Wrapping Roy: A Fresh Take On Fan Fiction That Stays Fresher Longer
Who said you can’t learn anything by watching TV?
Last night, I was randomly flipping around the cableverse when I stumbled upon a rather freewheeling discussion between Scottish TV host Craig Ferguson and the Welsh actor Michael Sheen, whom you might know from his portrayals of David Frost, in Frost/Nixon, Aro in the Twilight films, “Wesley Snipes” on 30 Rock and his serial appearances as Peter Morgan’s “go to” guy to play British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in The Queen and the UK TV film The Deal.
As the conversation turned, Sheen mentioned that he’d seen this website where people discuss their obsession with the notion of “wrapping up Roy Orbison in cling film.” When Ferguson laughed, Sheen insisted he hadn’t made it up, and I leapt to my MacBook Pro. It was true, and the fetish/phenomena had been around for years but somehow had eluded my notice. A brief Google search turned up several of these sites that largely feature Fan Fiction wherein the central issue is the wrapping of said dead Wilbury in something of a Saran wrap nature. You can’t make this stuff up, but a lot of Roy fans do.
One of the more prominent is aptly named Stories About Roy Orbison Wrapped In Cling-Film’s Journal.
The originator, and undisputed King of Roy In Cling Film Lit, however, appears to be a German man named Ulrich Haarburste, whose original stories spawned what can only be called a “revolution.” Here is the intro Haarburste’s very first Roy story:
“It always starts the same way. I am in the garden airing my terrapin Jetta when he walks past my gate, that mysterious man in black.’Hello Roy,’ I say. ‘What are you doing in Dusseldorf?’
”Attending to certain matters,’ he replies
‘Ah,’ I say.
He apprises Jetta’s lines with a keen eye. ‘That is a well-groomed terrapin,’ he says.
‘Her name is Jetta.’ I say. ‘Perhaps you would like to come inside?’
‘Very well.’ He says.
Roy Orbison walks inside my house and sits down on my couch. We talk urbanely of various issues of the day. Presently I say, ‘Perhaps you would like to see my cling-film?’
‘By all means.’ I cannot see his eyes through his trademark dark glasses and I have no idea if he is merely being polite or if he genuinely has an interest in cling-film.
I bring it from the kitchen, all the rolls of it. ‘I have a surprising amount of clingfilm,’ I say with a nervous laugh. Roy merely nods.
‘I estimate I must have nearly a kilometre in the kitchen alone.’
‘As much as that?’ He says in surprise. ‘So.’
‘Mind you, people do not realize how much is on each roll. I bet that with a single roll alone I could wrap you up entirely.’
Roy Orbison sits impassively like a monochrome Buddha. My palms are sweaty.
Haarburste’s stories have inspired an animated short film:
And click here for some Roy In Cling Film Haikus
and more than one tribute song:
Piss And Vinegar’s “Wrapping Up Roy” on Myspace.
Logically, having written several short Roy/Clingfilm stories, all available here on a site curated by Michael Kelly, Haarburste has published a crime thriller novel called, wait for it, Ulrich Haarburste’s Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm
On the book’s website, you’ll find some high praise for Haarburste’s work:
“Consistently innovative, surprising, and very, very funny… the most enjoyable experimental novel I’ve read in years.”
The Review of Contemporary Fiction
“The greatest novel of the 21st Century (so far)… Not since Tristram Shandy has an author so skillfully – and amusingly – maintained such a shaggy-dog premise…. this brilliant work of real genius”
Bronwyn Carlton, WFMU
There are also tons of fan generated stories, such as The Flat Tire, sent in by a user named “Classical Slut,” is set in Albany, New York, during a torrential downpour. CS and her trusty pet chinchilla, Passat, are driving in a van when they get a flat on the road to the nearby Greene County Fair. Just then, a pair of headlights approaches and a car stops short of killing them. The driver, to Ms. Slut’s suprise, is none other than “the Big O” himself:
“You need help?” a deep male voice asked. What a shock and surprise! It was Roy Orbison, the legendary rock and roller. Despite the appallingly wet weather, he was still looking sharp with his trademark sunglasses and a black jacket. I felt myself blush hard and made eye contact with the ground. The sound of rain on our umbrellas was like some kind of industrial drum loop, grey and relentlessly pounding.”
Although she seems reticent to ask the great man for help, she realizes she is in need. Luckily, Roy don’t seem to mind.
“That won’t be a problem,” said Roy soothingly. “I have everything you need in my van here. I’ve got three spare tires and all the tools to fix flat tires. I’m just driving around the country aimlessly, so I have nowhere to be.”
Just as Roy starts to help her, though, the rain starts beating down on his leathers…luckily she has a great idea!
“I have a few rolls of clingfilm in my car. If you want, I can wrap you in clingfilm so that you stay dry in the rain.”
Roy looked unprepared for this unorthodox solution to heavy rain for a second, but his expression changed after only a second’s time. “Sure, that actually sounds like a good idea!”
“Just wait in your van then, and I will bring the clingfilm to you.”
Most of the stories follow that format, helping Roy with the cling film as opposed to hurting him (I mean, hey, these guys aren’t sickos or anything!) and I noticed that at least one other employed the name of a Volkswagen brand as a name for a pet, as in Roy Saves The Day, A Day At The Beach, by “Mootmitt.”
But after a big wave snaps her only surfboard in two, she’s in trouble. Luckily, Roy Orbison appears at the water’s edge…
Sadly, I informed Roy that this was the only board I possessed.
“Shame about that said Roy, damned shame. Wish there was something I could do to help you.”
I looked him up and down, “maybe there is” I said. “Can you come back with me to my car. I have an idea”.
We arrived back at my car and I opened the boot. Inside were hundreds of rolls of cling film. Its transparent softness glistened in the midday sun. “If you allow me to wrap you in cling film then maybe I can ride you to victory “I said.
Roy stood motionless for a few moments and then replied, “OK .”
As I rode Roy through the icy coldness of the wave I could hear thunderous cheering and clapping from the beach. A huge crowd had gathered to watch me ride the perfect wave on Roy.”
There’s also this funny moment, later in the story.
“Look, is that person riding Roy Orbison? ” I heard from the crowd. “Yes I think it is” came a reply.
As it turned out I won the contest and was presented with a huge trophy. As I delivered my speech I turned to thank Roy for coming to my rescue. But he was no where to be seen. He had hoped away while I had been caught up in the excitement of the moment.
I felt sad and alone. Only Jetta was with me to share my moment.”
There are plenty more where that came from, and perhaps you are writing one at this minute.
For now, however, that’s a wrap for today. But as this cult stretches around the globe, so to speak, I only hope it stays fresh for Ulrich and his acolytes… we leave you with one of them via the everpresent YouTubes.