The Rocky Horror Picture show is arguably the biggest cult film of all time. It’s been continually showing in theaters for 37 years. Yet it seems to not be on the hipster radar as much as one might think. There is something strangely uncool about it. Rocky Horror is for nerds, but a certain kind of nerd. The nerds from Revenge of the Nerds. You know, where for some reason they lumped the gay black guy in there. They were outcasts that were happy being outcasts and had better drugs at their parties. Rocky Horror is for goth kids with a sunny disposition and geeks that still got laid.
Maybe a quick primer is in order here if you’re unfamiliar with the world of Rocky Horror (shame on you!): Richard O’Brien wrote the musical which premiered in London, was a hit, starred the inimitable Tim Curry, told a strange Frankenstein-esque story of alien transvestites in a campy, B-movie, horror film style, but with glam rock songs, was quickly turned into a movie starring sex kitten Susan Sarandon and sex panda Meatloaf, went on to develop a cult following at midnight showings where audience members would act out the film in full costume in front of the screen, yell out jokes and responses, throw shit, etc. Got it?
Going to middle school in the deep South I had very little interaction with gay people. Or at least out-of-the-closet gay people. And while I didn’t think it was wrong to be gay, it still seemed gross or weird to me at the time. Yet when I saw Rocky Horror in the 7th or 8th grade, I loved it. I quickly became obsessed with it. And it’s because Rocky Horror doesn’t give a shit. There aren’t gay characters or straight characters, everyone just does whomever they want. Rocky Horror treated someones sexual preference how any intelligent cultured urban social hipster living in 2012 does – you don’t even think about it. They skipped the stages of homophobia or ultra-forced-tolerance and just went to straight to ‘whatever’. And this was in 1975, based on a musical from 1973. It’s probably the most inclusive and universally beloved slice of pop culture out there that features hot man-on-man action.
So, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC are doing a short run of The Rocky Horror Show at Lisner this weekend (March 16th-18th, 2012). Obviously with an all-male, all-gay cast things are going to get a little randier, and sure, there are a few extra dildos and crotch grabs, but in the end this is still a spectacle for all. And what a spectacle it is. The Transylvanian costumes are a sight to behold. They’ve been updated and revised into a giant gang bang mash-up of: Cirque Du Soleil, gay club culture cliches, high fashion, and otherworldly weirdness. Frank-N-Furter’s wardrobe maintains the spirit of Curry, but adds a little Gaga and loses the hair giving him an even stranger look. Magenta is a hot bitch and Riff Raff gets even more sinister. Well done boys!
Now this is actually a performance of the original play, which I’ve never seen, and I doubt I’m the only one. For an uber-fan, it was great to pick out the slight differences, and there were plenty of inside jokes too, like when a slow song (which I’ll call Brad’s Lament) was introduced as not being in the movie for a good reason. I don’t know how much this had to do with the original script or this particular performance, but there was additional (and needed) exposition to smooth out the flow and an extra helping of jokes. Certain gags only work in a live setting when extras are used as props, the cod-piece doorbell being a highlight. The set design is top notch, implementing projections and mounted flat screens to set the scene or set the mood. And of course the singing is divine.
As for audience participation – the crowd is encouraged to get rowdy and shout out as they do in the theaters. If you’re newbie, a quick search online should school you in the basics. The only rule is: don’t throw stuff. This is a nice venue after all.
Ok, don’t dream it, go see it, bye.
Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show
Book, lyrics and music by Richard O’Brien
Produced by special arrangement
with Samuel French
Friday, March 16, 2012, 8 pm
Saturday, March 17, 2012, 8 pm
Sunday, March 18, 2012, 3 pm (ASL)
Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW
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