Back in my high school days, on Fridays and/or Saturdays, my little circle of weirdos would make a trip to the local supermarket around 10 or 11 at night. There, we would stock up on rice and water pistols and, if no one had one on the floor of the car, a newspaper*. Then we would head to the only suburban movie theater in our area–the AMC at Marina Pacifica mall on PCH–that still/ever had midnight showings of our favorite freaky cult classic.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was always something of a right of passage for the artsy misfits of the world (including auctioning “virgins” off before the movie began). It was and still is a truly awful movie. If you remove the audience participation, it is virtually unwatchable. Except for the fact that it isn’t. Oh, it’s bad; there’s really no way to get around that. But it has some of the most awesome music ever, endearingly corny performances by Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon, and Tim Curry.
Curry’s entrance is classic. He owns the campy, melodramatic, drag queen mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter. I can’t really imagine anyone else playing this role with such obvious relish, channeling everyone from Divine to Joan Crawford. But his Frank isn’t a joke. He’s the most human and humane character in the whole movie, in spite of his pettiness and jealousy. He’s just as blinded as everyone else, but his blindness seems to be rooted in the need to be loved, to be seen for himself. That’s the message of The Rocky Horror Picture Show: You can be square or freaky, uptight or unraveled, just be yourself.
I haven’t seen RHPS in a long time, but the joy and freedom of sitting in the dark with a bunch of my fellow freaks and weirdos, throwing rice and toast at the movie screen, shouting out semi-scripted ad lib lines, stays with me. I know that no matter how it feels sometimes, I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who’s ever felt like an outsider. And there’s always a movie theater somewhere I can go to be a part of the show.
Don’t dream it, be it.
*The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of the best arguments I can make for keeping newspapers in business. It just wouldn’t be the same holding computer printouts over our heads.