From cross-dressing, to throwing rice at the main characters, to shouting any number of traditional lines at the cast, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is rich with ritual. Started as a play in 1973, and adapted for the screen in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become a quintessential cult-classic. Its campy appeal and audience-engaging production style never fail to bring quite the eclectic group of fans to a showing.
Fortunately, in the fall of 2011, the Arcadia Honors Program began its own ritual of showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Joe Spearot introduced the idea to the Honors Executive Council and committed himself to making the showing a reality. Evidently, his efforts paid off and the cultish fans of The Rocky Horror Show on Arcadia’s campus came out in full force, “Our first year we got an overwhelming response from the Arcadia community and have decided to make it a yearly tradition on campus.”
When you find yourself attending a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, you should prepare yourself. You should always remember to review your list of necessities before showing up. These range from rubber gloves, confetti and newspaper, to water-pistols, rice, and in some places, toast. There are several cues that have been a part of the show almost as long as people have been watching it. At some important lines, scenes, or musical breaks, the in-the-know audience members are pretty much invited to throw things at the stage.
Engaging the audience has become something of a primary ritual for a successful showing. Arguably more so than for any other movie, the audience, and their adherence to the traditions of the cult, creates the magical appeal. Because the most successful audience involvement requires an intimate knowledge of the script the most hilarious interjected lines are pretty much a standard at this point. Extremely knowledgeable fans have become something of a staple for the experience as well, Spearot says, “When we’ve hosted it there have been at least a few people who knew most, if not all, of the lines.”
Becoming a member of the cast is sometimes as simple as showing up in your fiercest fishnets and watching the madness unfold. But, if you want to really enjoy it, there is a pretty rad tradition of existing, and hilarious, lines that you can interject at key scenes. These lines are pretty much the same for live productions of the show or screenings, but at live shows the cast often gets to respond.
If you found yourself at The Rocky Horror Picture Show you now know to expect to find some pretty fabulous costumes there. There is a long standing tradition that most, if not nearly all, of the audience shows up at least partially in costume, “it ranges from a little makeup to full-blown costumes.” The fun of dressing up (maybe in drag, maybe not, it’s really up to you) along with getting to shout hilarious lines at the cast while soaking them with water-guns, all in the name of silliness, help to explain the cult following that has come to surround The Rocky Horror Picture Show in its many incarnations.
A form of the production that is increasing in popularity is a “shadow-cast” combination of the two, with live actors mirroring the cast members and responding to the silly things the audience shouts at them. Sometimes the audience gets a bit over-zealous and actually overshadows the cast. Spearot remembers previous productions of the show, “there have been points where the audience is so loud that you cannot hear the movie.”
Another tradition surrounding The Rocky Horror Picture is the regularity of the showings that people put on. A large portion of screenings happen at relatively the same time every year, and a large portion of the fans come back for almost all of them.
So, if you find yourself bored and looking for something to do in late October and are into having fun you should find the nearest showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, invite your friends, buy your props, figure out the most badass costume you can on a budget, and get ready to get fabulous.
Photo by: Sebastian Dooris