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!".