Funtime Is Over

It's the end of the road for AstroWorld

Troy Schulze, currently the associate artistic director of Houston's avant-garde Infernal Bridegroom Productions, worked in the park as a high school student in the late '80s.

"I had to wear those little red shorts with the red shirt with the little rainbows on the sleeve," he says, unable to repress the memory.

He worked for a time at the diving show, which featured buff, hotshot divers from Florida. "In between shows I used to catch them scoping out who they were going to invite back into their little shack," he says.

Schulze also patrolled the Horizon Show, a theater where patrons lay on their backs and watched IMAX-type films projected on the ceiling.

"They'd give me a flashlight, and my job was to walk around and make sure that no one was basically having sex during the show," he says. "Sometimes I'd flash it over and I'd catch some girl going down on some guy. [My bosses] would tell me that I was supposed to stop them and let them know that this is a family park and that we don't tolerate that kind of behavior. But most of the time I just sort of let them go for a little while before I went over."

And countless young men no doubt thank you deeply, sir. The young ladies, maybe not so much.

4. Rock On (or Not)

Marty Racine spent far too many summer nights reviewing concerts at AstroWorld's Southern Star Amphitheater for the Houston Chronicle. Now editor of the Ruidoso (N.M.) News, he remembers those trying times, where the stage seemed to be directly beneath a screaming roller coaster:

"Southern Star was a theme park with a live soundtrack.

"It hadn't been touted that way. It opened as a serious venue for the nationally burgeoning 'shed circuit,' a sum- sum- summertime outdoor alternative for arena acts that could be downsized into a theater setting. A joint venture with Pace Concerts, it actually was ahead of its time -- sufficing until the Woodlands Pavilion got it right.

"The acts tended to be either pan-fried pop or long-toothed veterans. The environment proved more conducive to the former.

"Grizzlies such as Joe Jackson, Steve Winwood, the Dead and Jackson Browne had a tough time coming across. One hardly sympathized; these guys were courting younger demos as a career extender and knew the score. Of a capacity of 20,000, Joe Jackson's July 8, 1986 show sold 600 advance tickets.

"What crowd did show up chanted 'Joe! Joe!' at some points, to no good effect. 'I see you're more entertained by your own performance than ours,' Jackson sneered.

"The pop acts supplied absolutely the worst concerts this critic had ever witnessed -- so bad they were hilarious. Deee-lite. Wham! Mister Mister.

"The worst of the worst were the Nelsons -- Matthew and Gunnar, twin sons of the late, great Rick Nelson: navel-length locks, videogenic cheekbones, showbiz bloodlines. 'Musically…well, let's just say that Nelson's songs are quite possibly the worst rock songs I have ever heard,' I wrote of their Aug. 19, 1991 performance.

"But wait, here's Deee-Lite: 'Saturday at Southern Star Amphitheater was the worst pop-music performance I can recall' was the summary of their May 6, 1991 appearance.

"Southern Star. You gotta love it. Now that it's gone."

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