RON HAYDOCK: BEHIND THE MASK OF RAT PFINK.
by Danny Dodge
Ron Haydock was born (in Chicago on April 17, 1940) to be bad. The original rock ‘n’ roll renaissance man, Ron Haydock took a bit of about anything he could get his hands on. He had just about as many jobs as he did aliases, as if he were creating a division of his character to devote wholly to the endevour at hand.
It all started when he was 16. in 1956 he saw the film “The Girl Can’t Help It”(starring everyone’s favorite buxom beauty Jayne “Hubba-Hubba” Mansfield). He was mesmerized by the wild rock ‘n’ roll fury of such acts as Little Richard and Eddie Cochran but the man who stood above the rest, in his eyes, was Gene Vincent. He fell in love with the way out sound of rockabilly. In 1958 he formed his own band, The Boppers. after going through the usual motions, they were signed to Cha Cha Records in 1959. There the recorded a slew of 45s, the stand out being the Love-Potion-No. 9-gone-awry single by the name of “99 Chicks”. This single got the eyes on him that he desired and even landed him on the local music hour, Chicago Bandstand.
Ron Haydock and the Boppers single “99 Chicks” on Cha Cha Records.
After the small success of 99 Chicks entered one ear of America and began to exit out the other, Haydock decided it was time to fly the coup. He packed his bags and shipped out west to sunny California in 1960. There he decided to explore another interest of his: writing. He got himself a job writing a column entitled “Graveyard Examiner" in the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman publication Famous Monsters of Filmland. The column featured the business at hand of the magazine’s fan club, The Monster Club.
After a year at Famous Monsters, Ron Haydock jumped on board with another monster publication entitled Fantastic Monsters of the Films. This magazine was similar to Famous Monsters of Filmland, but geared towards a more mature audience of readers who may have felt alienated by the more juvenile-oriented columns and contests. The magazine only released 7 issues. They were slated to release an 8th issue until tragedy struck. The 8th issue was at the printers when a mysterious fire suddenly broke out ruining, not only the magazine, but many of publishers Paul Blaisdell and Bob Burns' film stills, lobby cards, and other valuable artifacts of horror film history. The fire proved to be such a financial loss that it closed their doors forever.
After the disaster, Haydock moved on. He published a few adult paperbacks under the name Don Sheppard. Some of these included (now, cult collector items) “The Flesh Peddlers" and "Scarlet Virgin”. Around this time, Ron crossed paths with the great no-budget director Ray Dennis Steckler. Steckler had previously directed such classics as Wild Guitar (featuring the unforgettable Arch Hall, Jr.) and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. The two struck up a friendship and Haydock was cast as a state trooper in The Thrill Killers. This did not only mark his big-screen debut, but also marked another name change. Ron Haydock assumed the alias Lonnie Lord. The movie was, more or less, a success and Steckler and Haydock became close friends. Steckler described them as “partners in crime”.
When it was time for Ray Dennis Steckler to make another picture, he had Lonnie Lord….erm, I mean Vin Saxon (name change #3) in mind. Steckler cast him in the lead role in, quite possibly one of the greatest films of all time, Rat Pfink A Boo Boo (originally titled Rat Pfink and Boo Boo, however when Steckler sent off for the opening credit animation to be done, the animator mistakenly left out the ‘nd’. When Steckler received the finished product, he didn’t have another $30 to fix it, so there it stayed: Rat Pfink A Boo Boo). In it, Ron played singing idol Lonnie Lord (yes, his former alias. confused yet?) by day and superhero Rat Pfink by night! In the film you see Haydock perform some of his now better known songs like ” You Is a Rat Fink”, “Runnin’ Wild”, “I Stand Alone”, and “Go-Go Party”.
Clip of Ron Haydock performing “You Are a Rat Pfink” in Rat Pfink A Boo Boo.
After the filming of Rat Pfink A Boo Boo and another goofy romp with Steckler entitled “The Lemon Grove Kids" (aka The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters), it was back to peddling smut. Holding onto the name Vin Saxon, he released another batch of profligate paperbacks with such sin-tastic titles as “Sex-a-Reenos”, “Erotic Executives”, “Perverted Lust”, “Pagan Lesbians”, and (my personal favorite) “Ape Rape" along with a few more. Around this time in 1966, Haydock fell into a deep depression. The porn novels were hardly paying the bills so, in 1967, he decided to return to Chicago. When in Chicago, he used his down time to record almost a dozen acoustic demos. He took work researching a book entitled "The Great Radio Heroes" for his friend, author Jim Harmon. He also wrote a couple stories for the popular horror comic Creepy Magazine and scripted the back of the “Land of the Giants" trading cards.
left to right: Bob Burns (film editor, publisher of Fantastic Monsters), Jim Harmon (author), and Ron Haydock.
When 1971 rolled around, it was back to California to co-write and star in Ray Dennis Steckler’s 11th film, “Blood Shack”. After the film wrapped, Ron decided to stay in California. In 1974, he got the job of associate editor and key contributing writer for the monster magazine Monsters of the Movies. It was a choice set up for him but the magazine only lasted a few issues before running out of gas. After that, he hopped from one editing spot to another, none of which held much interest for him. With the weight of his misfortune weighing on his mind, Haydock suffered a mental breakdown in 1977. On August 13th, as he was hitch hiking back to his home from Ray Dennis Steckler’s house in Las Vegas, he was struck and killed by an 18-wheeler on an exit ramp on Route 66. He was 37 years old. He would later be buried on the day Elvis died, just don’t ask me what name they put on the grave.
Gone but certainly not forgotten, today you can find all of his recordings put out by everyone’s favorite record label, Norton Records and his films efforts with Ray Dennis Steckler can all be found on DVD. You can also find many of the writings he’s contributed to various monster magazines and horror comics in many collections. His risque releases of skin books have also made another name for himself amongst collectors in the field of vintage paperbacks. Roy Haydock is, to this day, remembered as a jack of all trades.
“I’m out for kicks in life, doing whatever I want whenever I want, on the move like there’s no tomorrow, I’m living like there’s only today. Yeah, that was the right word for what I wanted out of life — kicks. And I never had to look very far or very hard to find them. Somehow, they always managed to find me." -Ron Haydock