Monday, September 22, 2008

Rocky Horror confessions

I've probably seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show more than any other movie. Yes, more time that Star Wars or Clerks or even A Christmas Story.

I stopped counting when I hit 600. Seriously. I can quite literally recite it backwards and forwards, and I know all the naughty bits to yell out in the theater for the audience participation.

I did the stage show (The Rocky Horror Show - which is the stage show as opposed to the movie because it lacks the word 'Picture', see?) and participated in a live-cast-in-front-of-the-movie experience for close to 10 years.

Not usually something I admit much, or even often bring up in mixed company (like much of my true hardcore geekdom).

It all started when I was around 12, living in the San Marco area of Jacksonville. They had an old theater there that showed the movie late nights on weekends, and I lived just around the corner. I'd go there a fair amount to catch the dollar movies. One night while leaving the theater I saw what looked to be a costume party waiting out front. Girls in fishnets and bustiers. Hell, guys in fishnets and bustiers. Guys in nerd glasses wearing tuxes. Men and women dressed as bikers, butlers, maids as well as all other manner of unconventional conventionists.

I had to know what that was all about, so I stayed. What I saw was nothing short of amazing. Life changing, even. The movie (a crazy sci-fi horror musical about a tranny from outer space who comes to earth to corrupt wholesome good Amerrican kids and teach them to let loose their libidos) was being completely acted out by people in costumes in front of the screen. People in the audience shouted things in unison on key lines or at key moments. Also in unison everyone pulled out waterguns or newspapers, toast and hot dogs. It was the craziest thing I'd ever seen.

So I went back next weekend, and just about every weekend after. I got very good at knowing all of the audience participation lines. I even made some up. By the time I was 15 I was in the cast playing the parts Eddie and Dr. Scott. On "switch nights" everyone in the cast swapped parts based on gender, and I played Magenta. From 15 to 18 I spent virtually every Friday and Saturday night as one of the leaders of our own merry band of misfits, at the AMC Regency and the Murray Hill Theater.

No matter what else I had going on - other shows, parties, events, clubs - I'd always manage to make it out those freaky midnight showings. Heck, one time after we'd gone to a Mojo Nixon concert, we managed to get Mojo Nixon to actually come with us to the show. Quoth Mojo "Rocky Horror Picture Show? Ain't that where they got them men wearin' them black brassieres?" That night would also be my first introduction to drinking gin. Bad gin. In a mall parking lot at midnight in the back of a Nova with Mojo Nixon.

Only in Jacksonville, ladies and gentlemen ...

I collected an absurd amount of Rocky Horror paraphernalia over the years - shirts, buttons, books, posters - and the soundtracks. Oh, the soundtracks - I have versions in just about any language. I scored an original release of the cast recording on vinyl at a thrift store once for $1. I joined the fan club and got an autographed photo of Time Curry along with fan club president Sal Piro. For a while I was the official Jax fan club rep.

Even when I left for college I kept up my Rocky fix for a while. I always went back whenever I was home for the weekend, and I found a cast here in Tampa that I visited a few times but never tried to join. Even in grad school at UF I managed to even check out their cast, you know, for old time's sake.

So yeah, the impact is fairly significant. In a weird way it was perhaps my first time running a company as we'd organized to the point of knowing who'd do what parts what nights. Where the costumes and props would live and who would be responsible for bringing them. If we got in someone new and they needed to go in, we had rehearsals. Maybe me without Rocky Horror turns into later never producing or directing Gorey Stories, or The History of the Devil. You never know how that butterfly effect might have played out, right?

Now Tampa can stop dreaming it and start being it down in the Jaeb Theater for the month of October. The Rocky Horror Show (the stage show, not the movie - remember, it doesn't have 'Picture' in it) plays Oct. 2 - Nov. 1. I know I'll have to go at least once, if not 600.

There are special late night show at 10:30 which feature full audience participation (lines, props etc). You can't bring your own stuff in, but pre-approved items will be bagged up and sold in the lobby for $5.

And if you really want to get in on the action, show up in a costume as of an hour before the show for your chance to be able to win the ability to buy special on stage seating for just $15.50, which includes the service charge!


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