Dan and I are home this weekend, mostly for his youngest sister’s wedding, but a good friend of mine, a member of the Gangsters, was also performing in a stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He’s playing Eddie/Dr. Scott, and last night was opening night; I couldn’t miss it.
If you’ve never seen RHPS, let me break it down for you: super boring and newly engaged couple Brad and Janet are on their way to visit an old professor when their car breaks down. In the middle of nowhere. In the rain. Cliche right? They then walk to a nearby castle to use the phone, where they meet some extremely strange characters, led by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a gay man in women’s clothing. Oh, he’s also a scientist, and he’s in the process of creating the perfect man. He invites Brad and Janet to his lab for the raising, nonsense ensues. There’s singing, dancing, sexual innuendo, and Tim Curry looking fierce in red lipstick and an endless wardrobe of corsets. The plot is totally unhinged and makes very little sense, but that’s part of the appeal. The whole movie feels a little bit like a fever dream.
This movie, and now the play, hold a special place in my heart. When I was in high school I had a lot of friends and did normal teenager things, but I never really felt like I fit in. I had some pretty strange interests that the people in my social groups didn’t get and definitely didn’t share. I also knew from a young age that I likely wasn’t completely straight while all of my friends were, and it was in a time when there wasn’t the kind of inclusion that there is now. Some of my friends thought I might not be straight, and they claimed to be scared to spend time with me. Not that I had ever tried to do anything inappropriate to them; they were just playing into the kind of prejudice that was normal at the time.
When I was a sophomore (I think) I was hanging out with some older kids on the regular, and they routinely went to see midnight showings of Rocky Horror. I had never seen it, and when I mentioned it to one of them she was horrified and decided I needed to tag along one weekend. Not to be hyperbolic, but the experience was life-changing. That night I was surrounded by “freaks” and “weirdos”, people who didn’t allow the expectations of other people or society to define them, who were unapologetically themselves, and I loved every single minute of it. Being an underage girl I was safe from the humiliation and disrobing that “virgins” are typically subjected to, but I actually wanted to be hazed. More than anything I wanted to be a part of this amazing community of people who knew the words to all of the songs and danced and threw things.
So I kept going. At the time my city had a weekly showing, every Saturday night at midnight, and it was typically the highlight of my week. I lied to my parents about where I was going (sorry mom) because I knew they wouldn’t want their 15-year-old daughter going to the opposite side of the city to hang out with a bunch of strangers and watch a raunchy movie. And to a lot of people, that’s all Rocky is; a play, a movie, something to be consumed and enjoyed for a couple of hours and then move on. To us, Rocky was a lifeline, the only place we could really be ourselves without fear of judgment, ridicule or worse.
Eventually, I joined the “cast”, the biggest weirdos in the entire place who dressed up as the characters and acted out the movie while it was on the screen. I’ve never heard of another movie where this is a thing, but I really love it. I started out playing a rando in the ensemble, basically only showing up for the Time Warp and Rocky unveiling, and eventually moved up to Columbia, and then Magenta. She was my favorite to play since she’s so creepy. I still know her parts in the songs, but most of her lines and her callouts have long since been replaced in my brain with more “useful” information about things like taxes and adulting.
The play was awesome and totally worth coming home for. I’d 100% go again. I didn’t take any photos because rules, but I’ll leave you with some of the promotional shots from the Blackfriar’s Facebook page.
Have you ever been to see Rocky? Or better yet, played any of the parts? If you’re a virgin, do you think you’d ever go?