Campy musicals are more or less defined by The Rocky Horror Picture Show – I first saw the classic supported by all its pomp and circumstance at an old theatre in Wichita, KS more than 20 years ago. It’s a Halloween favorite, though I don’t think the season had much to do with my and Michael’s decision to dust it off and watch the thing last night. Of course watching it at home is not like going to the productions in filmhouses, which are perhaps the pinnacle of audience participation spectacles. Michael and I did not put on heels nor did we bring any props for our home viewing pleasure.
The Show is part of the coming of age story for many people of my generation, I think. I haven’t done my research, but I think the late-1980s to mid-90s might have been the peak of Rocky madness. The filmhouse experience is part expressive, part sing-along, and part countercultural demonstration. It has all the fandom of a comic book festival and adds singing, but it’s hopped up on steroids – or maybe acid. The experience has always felt a little naughty and a little liberating – though it’s been many years since I’ve been.
After all these years the music is still as catchy as can be. Its innovative irreverence – long pre-dating South Park – is funny and somehow still a little shocking. The combination of free love mixed with a little gore and romp are at once tasteless and iconic. If you haven’t seen it in a while it’s worth another look – you’ll be humming for days. Jump to the left, step to the right, dream it, and be it.
Thanks for reading.
I first saw RH in the late 70s, and it was already pretty amazing, even in the smallish college town where I saw it. (At midnight in a theater, of course, with lots of folks already dressed up and singing along. And after the first time, I sang along, too, of course!)