Anyone could be hard pressed to imagine how a black leather-clad punk rocker with a mohawk fashioned from Troll dolls and a dyed blue goatee grew up in the corn-surrounded town of New Holland—home of farm machinery, chicken processing, and auto dealerships—unless you could fully understand the angst created by living out your teenage years in the confines of said small town. For Ray Zor (pronounced razor), something had to give. He transformed.
Flashback to the year 1982. A friend told Ray Zor—then going only as Ray—about an upcoming concert in New York. The Clash was opening for The Who at Shea Stadium. He went. The concert went down in the annals of rock history, the recordings were hotly bootlegged and eventually released as an album in 2008.
“I was more than hooked. I already knew The Clash, but seeing them live just pulled me in. There’s something about live music,” says Ray Zor. “I started to get into The Cure and early U2.”
His father died later the same year and Ray Zor had a hard time dealing with the loss of the family identity.
“It changed me for a time,” he says, and music helped pull him out of a place of sorrow. But the Ray Zor I see now, in full punk regalia at the Marion Court Room started in 1999 with the purchase of his leather jacket from Zap & Co. Every pin and patch on the jacket represents a band he’s seen in concert.
“Except for the Sex Pistols,” adds Ray Zor. “I’ve seen the Ramones twice. But, it’s not all about the big-name rock bands. I was inspired by bands that were underground.”
Underneath the makeup and the patches there is Ray. He could be your next-door neighbor whose first job was a paperboy. He loves hiking, photography, and collecting baseball cards. He’s shy.
“I’ve been picked on. I’ve heard all kinds of stuff behind my back,” says Ray Zor, who takes it all to heart. He’s been threatened, challenged to fights, but he ignores it all. “I’m not hiding anything, obviously, but too many people are quick to judge.”
And he can understand why. He’s not the type of guy to wear a gregarious smile. His outfit is a bit intimidating. But, Ray cares. He hosted a benefit for a child in Arizona who was getting treatment at CHoP. He donated his birthday to Make-A-Wish Foundation and raised $4,600 for a child to go to Disneyland.
“I’ve been knocked down and I do have a lot of pride. People say, ‘Hey, you just want attention.’ When I first started doing this I didn’t even think about that; I just wanted to have fun … and I’m not going to quit,” says Ray Zor. “There might be some kids out there struggling with trying to find their identity. Or, they might like something and they’re getting bashed about it. What I would tell them is: do what you want to do. Hopefully your friends are going to embrace you for what you are doing. But, don’t give it up. Stick with what you like.”
There’s a bit of mythology surrounding Ray Zor and the man behind the mascara and mohawk.
“I’ve heard I am a probation officer. I’ve heard I am a lawyer. I’ve heard I’m a bank manager. I don’t know where all these stories have come from,” says Ray Zor, whose worst job was working in that New Holland chicken processing facility. “That’s the only job I ever hated.”
The truth is he’s had a number of jobs in his lifetime, from retail and factory worker to quality control inspector. Over the years—he’s still rockin’ out at age 56—Ray Zor has become synonymous with the region’s live music scene. He’s lost track of all the mohawk he’s had: real hair, Troll dolls, Statue of Liberties, glow sticks. He was a regular at The Metron in Harrisburg. He co-hosts Sanctuary, an ’80s New Wave and ’90s Alternative dance night at The Village. He can be spotted often at Shadowland, the dark alternative dance events at The Village.
“It’s just fun, that’s all it is,” says Ray Zor.
Respect the fun. Respect the person.