Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Losing my Rocky Horror Picture Show virginity

Sunday, September 26 was the 35th anniversary of the premiere of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I read this blog post on Monday, having missed all other notices that the anniversary was upon us.  As a teenager many of my friends were at least familiar with RHPS, but not me.  I hardly knew what "Time Warp" was, other than a song and dance from a movie that I thought had men wearing corsets and fishnets in it.  When I was in college, several of my friends told me how funny the movie was and that I should go to a screening with them.  But they warned me that as a RHPS "virgin," I'd have to stand up before the movie and be ridiculed.  And I wouldn't know any of the "shout-ins," so much of the movie might be lost on me.  I refused to partake in something so childish, so I put off seeing the movie.

In October 1995, during my senior year at Georgetown, someone from the Georgetown Program Board (a student activities planning group) asked members of Mask & Bauble (the most prominent theater group) to put together a live cast for a Rocky Horror screening at The Pub (once the on-campus bar, then a restaurant and program space).  I was dating my now-ex-wife Liz at the time, and she was and is one of the biggest Rocky Horror fans I know.  She got involved in the planning right away and claimed one of the roles (Columbia) for herself.  She pleaded with me to be a part of the production with her.  I tried but I couldn't say no and we decided that since I'd never seen the movie or the musical, it would be best if I took the role of Brad.  Seeing as I how I was then and still am a bit of an uptight guy, the part seemed like a natural fit.  We found other less-inhibited students and alumni willing to take on the rest of the roles.  We gathered the night before the screening to watch the movie and plan our live-action parts.  Ours would be a sloppy affair but to our benefit I was the only member of the cast who had no idea what he was doing.

The next evening, Liz and I met at my apartment and got into costume.  We fortified ourselves with a few shots of Stoli and took the rest of the vodka with us in a plastic water bottle to share with the rest of the cast.  When we arrived at The Pub we found a crowd already gathered and the audio and video systems ready to go.  However, we were missing one crucial item: the movie itself.  Someone from the GPB was supposed to have brought along a copy but either they'd forgotten it or they never showed up.  Luckily, the cast member who'd hosted us the night before lived nearby and still had the copy of the film that we'd watched the night before.  While she ran home to get it, Liz and the rest of the cast entertained the audience and ridiculed the virgins.  The live show went off mostly without problems.  We managed to act out the first hour of the movie, though we ran out of steam by the dinner party scene and watched the rest of the movie with the audience.  Before we left someone took a picture of all of us in costume.  I think I might have that photo at home; if I can find it I'll update this post.

That was the one and only time I saw RHPS in a theater setting.  In 2000 I went to see the Broadway revival of the musical, and I've listened to the soundtrack dozens of times.  I even sang "Sweet Transvestite" at karaoke a few years ago.  But I've never been to another live cast screening.  I should add that to the list of things I need to do here in New York.


Unknown said...

Cute post Phil! A nice story.

The one time I went to the Show, I brought a friend who had never really drank before and unfortunately, he was a natural and had stolen the whiskey bottle we were all drinking and was falling into the aisle by about 10 minutes in.

Unknown said...

I've only been to one showing of RHPS in the village way back when. I didn't get the hype.