Rocky Horror Picture Show

This weekend I went to see Rocky Horror Picture Show done by a group of players who ran the movie and simultaneously acted out the movie as a live play.  Staging and production-wise, I'd say don't try this at home.  They were a cute bunch of kids in cute costumes and I think everyone had a pretty good time.  I felt very middle-aged throughout, especially considering that unlike me, most of the live cast and audience weren't yet born in 1975 when "Rocky Horror" first came out.

I was much too young for "Rocky Horror" when it debuted and not much interested in the counter-culture that embraced it as I came of age.  My previous attempts to watch it (once at a party, once at a theater and once at home on video) ended with dozing, falling asleep and general boredom.  It's not that I didn't get it.  It was that it was the cultural relic of a time that I didn't belong to and didn't idolize.  I understand the era it came from and had some passing familiarity with it, but it isn't my thing. As much as the young Rocky party goers wish otherwise, it's not really their thing either.

There's nothing particularly outrageous in 2008 about going out in public in a corset.  Hell, they make them as outerwear these days.  While there is still a lot of anti-gay sentiment, most people of my acquaintance today know exactly what a transsexual is.  And for those of us who watched friends die of AIDs, a free-for-all sexual lifestyle looks more idiotic than liberating.  The sexual revolution that spawned Dr. Frankenfurter is as antique today as a Victorian opium den.  However fun and salacious the young people doing this production found it, they're even less likely to actually understand Rocky than I am.  It was a profound realization in the middle of a very silly night.  Sadly, even with my previous mostly unconscious attendances of the past, I knew the cues for the stuff in the prop bags better than most of the avowed enthusiasts.

It took two days and a lot of scrubbing to get that "lip" stamp off my hand, too!

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3 thoughts on “Rocky Horror Picture Show

  1. Liked the post because it gave me pause to think, and recall fondly–I was fifteen when some friends and I walked two miles to the theater for a midnight showing of Rocky Horror. It was 1982, I had no idea what the show was about, only that it was a movie at midnight and was supposedly a lot of fun. It was, though we arrived without makeup, costumes, squirt guns, or toast. I could take or leave the idealized debauchery, and the counter-culture sex/gender-bending element non-plussed me even then (Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie came out that same year). I had a crush on Columbia, which was strange, because the girl who’d head-over-heeled me in real life had a definite Magenta vibe. But I digress: my pleasure from that night, and the dozen or so Rocky shows I’ve attended in the ensuring 30-some years, came from the joy of the crowd, not the dated ribaldry of the script. Scenes like Rocky Horror are ultimately reliant upon a group of (mostly) strangers mutually agreeing to indulge themselves in–not wildness, but the idea of wildness, and in this it occurs to me that Rocky Horror has more in common with a bunch of old folks doing the chicken dance at a polish wedding than it does with outmoded sexual exotica. After all, it’s just a jump to the left….

    • Greetings! Yes, I agree with your comparison to the Chicken Dance, and the idea of wildness. Movies in general are perhaps an exercise in temporary identity-swapping. With the Rocky Horror scene, that plays out in an interactive masquerade. Since this post, I’ve seen a local stage production of Rocky Horror and stumbled across a German version on YouTube that I like very much. The Germans were young, talented people doing some kind of Steampunk version that appeals to me because they chose to own the parts and envision their own version. In some ways, I think they missed the point. It’s a very cleaned up version, with a pretty rather than slatternly Magenta. But their Rocky is his own man, and not some kid pretending to be Tim Curry. Still, the singing is terrific and that German guy will forever remain my favorite Riff-Raff, no offense meant to the originals.

      The local stage production was more faithful to the original, and interesting in that they chose to enforce and control audience participation by planting a team in the audience every night to shout out pre-approved versions of the audience responses. Since their responses differed quite a lot both in timing and content from the more usual, it locked the actual audience out of the participation, making us spectators of faux spectators as well as watchers of the play. It seems that here in the Armpit, even the idea of wildness must be carefully harnessed. And yet I was one of a very few people who were not dressed up. The more I look at the Rocky scene, the less I understand it!

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