Interview with Charles Rosenay
Meet Charles F. Rosenay, also known as “Cryptmaster Chucky” – a seasoned veteran in the world of Beatles fandom with over four decades of dedication to organizing Beatles conventions and festivals. Beyond that, he’s the mastermind behind Beatles Tours to Liverpool and the creator of the Beatles magazine Good Day Sunshine, which he passionately published for 25 years.
But Rosenay isn’t just about the Beatles; he’s also a notable figure in the horror genre with an annual Dracula Tour to Transylvania, courtesy of Rosenay, and the establishment of GHOSTours, offering week-long supernatural travel experiences. Rosenay is also the brains behind Connecticut’s largest indoor haunted attraction, “Fright Haven,” and a contributor to various horror films.
Intriguingly, his book, The Book of Top 10 Horror Lists, didn’t materialize out of thin air. It traces its origins back to an online newsletter called “National Horror Happenings.” When the pandemic disrupted his usual activities, Rosenay didn’t just sit idly. Instead, he compiled and edited The Book of Top 10 Beatles List, a compilation of 100 diverse and captivating lists featuring contributions from individuals closely tied to the Beatles.
Q: Where were you when you heard the Beatles for the first time?
Charles Rosenay: I was a young kid growing up in The Bronx, where I probably heard them on AM radio because my parents alway had music playing, but my first real memory was seeing them on the Ed Sullivan Show in our family living room. It was February 9, 1964. We watched Sullivan together for all the jugglers, acrobats, musical acts, comedians, but for me mostly the puppet mouse, Top Gigo. When The Beatles came on, nothing was ever the same – in a good way!
Q: I know this is an arbitrary question, but I have to ask. What’s your favorite Beatles album?
CR: That’s almost as hard as asking which song is my favorite, except there’s far less to choose from. I know most people will go for Pepper or Revolver or Abbey Road. And if you ask me next year it might be a different choice, but I’m currently loving the Help! album, and I plan on watching the film again soon.
Q: You’ve not only written the Book of Top 10 Beatles Lists, you also did the The Book of Top 10 Horror Lists. How did this project come about?
CR: The Book of Top 10 Horror Lists came first, and I’d been working on it for years without realizing there was a book in my future. Celebrities were giving me their top 10 horror lists for an online horror newsletter I was editing, and when Covid hit I remembered I had a batch of these lists in a database. I edited the ones
I had, added photos, and sought out some new ones. Voila—we had a book! 300 pages packed with not just lists, but reasons for the lists, great illustrations, factoids, and much more. The book was released to very favorable reviews, and was a big hit not just for monster mavens, but for readers who enjoyed celebrity and pop-culture books.
For years, people who knew me and my Beatles history asked why I hadn’t ever written a Beatles book, and my answer was very true – I felt everything was already written. After the success of the horror book, I realized that this wasn’t true. There was never a book before where celebrities submitted their top 10 lists with Beatles themes. Actors, musicians, athletes, authors, and other notables were quick to give me great lists.
I make it seem easy – it wasn’t. But it was worth the work! The upside for Beatles fans is that many of the chapters are by Beatle associates and relatives. So it works on all levels.
Q: What’s your top 10 horror films?
CR: My favorite horror film is The Exorcist. My first- ever monster movie was Bride of Frankenstein. My favorite horror comedy is Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. My favorite horror rock film is Phantom of the Paradise.
Q: When you were a kid, was that what you did? Made lists? I know a lot of people who did that and still do it?
CR: I was always making top 10 lists as a kid: my favorite films of that year, my favorite TV shows, my favorite songs of the year, etc. I did that for many years but lost the notebook it was in.
Q: Other than the Beatles, you’re a huge Monkees fan. Has there been any pushback from Beatles fans for having an interest in them?
CR: That’s an interesting question, because before The Monkees reunited in 1986 and before they became “popular” again, I was always questioned as to why I loved The Monkees so much. It seemed that it bothered some people that I loved The Monkees too (though, admittedly, not nearly as much as The Beatles). That bothered me—Monkee fans were able to admit they were Beatles fans, but people who adored The Beatles couldn’t enjoy and appreciate The Monkees as well?
I found myself not just defending the music of The Monkees, but also their personalities, their humor, and their influence. And weren’t those some of the same elements of why we enjoyed The Beatles so much?
Well, time has proven that The Monkees don’t need defending on any of those counts.
Q: How do you feel about the Rutles? The Eric Idle parody?
CR: Ouch! I LOVE THE RUTLES! Of every Beatles tribute or homage ever, it is by far the best. I was friends with Neil Innes and got to see him live many times, and he is sadly missed. I would’ve loved to have gotten a top 10 list from him for my book. It makes me wish I had thought of this book many years earlier.
Q: What would be your dream project as far as writing books?
CR: My dream would be to write a horror or suspense novel on the level of Stephen King, Dan Simmons, or Dean Koontz, but I don’t have a fraction of the talent or self-discipline. So I’m happy right now with my niche of authoring cool pop-culture collections, and I have a few more music ones in the works for future release.
Q: Who inspired you the most?
CR: No one single person, but four of them… that fab 4-headed monster which was made up of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Because of them I have been in the music field my entire life: as a professional live DJ/MC, as the producer of Beatles Festivals and Conventions since the ‘70s, as the host & organizer of the annual Beatles tours to Liverpool and London during “Beatleweek” known as the “Magical History Tours (www.LiverpoolTours.com, now in its 40th year), as the former publisher & editor of the beloved Beatles fanzine Good Day Sunshine, and now as the author of www.BookOfTop10BeatlesLists.com.
Q: I saw you were featured on a show featuring your Monkees collection. What other collectables do you have?
CR: First of all, I have to say that it was a real treat being able to be featured on the MeTV program “Collectors Call.” Although I was billed as an “expert,”
I don’t consider myself one. I know a lot about a lot of different genres, but there are so many friends and colleagues who are far more knowledgeable than I am. Fortunately, my personality comes through on camera, so I think I didn’t embarrass myself.
I don’t collect as much as I did at one time, but as you can guess I’ve collected Beatles, Monkees and horror stuff. I also collected pinball machines for a while, but they take up far too much space. I have down-sized most of my collections, as they didn’t interest my kids as much. They collect superhero Funko Pops! Now
I collect and treasure my memories, and the time I spend with my family. Nothing is more valuable.
Q: Has anyone ever approached you to have your own radio show?
CR: I have a very distinct voice but I don’t consider it a “radio voice” per se. What I lack in vocal tone I compensate with energy and personality. As such, I vastly prefer having a mic in my hand in front of a live crowd rather than sitting in a booth with a glass in front of me spinning tunes. I truly love the spontaneity and interaction of an audience. Having said that, after college radio many moons ago I didn’t think I would be part of a station again, until a fun opportunity presented itself a few years ago. I am currently one of the on-air announcers at an all-Monkees radio station, “MonkeeMania Radio” (which can be heard on www. Live365.com), and I’m having a blast hosting the weekend “Monkees Interview Show” with an incredible line-up of other DJs, who have become like a family.
Q: Would you have an interest in doing a podcast about your interests in collecting, or the Beatles or the Monkees?
CR: Perhaps, but I’m a guest on so many podcasts talking about The Beatles or The Monkees, or rock and roll for that matter, and also on so many podcasts talking about horror or the paranormal, that I think there’s enough of me on the airwaves.
Q: What other bands/performers are you fans of?
CR: I could go forever. Squeeze, The Turtles, Prince, The Ramones, The Four Seasons, Bruno Mars, The Raspberries, Hermans Hermits, Neon Trees, The Supremes, Elvis Costello, Badfinger, Culture Club, Billy Joel, Sly & The Family Stone, Green Day, Jay & The Americans, Crowded House, The Rutles! I was tempted to include Twisted Sister as a nod to this magazine’s name, but I’m mad at Dee Snider for not giving me a list in either my Horror or my Beatles book!
Q: You’ve done so much with your life. It was daunting to see how much you’ve achieved.
CR:Thank you so much. Lots more to come!