‘Rocky Horror’ Celebrates 40 Years of Sex and Rock and Roll

Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Written by Andrea Asuaje

By Andrea Asuaje
BU News Service

I lost my virginity at the student union of the University of North Florida. I was 23. A little late, I know.

I’d been practicing for years on my own, over and over in the privacy of my bedroom. Sometimes my friends would join me. But it wasn’t until 2013 that I took the plunge with a couple hundred people in a crowded ballroom.

It was time for me to join the throngs of fishnet-clad fans at a midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

For 40 years, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has brought together lovers of musical theater, cult-movie buffs and kitsch enthusiasts, turning them into a hoard of creatures of the night, singing – and yelling – along to the 1975 camp classic starring Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The movie, originally panned by critics, grew in popularity after theaters began to screen it at midnight, drawing crowds of young people who began to follow the film religiously, dressing up in high heels and corsets to mimic Curry’s iconic mad scientist. They kept coming back and developed a running dialogue to the movie. They created “shadow casts,” troupes who act out and lip sync the movie in front of the actual screen. Talk about a picture-in-picture experience.

As of 2015, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has the longest-running theatrical release in film history, and there’s no signs of it slowing down.

Here in Boston, the tradition continues every Saturday night with The Full Body Cast, who perform the show at the AMC Loews Theater across from Boston Commons at 11:59 p.m. on Saturdays.

Virgins – denoted by the red Vs painted on their cheeks or foreheads before entering the theater – are initiated into the passionate cult through light-hearted humiliation. When I went on Saturday night, this included pairing up with another virgin and creating – and then simulating – a brand new sex position, a not-so-subtle assertion that this movie is, in fact, meant for adults. Or at least, for those who appreciate raunchiness and over-the-top silliness.

After the initiation comes the main attraction: a movie riddled with ridiculous dialogue, sci-fi and rom-com stereotypes, and songs that will get stuck in your head for days on end.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the main character, is a self-identified “sweet transvestite” who also happens to be a bisexual alien. His greatest creation? Rocky, of course: a blond Adonis meant to be his plaything. Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick play a chaste, newly engaged couple who, when in the presence of Frank-N-Furter, give in to their carnal desires. The rest of the cast spends the movie dancing, singing and getting busy.

At the midnight screening, the dialogue is mostly drowned out by highly NSFW commentary from the audience, egged on by the off-stage Full Body Cast members. The audience also throws props around the theater: Toilet paper soars through the air when Dr. Scott – “Great Scott!” – enters the scene; noisemakers whistle during the “birth” of Rocky; and rubber gloves snap four times during Frank-N-Furter’s lab scene. The laughs are nonstop.

A midnight showing of “Rocky Horror” is an experience unlike any other. When I think about other movies that appreciate fun and sex and freakiness, not one can compare to “Rocky Horror.” I first saw the movie during my rebellious phase, a time when I wore too much black eyeliner and spent all of my allowance on punk rock CDs. I was surrounded by friends who were questioning and experimenting with their sexuality. Like all hormonal teenagers, I was angry and frustrated with the world around me. “Rocky Horror” opened its arms to us all, the sexed-up, angsty and artsy outcasts who felt misunderstood. As silly as it sounds, I learned a lot from “Rocky Horror.” And I’m not just talking about sex. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is about letting your freak flag fly. It’s about being yourself and not being ashamed to celebrate sex and rock and roll. It’s about being a wild and untamed thing.

So if you’re ready to join the party, suit up. Pull on your best stockings, strap on your highest heels and lace up your sexiest lingerie. It’s time to pop your “Rocky Horror” cherry.

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