“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was screened for the 42nd time at The Orpheum Theatre on Oct. 27. (Photo courtesy of http://bit.ly/2iGMDUY)
The annual midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at The Orpheum Theatre on Friday, Oct. 27 began with dance performances, a costume contest and a traditional ritual. The ritual called to people who had never attended a screening of the movie to go onstage and chant a humorous nursery rhyme. During the screening, the audience is meant to exhibit traditionally rude theatre behavior: yell, throw toilet paper and cards, and even dance in front of the screen during a musical number.
The MC and a dance performer at the show, Chris King, went to her first screening of the movie last year. King did not expect the liveliness of the audience members.
“I was so irritated. I was like, ‘Why are these people yelling? Why are they talking?’ If you go to a movie theatre and do that … I would throw something at your head,” she said. “I’d be like, ‘What are you doing? You’re behind me yelling in my ear. You just threw toilet paper and it hit me in the head, thanks.’”
The movie features a recently engaged couple who get stuck in the rain at night when their car gets a flat tire. They seek somewhere to call for help and stumble upon the castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a mad scientist, an alien and a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania.” Dr. Frank N. Furter creates a man and seduces the couple, making them stay until his servants release them and arrest him.
People oftentimes come to these traditionally midnight showings dressed as the characters, in outfits inspired by the movie, or in any costume or clothing they wish to wear.
“At “Rocky Horror,” you can be yourself. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, what your weight is, what you’re wearing. Everyone is going to love you, or at least someone is going to love you because you’re yourself. It’s a big family, we’re all here to enjoy this, crazy hair, crazy clothes, whatever,” King said.
The sense of community at the show promoted acceptance of individuality. Audience members were adamantly discouraged from making judgments or rude comments at fellow audience members. Some audience members came in full costumes for the contest—some wore sparkly makeup and flashy clothing—some wore their everyday clothing. Either way, everyone was encouraged to follow the rule to “have fun.”
“I could walk in with an ostrich on my head and people are going to be like, ‘Oh my god did you see she has a freaking ostrich on her head? What a great ostrich!’ It’s a setting where you can be yourself,” King said. “I think that’s the biggest thing and I think that’s why Knox students like it. I think that’s why I like it.”
With the main character being transsexual, the movie sparked controversy and heightened awareness for the LGBTQ+ community in 1975 and especially in the 1980s, when its peak of midnight screenings was reached. King feels that due to the movie’s significance for the LGBTQ+ community, it provides a wacky way for them to express themselves.
“Being a trans woman, that means a lot because it’s been a part of my journey as well. To get to this point was, ‘Okay, how do I learn to love myself? How do I learn to be myself?’ And so watching this movie and seeing this has definitely helped me through that because I’m like, ‘It’s okay to be yourself. This is a space where this is okay,’” King said.