Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rocky Horror Picture Show

The first time I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show I was a mere adolescent girlie of 17. A small group of us went to nearby Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech. And it was Halloween night.

We had no idea what RHPS was, really. I had read about it in a music magazine and thought it might be fun, and we just lucked out that it happened to be Halloween. The theatre was full of college kids, and pretty much everyone except for us was dressed up.

Sitting in the crowded theatre was exciting, and seeing the shadow cast in their weird costumes setting up props and things in front of the screen seemed mysterious and intriguing. From the first few minutes of the big red lips filling the screen, I already loved it.
Michael Rennie was ill the day the Earth stood still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear
Claude Raines was the invisible man

The movie was immediately campy and ridiculous, and watching the shadow cast act things out, in costume, right below the screen was very cool. The audience all seemed to know the drill, throwing rice at the wedding and yelling at the narrator about his lack of neck.

The whole audience stood up to dance the Time Warp, so we did, too. Lucily it was not a complicated procedure, and there was even a handy onscreen diagram. Of course, just listening to the lyrics will give you a good idea of what to do.
It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
Put your hand on your hips

Then bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust

That really drives you insane
Let's do the Time Warp again!

But the most memorable moment for me was right after we sat down again, post-Time Warp. The party guests are lying strewn about on the floor, Brad and Janet are backing towards the door, and slowly an elevator is descending; all you can see are feet in silver sparkly high heels. STEP, STEP, STEP, the audience chanted in anticipation, keeping rhythm with the feet,building tension. Then the elevator door swings open, Janet faints, and the camera swings to Frankie. And the full force of my teenage hormones rushed over me in a wave of absolutely unprecedented lust.

Here's the deal. I have always had kind of a "thing" (you know, a THING) for guys with British accents. Who doesn't, right? And, okay, also for guys in makeup. Okay, maybe that is a bit more unusual, but there it is. (And it may partially explain my crush at the time on Adam and the Ants.) And, just for the sake of full disclosure, I do also think it's hot when guys (gay or straight) are a bit femmy.

So when I see Frankie (Tim Curry) in the elevator, a hot guy wearing makeup, lingerie, and speaking with a British accent... OH MY GOD.

Since it was only my very first time at RHPS, I had no idea how lucky I was that there were not one, but TWO shadow Frankies, one for each aisle of the theatre, and they were both guys. Out of the few dozen times I've seen RHPS since then, I'd guess maybe 70% of Frankies have been women. Which is not very exciting for me, although I admire their commitment.

But two hot young college guy Frankies, PLUS the giant onscreen Frankie, was almost more than I could stand. Oh, MY.

Since that night I have seen RHPS maybe a couple dozen more times, once at the 8th St theatre in Manhattan where it all started, a few more times in Blacksburg, a few times in Atlanta, a few times here in Orlando. I've seen it in theatres that were pretty much deserted and had no shadow cast at all, I've seen shadow casts that tried hard but really fell pretty short of the mark, and I've seen groups that clearly spent a lot of time and effort rehearsing and making props.

I think the shadow cast at the giant movie theatre in Citywalk at Universal here in Orlando is one of the best I've ever seen, rivaling even the amazing 8th St theatre. They call themselves the Rich Weirdos, and they are really INTO it.

Tonight will be my third time seeing them. Yay! I'm excited. And the part I am most looking forward to is that same STEP, STEP, STEP anticipation followed by the shot of Frankie in the elevator. Followed by Frankie prancing around in his stockings and garters, singing Sweet Transvestite.
Don't get strung out
By the way I look
Don't judge a book by its cover
I'm not much of a man
By the light of day
But by night I'm one hell of a lover

Link to YouTube video