Montreal's famed Rocky Horror Picture Show Ball cancelled after cast members allege exploitation

It’s a staple of Montreal’s Halloween celebrations, but this year, the city’s beloved Rocky Horror Picture Show Ball is cancelled. The show won’t go on, over what’s being described as the exploitation of “the free labour of LGBTQ2S+ folks.”


33 · 5 months ago · Reddit

I'm surprised by the hostility here, it IS shocking that a communal performance – requiring dozens if not hundreds of hours of study and practice – is hiding shocking profit being withheld by the owner/​producer.

I've been to this event a few times over the years, and true to Rocky Horror history, the vibe has been very DIY, participatory, and grassroots. Obviously there's real work that goes into producing such a popular event, including rents paid for the venue and security. Butt let's be real, the tickets aren't free and the volume sold would be a huge boon given the demand for the event.

It would be a generally acceptable outcome if there was a mix of people offering their experience/​skills for free as well as those accepting something along minimum wage standards, because it's generally accepted that it is a huge passion project for the queer community. (For example, a sound technician given a few hundred dollars compensation for equipment and setup time, while some performers or MCs may be content with exposure value, idk).

This is why it's controversial – not that there was ANY profit, just that the extent of profit garnered was not explicitly disclosed or its distribution shared among the massive crew of people and departments involved. I'll bet if the entire production didn't end up making back the entirety of expenses, the majority of contributors would be okay with funneling the funds towards those who needed it most, while the rest remained volunteers.

The fact that ONE DUDE profited? Massively suspicious.

A large part of Rocky Horror is the communal support (including tips/​donations) because it is understood to be a relatively ACCESSIBLE experience financially, socially, and identity-wise.

It's a shared love of a movie and a movement.

As a queer Montrealer myself, I'm no stranger to the shitty practices of nonprofits or awareness campaigns that end up being entirely self-serving. oftentimes it's queer individuals who steal from the collab, there's shitty people in every identity group.

In my experience, it's best for unpaid contributors and collaborators to speak out about hidden profits as soon as they're aware because to the queer community, we have such passion for providing entertainment and visibility to our community that we are more willing to provide time and energy and thus are more susceptible to capitalist greed projects.

I'm so so sad that this has caused the event to be cancelled. But I understand the frustration

21 · 5 months ago · Reddit

These people seem to have a very loose definition of “exploitation”.

They were all very happy to volunteer but when they learn one guy makes a little bit a money (which was probably pretty obvious as they actually sell tickets) they get all upset and cry wolf.

15 · 5 months ago · Reddit

So he was "exploiting" the LGBT community because he was making money from the event? How much is a construction worker paid? How much do the performers, most of which who aren't professional, think they're worth? Also, why are "volunteers" asking to be paid?

Spurrell makes a living organizing such movie events. It's his livelihood. He's the head of the CineClub Society which projects classics on the big screen. If he didn't make money from these projects, they simply wouldn't exist.

Good job getting that unique event cancelled. Now there's one less LGBT event this year in Montreal.