Our local shadow cast is performing this weekend and it’s had me reflecting on the impact of Rocky Horror Picture Show on my life, specifically live shows and shadow casts. Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic that has been running consistently in theaters since it’s release in 1975. The iconic film takes you on a strange journey with Brad and Janet as they find themselves lost and end up at an alien’s castle where he’s just build himself the perfect man. It’s absurd and ridiculous in all the best ways.
Out of the film’s cult following came the live show tradition where a shadow cast performs the movie in front of the screen as the film is played. It is a singular experience and different every night and in every location. Here in Abilene, we have the Untamed Things and we perform every few months at Play Faire Park, a historic putt putt golf course here in town. My first live shows were in Ft. Worth, but now the Untamed Things are my Rocky Horror Home.
Now, I can see that you are shivering with anticipation, so without further ado, here are three things I love about Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Body Positivity! Now, the original film may have stayed with typical Hollywood bodies, live shows are often very accepting of all the beautiful people who attend. We have people of all shapes and sizes in our casts and everyone is welcome. It’s not about being a certain type or fitting a certain mold at Rocky. It’s about loving yourself exactly as you are and owning it. Any one can dress as any character, even if you don’t fit the same “type” as the actor in the film. Sometimes, dressing as a character that you don’t “look like” can be incredibly liberating and wonderful. Plus, everyone looks good in a corset.
- Sex Positivity! If you’ve seen the film, I’m sure you are aware that it is very accepting of all expressions of sexuality. Live shows take that message and turn it up a few notches. Whether you’re a scene one Janet, or a floor show Frank, whatever level of sexuality you wish to express is welcomed and invited; and it’s completely up to you to decide what you feel most comfortable with. You can rock your slackers and blazer or an awesome corset, whatever feels best to you. Personally, the show has helped me to accept myself as I am and see that all aspects of my being are important and valuable.
- Inclusivity! There is no discrimination at Rocky shows. We don’t care about your background, heritage, identity, occupation, political stance, whatever. As long as you are there to show your love and appreciation of Rocky, we welcome you into the fold of unconventional conventionalists. There is such variety in personal expression at Rocky shows and there’s never a sense that you have to express yourself in a specific way just to be accepted. One night, I went to a live show in Ft. Worth and unbeknown to me it was “Fetish Night”. Most of the attendees were in bondage and leather type outfits, but one person came dressed as a pizza. Everyone loved the pizza just as much as any other costume.
- Consent! All that being said, the one thing that is constantly being talked about at Rocky shows is consent. People come dressed in some very risqué costumes, cast members are in very risqué costumes, but what you wear does not equal consent. The way you act at the show, on stage or off, does not signal consent. Each Rocky show I’ve been to has been very clear that consent is always needed and has to be explicit when interacting with cast members or fellow audience members. For example, during The Time Warp there is a line “put your hands on your hips” and the audience participation response is often “or somebody else’s” during which you grab your neighbor’s hips for that moment of the song. At my first live show, the person behind me grabbed my hips, but leaned in to ask if it was okay. It’s “part of the show”, but it’s not assumed that everyone who attends consents to the same actions in the show, and that’s pretty awesome.