The Rocky Horror Picture Show was very much off my radar until about a month ago. Glee's tribute episode to the cult phenomenon was rapidly approaching, and a friend of mine decided to audition for a local production of the show, and suddenly Rocky Horror was everywhere. I decided to be more informed. The plan? Rent the movie, then watch it. Then, watch the Glee episode. Finally, see my friend in the production. Best plan ever! It really was the most sensible way to introduce myself to the Rocky Horror phenomenon.
Well, this plan did not unfold the way I anticipated.
Here I am, a few hours before Glee's tribute, and all I've done is attended the local Rocky Horror shadow cast production. That's right: my first foray into Rocky Horror was going to see it at midnight with a shadow cast.
Perhaps a bad idea. I couldn't focus on the movie at all, because there were a million other things drawing away my attention. Shadow cast members act out the movie as it plays on the screen, and their cohorts are often shouting insults at the onscreen characters at the same time. Audience members are simultaneously yelling back at both the cast and the movie, and throwing rice and toast and cards, and getting up to dance, and all the while I just kept trying to duck under the countless objects flying through the air.
In short: it was kind of a sensory overload.
Do I regret going? Not at all. In fact, I had more fun trying to figure out what the hell was going on whilst getting smacked in the head with a roll of toilet paper than I would have at home by myself in front of the television. It's actually the perfect way to be exposed to Rocky Horror. The show really is nothing without its fan following.
And it's remarkable that such a cult fanbase exists after 35 years. The loyalty and obsession displayed by Rocky Horror devotees is hallmark of the Internet era. The idea that a gaggle of people banded together in love of a piece of pop culture without message boards or forums or Tumblr or LiveJournal seems so impossible to me. And yet Rocky Horror fans did just that - and perpetuated their traditions for almost two decades before any kind of web usage arose.
It boggles my mind, truly. So I say, hats off, Rocky Horror fans. You love a movie that I can only really describe as the 70s gay psychedelic love child of Tim Burton and Baz Luhrmann, and you've loved it in a way that transcends space and time. I still may have no idea what exactly happens in the film, but I know to yell "Slut!" and "Asshole!" when Janet and Brad are onscreen, and I know that the faint smell of bread in the auditorium means the dinner scene is coming. I know about Rocky's famous muscle twitch, and I know to berate the Criminologist about having no neck.
Being surrounded by people who love The Rocky Horror Picture Show so wholly and unconditionally, backwards and forwards, made my whole experience rather charming. I may not be ready to don my fishnets and wig anytime soon, but dammit (Janet!) if I didn't enjoy the hell out of the whole production. And eventually I'll get around to seeing the movie within the comforts of my own home, without worrying about bread-shaped air missiles, and I'm almost certain it'll still be a lovely experience. I'll probably even get up and try to do the Time Warp. It's just a jump to the left, and a step the right, you know.