put, a shadow cast is a group of performers that acts out a movie on stage, as the film is playing behind them. This art form evolved in very organically in the ’70s with Rocky Horror Picture Show. People would attend late-night screenings shouting out lines or dressing up as characters, and before long folks would get up in their costumes and act our some of the scenes. Shadow casts not only do Rocky Horror, complete with accurate props, costumes and lighting cues,  but other cult hits such as Repo! the Genetic Opera or Rocky‘s sequel, Shock Treatment.

CH: Tell me more about the RKO Army, the shadow cast you belong to.

ZG: The RKO Army started as a Rocky Horror cast, but now it’s so much more than that! We do Repo! The Genetic Opera, Shock Treatment like I mentioned, but also, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a condensed “club show” version of Rocky Horror and more. Plus, this is the third time we’ve been responsible for throwing the annual national Rocky Horror convention. I wear a number of hats; mostly they’re onstage hats, but I also occasionally do lights or host the show, as well as run the email list, run an event for con, direct a pre-show, that type of thing.

CH: What roles do you play in the shadow cast? Who is your favorite?

ZG: Primarily Frank N’ Furter (I actually have all his tattoos in real life), sometimes a Transylvanian, and more recently, I’ve started playing Brad. I also recently played Rocky with Out Loud Theater in the stage play, which was a delightful challenge!

CH: I saw that production and loved it. I’m curious, what has been your biggest achievement as a shadow cast member?

ZG: It might have to be some of the work we created for the 2016 con; we made a promo video that involved a giant Frank-N-Furter trashing Providence Godzilla-style, and it was set to Andrew WK’s “Party Hard.” Andrew actually saw the video, and retweeted it to his followers!

I also think getting to perform in front of Barry Bostwick and Patricia Quinn (the original Brad and Magenta) is a huge highlight of my Rocky career. They stayed for the whole show, and they were delightful – Barry even came up and asked if I’d played Frank in the stage show, and insisted that I audition for it sometime. There’s a photo somewhere of me sitting on Pat Quinn’s lap. It’s such a surreal thing: she’s this icon who was part of the original film in the middle of this new generation of young people who are carrying it forward, and she’s just loving every minute of it. They were yelling callbacks, Barry was calling himself an asshole, Pat got up onstage behind our Magenta at one point. They’re both incredible people.

CH: It sounds like Rocky Horror has changed you for the better.

ZG: I literally wouldn’t be who I am without Rocky Horror. Being a part of Rocky didn’t just change me, it shaped me — it’s introduced me to types of people that I didn’t know existed, and created these huge opportunities that I get to be a part of.

CH: And last, but not least, there’s a pretty great photo of you being used to promote RKO Con 2019. What’s it like to be the “poster boy”?

ZG: Flattering, and a little surreal — people keep sending me pictures like, “Hey, you’re in my news feed!”

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