‘Rocky Horror’ icon dies at 71: Sal Piro was an RPG superfan

Sal Piro, a paying ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ superfan and subject of an upcoming biopic, has died. He was 71 years old.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, which Piro founded in 1977, announced his death in a tweet on Sunday. They did not give a cause.

“With deep sadness, we bring the news that Sal Piro, founder and longtime president of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, has passed away,” the club said. statement read. “Sal has been the de facto face of the Rocky Horror fandom for decades. He will be greatly missed.”

Piro served as club president until his death. As the first fan of the 1975 film, Piro joined many other young fans in shouting amusing comments during the film’s midnight screenings in New York, which became a regular event at the old Waverly Theater – now the IFC Center – in Greenwich Village.

He helped develop a floor show for audience members to play the cult classic under the big screen.

“We all lived on Friday and Saturday nights,” Piro wrote in his 1990 memoir, “Creatures of the Night.”

Fan club president Sal Piro, producer Lou Adler, actor Tim Curry and LA City Councilman Paul Koretz pose with some of the cast for the film’s 40th anniversary.
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“We met at 8 p.m. to make sure we would be in the front row and thus get our regular seats. The atmosphere outside the theater was as electric as inside. We sang songs, we warped the weather (once we stopped traffic on Sixth Avenue while we were dancing), we exchanged questions… We all shared this devotion to the film as we gathered outside eagerly awaiting midnight,” he continued.

Piro added in his memoir that he and his friend, music director Marc Shaiman, would sit next to each other the next 75 times Piro went to see the film, contributing “improvised lines that became a part of the whole spectacular “happening”.

Shaiman, who became the musical composer for “Hairspray,” remembered Piro in a lengthy tribute on Instagram.


Tim Curry (center), Nell Campbell (right, gold top hat), Patricia Quinn (maid's uniform), Richard O'Brien (bald, second from right), in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in 1975.
Tim Curry (center), Nell Campbell (right, gold top hat), Patricia Quinn (maid’s uniform) and Richard O’Brien (bald, second from right) appear in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show ” in 1975.
©20thCentPKB/courtesy Everett C

“We didn’t know what we were giving birth to, we were just having a good time and being creative in the most liberating way,” he wrote. “Writing the perfect lines to go between dialogue in the movie, creating props, just having fun, it was a total blast.

“Over the next year I went to about 70 screenings of the film, but for Sal it ended up being his life’s work and passion. He became president of the fan club and spent the 40 years following to be the Rocky Horror guru for millions of fans,” Shaiman added.

In 1981, Piro had a small role in the “Rocky Horror” sequel “Shock Treatment”. He also played himself in a 1980 episode of the television series “Fame”.


Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.
©20thCentPKB/courtesy Everett C

Screenwriter Mark Loughlin is currently in the early stages of turning Piro’s memoir into a film.

It is set to take place around 1976 and follows Piro and his friend, Dori Hartley, who was the first person to dress up as Frank N Furter.

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