pation. Yeah. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sometimes, you have to experience things at a certain time in your life. You’re not always ready or receptive to what something can offer. No, I’m not coming out. It was the same way with the Pixies. It took me years to like them (as silly as that seems now). I was, like most heteros, resistant to the idea of this movie because most boys tend to grow up homophobic or just act like anything that can be construed as “gay” is abhorrent in order to fit in.
My first job was at Home Run Inn Pizza. Sadly, it goes down in my personal annals (that sounds weird) as only my second worst job (lookin’ at you, Fucktarded Party Boy Outlet). I was a food runner before graduating to bus boy or, more accurately, bitch. I met a young lady who was also a food runner and she was obsessed with the movie. She went to the midnight show of it almost every weekend, often in costume. I didn’t get it. What is with this movie that inspires such weird loyalty?
It wasn’t until Halloween the following year, when Comedy Central was airing it at some absurd hour of night, that I finally gave it a chance. I tuned in at the end with “the floor show”. I had no idea what in the hell I was seeing. Did it challenge my then-narrow views of male and female archetypes? To say the least. It was a bit confusing and uncomfortable but there was something else bubbling up beneath everything else. It was fun. I was grateful, for the first time, that CC had a penchant for airing the same program back-to-back on occasion because I knew that this was something I needed to see from the beginning.
Tim Curry’s performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter was spellbinding. He had such a commanding presence. He was a grease-painted charismatic genius with a great voice. He was a singing, cross-dressing Willy Wonka. Not since Gene Wilder had I seen a performance quite like this. Amidst the nonsense of the content, Curry and Wilder are so completely immersed in their characters that nothing appears out of the ordinary. They make you buy into their whimsical worlds. Granted, it is easier to believe in a man with a large confectionery plant run by orange dwarves than omni-sexual aliens creating buff dudes while manipulating space and time.
Apart from that were the songs. Of course, the songs. From the initial ivory tickling of “Science Fiction Double Feature” to its ending reprise, the film is bursting with a strange array of rock tunes. Richard O’Brien, who plays Riff Raff and wrote the original play, sings in a nasally whisper about an assortment of B-movie themes, actors, and titles. It sets the tone for what you’re in for: the ultimate B-movie. There’s science fiction (of the double feature variety), horror (not like Rocky), gender dysphoria, and singing!
If you haven’t seen it, you either live under a rock or are very narrow-minded. Even if you are a conservative coward, the songs could still be something for you. You’ve got 50’s style rock “Hot Patootie”, awkward love songs “Dammit Janet”, and Stooges-like punk rock with “Sweet Transvestite”. Well, maybe that last one isn’t for you. “The Time Warp” is so widely accepted now that it’s played at freaking weddings, and it’s soaked in sexual innuendo. Pelvic thrust, anyone?
I have owned the movie and the soundtrack on five different formats. After watching the movie the first time, I knew that I wanted these songs. It took forever to find a store that had the CD of the soundtrack but I eventually found it at the Sam Goody at Yorktown mall. It was expensive too, $16 or $17. And this was in 1997! And the record business wonders why people started illegally downloading. Next, I needed the movie. I found that cheaper…on VHS. It’s hard to believe but, at one time, my movie collection consisted of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Jurassic Park, and Rocky Horror. Pretty stellar, huh? That was it, all on VHS. The advent of DVD happened right when I was first employed and so my frivolity began.
Naturally, I had to own Rocky Horror on DVD and did. Despite my assertion that the soundtrack was flawed due to its omissions of “Sword of Damocles” and “Planet Schmanet, Janet”, I still bought the vinyl from Music Masters in downtown Downers Grove. This place has some interesting import options in such a small store. I managed to grab RHPS, INXS’ Listen Like Thieves, and a 45 of Michael Jackson’s “Rockin’ Robin” for cheap. Quite a strange haul, but a good one. When the 35th Anniversary blu-ray came out, that was an absolute must-have. It is inconveniently too tall for any of my blu-ray towers but it is forgiven due to its everlasting fantasticality (fantasticness?). Is this too much to spend on some old ass movie? Maybe to you, but aren’t you willing to spend for something you love?
You know what? Fuck it. Why am I defending this movie? People across the globe are still watching it weekly after 38 years. That is the very definition of lasting appeal. [Strange aside: I don’t like the crowd participation experience. I don’t enjoy people standing up and shouting in the middle of a theater, during a movie I actually love watching. I prefer to watch it at home and sing along. Is that wrong?] Nobody’s going to be watching fucking Avatar that far down the line. Calling it a cult classic doesn’t even do it justice. Maybe at one time that was accurate but as the world’s opinions have diversified, Rocky Horror has become more and more mainstream. Too much so, perhaps. While I think Glee is a horrid television program, I applaud them for having an entire Rocky Horror episode. That’s millions of people who are likely being introduced to the flick for the first time. Give yourself over…One of us! One of us! Whew…let’s never talk about Tod Browning movies. Even I have my limits.