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I was Rocky Horror­-fied, and lived to tell about it

Published: September 4, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.


While standing in line among the slew of fanboys, drama geeks and cross-dressers at the Chelsea Clearview Cinema in New York this past summer, I found myself asking, “What do all of these people have in common?” and moreover, “What the hell am I doing here?”

Only one occasion attracts a congregation of weirdness as awesome as this one, and it has been doing so for some thirty-odd years since its creation. It has spawned nothing short of a cult following, with loads of scantily clad, ambiguously gendered individuals shouting profanities at theaters worldwide.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a landmark in American entertainment. It was released at a time when sex and sexuality defied traditional social taboos through the use of protest, journalism, and in this case, sci-fi horror musical-comedy spoofing (an unconventional medium back then). So understandably enough this picture show is not for the faint of heart. In layman’s terms, if you are prudish or (gasp!) homophobic (something nearly implausible to me, given the open-minded nature of most of my peers), this funfest is not for you. But if you are like the thousands of enthusiasts who appreciate a choice spectacle of burlesque entertainment, I highly recommend you smear on some vaudeville-red lipstick and fishnet stockings and go buy yourself a ticket to the nearest RHPS midnight showing (though not necessarily in that order).

According to the “official” fan website, “Rocky Horror” is “the first and only true audience participation movie.” In order to understand what is meant by “audience participation,” you really have to see it properly in action; that is, in a theater, preferably on a Friday or Saturday night, surrounded by dozens of die-hard “Rocky” fans that know the script cold and interject the dialogue with inappropriate (and might I add, hilarious) commentary. An insider’s tip: be prepared for low-flying movie props.

The movie itself was glorious, in all my biased notion of the word. Such distastefulness, such flat-out farce, plus all the raunchy humor I could ask for, and all for nine bucks? I was sold after the first 10 minutes. Tim Curry was a gem and he pulled off fishnet stockings better than any teenage girl I know. If you are new to the world of “Rocky” as I was, watch it first at home and get a general sense of the storyline so you can go to the theater and join in on the fun without too much confusion. (Actually I saw it for the first time in theaters, so with all that ruckus I really had no grasp of any plot whatsoever, but I still had a helluva time).

In a nutshell, a squeaky-clean young couple (played by Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) get lost and end up at the creepy mansion of Dr. Frankenfurter (Tim Curry), a sex-crazed mad scientist/transvestite from “Transsexual, Transylvania.” He creates the perfect specimen of a man (Rocky, played by Peter Hinewood), that somehow gets tangled up in a crazy love triangle between them all. Jealousy erupts and chaos and hilarity ensue, with lots of innuendo, little discrection, and some catchy music thrown into the mix.

I don’t know how it goes at other theaters, but at the Clearview Cinema I went to, virgins got an especial treatment. “Rocky” virgins, that is, anyone who had been deprived the opportunity to see RHPS in its full glory on the big screen. (I won’t give away exactly why this was a momentous occasion, but let’s just say I lost my RHPS virginity this past summer and my friends will be laughing at the footage for quite some time).

Another great added touch was that our cinema used a live cast to perform simultaneously and lip-sync the lines as the film reeled on in the background. (If you’re reading this, kudos to the chick that played Dr. Frankenfurter—you made an excellent Tim Curry!)

In short, “Rocky” aims to please, so in the spirit of Dr. Frankenfurter, “give yourself over to absolute pleasure” and see it today!