Rocky Horror Picture Show is the epitome of zeitgeist and cult classic. The definition of lightning in a bottle. While still popular, it’s following is dying. I feel like I’m one of the few of my generation who’s even heard of it, let alone the amazing audience partici-(say it)-pation shows. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to one. Every year I search in vain for a show around Halloween. Sadly, unless I want to make it an epic odyssey, I’m out of luck.
What is Rocky Horror Picture Show? First, it’s not a horror movie. While it does have Halloween themes, there’s nothing scary about it. Unless you considering cross-dressing scary. Then this is downright horrifying. The movie is a musical about a couple (Brad and Janet) whose car breaks down at night. They find their way to Dr. Frank N. Furter’s residence, where there’s a party underway. He unveils to the crowd his latest creation, a man named Rocky (with blond hair and a tan). I don’t want to spoil anything because it’s very much an experience. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before though.
There’s more to the movie than just the film. Originally released in 1975, it bombed in theaters. It was re-released as a midnight show on Saturday nights. People began to come dressed as various characters (Brad, Janet, Columbia, Riff-Raff, Magenta, Dr. Furter, Rocky). From there it grew into a complete show. While it’s fun if you come dressed, it’s not required. What is though is singing, and dancing, and throwing things. First are the props. You can bring your own but most times they have little grab bags to hand out. Rice is thrown during the opening wedding scene. Newspapers are held overhead mimicking the characters in the rain (there was at one time water pistols used too, but that caused too much damage to the theaters). Pieces of toast are thrown during the toast at dinner. The list goes on.
Beyond the props and the obvious singing/dancing, there’s the call and return. As the characters speak lines, there’s an entire dialogue the audience can initiate between the pauses. The most common one is every time you hear “Brad Majors,” yell out “Asshole. There was an obvious veteran of Rocky Horror in the show I attended. He didn’t stop talking the entire movie. I have no idea how long it too him to learn all of it, or across how many shows. My biggest recommendation (aside from already seeing the movie) is to know how to do “The Time Warp” before going. It’s the whitest dance ever, the lyrics are directions.
While there were midnight shows in many areas for decades, they’ve all but died. I know a few spots in California and New York still do them though. Typically you’ll see more shows on or around Halloween, probably the Saturday night before. If you at worst tolerated the movie I highly suggest attending a show if the opportunity arises. Aside from the experience becoming incredibly rare, it’s too much fun to miss.
Have you gone to a live show? Suggestions for finding one? Comment below!
Deployed in the Pacific on Halloween. Still did the time warp.