We won’t be talking about any kind of recent reboot, or any sequels, or Broadway plays. This is about the 1975 Rocky Horror Picture Show, and specifically the Bawdy Cast at the Clay Theater in San Francisco.
Going to Rocky Horror seems to be a new experience every single time. I can’t confidently say I am a VIRGIN because I feel every time I come, I learn and discover something totally new and different. What I have been trying to uncover and figure out is how something like Rocky Horror has lasted the way it has for the past four decades. Where does Rocky Horror rest in the annals of cinema history? Deftly among the greats. Step aside, Citizen Kane! Bow down, The Shining! Go home, The Godfather! Rocky Horror is some of the most important cinematic work to ever be made.
Going to see this film in a live audience is not like going to see Venom or Mid90’s. It is an experience and event that rests in its own sphere of reality. It is different because you aren’t just going for what happens on the screen. I mean, you are, because Tim Curry is an absolute master of the screen and is a beautiful amazing person whom you never get tired of. Ever. You go to see Rocky Horror live for something else, something intangible and hard to describe.
I don’t think I even have a concrete answer for why I and many others go back to see Rocky Horror. Why can I still go back and find myself screaming random shit at a screen with a hundred other people? Is it a sense of community? Is it just pure fun? Is it something spiritual? Is there something euphoric and ecstatic from the experience? I think it is all of these and so much more. Rocky Horror isn’t just a film. Rocky Horror has managed to do something few films can. Like Jaws, that made a whole generation afraid to go into the water, Rocky Horror is something we as humans can’t seem to get out of our minds. It is beautiful, grand, wonderful, and necessary for the existence and success of our society.
Sitting among people screaming “asshole, slut” at the screen seems odd at first, but while fully immersing myself last night, I realized something: Rocky Horror is not just a fun midnight film to go to drunk. For some, it means something deeper and meaningful than that. There was a couple that was in their 60’s I sat near and that’s when it hit me. For them, they probably saw Rocky Horror when it first came out; shit, they probably saw it on their first date, let’s just run with this. This is fun. This film may have been what saved their early budding relationship, it’s the first film they made love to, it was the film they see together every year. Whatever this film is for them, they were screaming “asshole and slut” right along with me, and that’s when I came to see this film is unique and special all for different reasons. After getting over the fact this couple, who are likely someone’s grandparents, were screaming the things we scream at Rocky Horror, I found an even deeper appreciation and love for this film. This film helped me get through a breakup, helped me fall in love with another, bond with roommates. It is something that isn’t just important for the individual, it is important for the collective unconscious.
Films and movements like The Rocky Horror Picture Show are something that almost feels more important today than ever. With where the world feels like it is going, cinema, and art like Rocky Horror, to me, is necessary to keep relevant and conscious. I am an optimist and think that the world will become a better place, eventually, but will only be possible with work like Rocky Horror. With recent events, Rocky Horror isn’t used to distract us from anything, but to remind us that love and openness exist in the world.
Rocky Horror gives me strength and encouragement to be myself and love myself. Unlike other things that make me feel like only hate exists in the world, Rocky Horror instilled hope in me again to be myself and be the best person I can be, and if others don’t like it, I can tell them to suck it. There is a time and place where you can go and smile, dance, and scream “fuck that chin” with your grandma and roommate and be okay with it all, that place is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I love Rocky Horror and am so glad I live in a world where it exists. I wish I could travel to Transexual and meet Frank-n-Furter’s family, but this film and the wonderful people involved in it will have to do until we find a way to get there. Maybe we will, maybe the whole world will fall apart, but with something as wonderful and grand as this, it makes the ride just a little bit easier. God bless you, Rocky Horror. God Bless you, Bawdy Cast, and God Bless all of you wild people who have been going to these shows for the past 40 years and bless you who will keep going.