Friday, December 09, 2005

I Didn't Make Him For You!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show seems to have conspired to leap back into my consciousness over the past few weeks. I was in a DVD store recently and noticed that they had the 25th Anniversay DVD on sale which, although I already have it on video, I decided to buy because I don't really watch videos that much any more and the DVD had extra features on it. I didn't get around to watching it until a few nights ago.

Watching Rocky Horror is quite a nostalgic experience for me. When I was in my late teens (which places this firmly at the start of the '80s) I used to go to Rocky every other Friday night at the lovely big old Chelsea cinema in Adelaide, and after a while started performing in one of the crews that acted out the movie as part of the audience participation. I would have gone every Friday, but I worked on Saturday mornings at this time and couldn't really cope with dragging my ass to work on only a few hours of sleep every week. All up I saw it more than 60 times.

My love for Rocky was deep and abiding. Back then the audience participation was the highlight of the show. In the early days only about a third of the audience knew the cues and the lines, and we would call them out in unison to the delight of the rest of the audience. The lines were clever, affectionate and risque but not crass. More people understood about the throwing of rice and other forms of audience participation, but we would give the 'virgins' their cues and pass around rice, newspapers, toast and playing cards so they could become part of the show. We celebrated the film's birthdays with parties, and would celebrate the birthdays or other milestones of the 'regulars'.

It was a great time. I was already out of the closet at that time, and it was so cool to be in a room with a bunch of like minded freaks who wanted to live by the motto "Don't dream it, be it". Sadly, like anything that becomes too popular, its success eventually killed it for me. The crowds got bigger, with more people who came to gawk rather than participate. The audience got rowdier and much less clever, with people not understanding the timing, or the nature of the lines that were designed as affectionate digs at the film, and designed to enhance the fun. It got so you couldn't hear the film at all, and the mood changed to something more aggressive and less fun.

It still runs here in Sydney, and I haven't seen it for a bunch of years, but last time I did see it I was still disappointed. I don't love the film itself any less, and watching the DVD made many of the old lines pop straight back into my head, which was nice. I might even drag out all my old collectibles (like my complete set of bubble gum cards and original movie posters) one day and have another look at them.

Inside, a part of me is still a seventeen year old in my sister's cast-off platform shoes, a garter belt (which my mother bought for me) and surgical gown, striding up the aisle with a water pistol telling Janet to "Buy an umbrella you cheap bitch!".

11 comments:

Bodhi said...

Inside, a part of me is still a seventeen year old in my sister's cast-off platform shoes, a garter belt (which my mother bought for me) and surgical gown, striding up the aisle with a water pistol telling Janet to "Buy an umbrella you cheap bitch!".

Sweetie, I soooooo wish I was there in the audience to see that, just thinking about the mental image this formed in my mind caused me smile and laugh out loud. And you know thats huge, huh, considering where my head has been at of late.

I have long been wanting to buy a copy of this DVD myself, but was not mad enough to pay full retail. On sale, huh? I must check that out. In the meantime, will have to check out your copy .... I can hardly wait already .... oh the anticip ....

.... ation


:-)

[Back in the early 1980'a, and with my now favourite lesbian Annthea, we once dazzled, amused and I think probably terrified a country town nightclub when we launched into a single handed enthuastic dance of The Timewarp, complete with all the steps, after haranguing the DJ to play it. Dont dream it, be it, indeed.]

The Other Andrew said...

Bodes, E-Z DVD in Imperial Arcade had it for $15, that's where I got mine.

It's quite a mental image, no? My old friend Pat and I got our pic in the Australian Post once (classy), taken at one of the early birthday celebrations for the film. Both of us in full Frank-N-Furter drag. I also used to go dressed as a Transylvanian; tails, spats, birthday hat etc.

Good times. Maybe we should check the film out one Friday night and see if it is still as rowdy?

Glad I made you smile pet.

duane said...

What a great memoir! I would have NEVER guessed!!! I have only seen it once live, and the crew that performed were excellent. I loved this movie from the first time I saw it, and I probably should go again...

The Other Andrew said...

Hah! After all this time I'm still quite the surprise package. :-)

I'm not sure the audience participation thing is what it used to be, but I think there are a few theatres in NYC where the show crew and regulars keep things on track. If you do go see it, I'd be interested to hear how it was.

James said...

Agree with you about Rocky Horror and I have fond memories of the Friday night midnight showings. You want to go and see it one Friday night?

luscious loulou said...

I'm lucky and saw it so many times when it was still so fresh and fun for everyone. Nothing but smiles and laughter. Almost giddy. We were part of the "out in-club". And you only told friends.

Great mental images for me too, Andrew. I'm so chuffed that you have this in your background.

My mum loved this when it came to telly. If I was over on Halloween, she'd yell out to me in the kitchen that Tim was coming down the lift. I'd rush in to watch.

"How d'you do Iiii
see you've met my..

Then we'd sing it together (yep, my little mum, "I'm just a cheap transvestite..." and I'd do that ster-rutttt. Love that strut. And the lip thing. Good times.

Aw. Petal. Now I'm teary. I miss'er so. ::sniff::

yaniboy said...

Rocky Horror screen annually at Adelaide's sessions of Moonlight Cinema (http://www.moonlight.com.au/ ... actually it only screens in Adelaide and Perth this year for some reason)... and that's the only time (well, times actually) I've seen it with a crowd...

A summer's night, good friends, a pic-a-nic basket (Hey BooBoo!), a blankie and the three huge sofa cushions from my old sofa... and about 150-200 Rocky fans... the only downside being you can't throw rice because it makes the ducks explode (well, it swells in the bellies and kills them)...

My favourite open-air Rocky memories are hurling a piece of toast during the banquet scene and finding out later that it hit the new boyfriend (who I didn't like in the slightest) of a boy I had the hots for... SCORE! And the other memory is squirting my water pistol at one of a group of slightly obnoxious Yr 10 drama students and having him try and bury his head futher under his paper while I aimed quite happily at the triangle of skull that was still visible... I'm an evil troll if you annoy me. >:D

Of course, there was also the party my friends threw where we (after having a fair bit to drink) ended up acting out the whole movie along with the video... I was Frank... obviously... :P

The Other Andrew said...

James, I'd love to go and check it out! Absolutely.

Glad that you have fond memories too Loulou. Mentioning your mother made me think, just what did our parents make of this when we were younger? The dressing up etc. I had a younger neighbour who used to come along, so he would have been about 14, and one year his mum made a Rocky birthday cake for us (black icing and big red lips). Funny I'd forgotten about that.

I can empathise, it's been 20 years since my mum died, and I still miss her. It softens but never goes away.

yaniboy, that sounds like it was fun. (Is the Moonlight Cinema held on the bank of the Torrrens, btw?) Remind me never to piss you off, m'kay? :-) We used to take so many props to the film (newspaper, water pistols, rice, toast, playing cards, hot dogs) it was like carrying your shopping to the cinema!

Michael said...

I've never seen this. ::ducks and cringes::

yaniboy said...

(Is the Moonlight Cinema held on the bank of the Torrrens, btw?) Remind me never to piss you off, m'kay? :-) We used to take so many props to the film (newspaper, water pistols, rice, toast, playing cards, hot dogs)...
In the Botanical Gardens actually...

And yes, pissing me off... never a good plan... I hold dear to the ideal that revenge is best serves at subzero temperatures... :D

I also have fond memories of making toast while waiting for my friend to come and pick me up, only to let it cool down on the counter so I could take it to Rocky... hehehe

Oooh... the verification word is "rhbqb" very almost Rocky Horror BBQ... hehehe

Anonymous said...

My experience here in Knoxville, Tennessee, was somewhat similar. I loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show from the moment my friend and I stumbled into our first showing, two young "virgins" ready to be had. A few years later the crowds had changed for the worse, and even the audience's lines had morphed into unfunny garble. Some things are about a time and place, I suppose. Rocky will always exist in my heart (or perhaps a bit lower than my heart).