Disclaimer: my memory sucks.
I was reading Wil Wheaton’s blog and his post on the Rocky Horror Picture show, and it reminded me of my first Rocky Horror partici -(consta)- pation (movie rather than stage show, I’ve never seen the stage show). Things were a little different for me, I’d listened to the audience participation album, over, and over, and over and over before I saw the movie.
The album was fascinating, almost magically transfixing. I can’t really explain why. But it was made even more surreal by never having seen the movie. I’d listen to it on my Sony Walkman, while going to sleep or doing whatever, amazed by the ability of the crowd to synchronise with the movie. I mean I really couldn’t even tell what was movie and what was audience sometimes.
Assuming you’ve seen the movie or the screenplay or heard the album, you’ll know there’s not really any mention of what any of the characters are wearing, or how they look. Ok, I’d sort of seen an image on the front of the album cover but it was only one image. So I guess I was in for a surprise when I finally did see it. My friend, who’d recorded the album onto tape for me, said we should watch it on video one day. Or maybe that happened after I saw it in the cinema. If he’s reading I’m sure he remembers.
Well well. Not quite what I was expecting, as you can imagine. More, skin that I was expecting. Certainly significantly more lace, and more gold lamé. But still, it was good to finally see what the hell was going on – there are some sections of the movie which when all you can experience is the audio don’t make any bloody sense at all. For example, the scene in the lab where the machine is turned on and makes a lot of whoooooooooommmmm type noises – no clue what the hell is going on if you just have the audio to work from.
So we watched it through, we shouted a few things and it was okay, it grew on me. Listening to the tape made a whole lot more sense now. I think that eventually I went to university, or it’s possible that this happened just before I went to university, as I say things are a bit hazy. But we found that a new cinema was opening in our home town, and for their opening night they would be hosting a Rocky Horror Picture show. Who could turn down such an opportunity.
I went as Eddy, I remember harassing a friend of mine to lend me his brown leather jacket, which he was clearly reluctant to do (especially since he knew where I was going to take it). My entire costume consisted of a stripe of tomato puré on my head to act as Eddy’s scar, and the desire to borrow a leather jacket (I’m pretty sure Dave never did let me borrow it, quite sensibly). Andrew wore a basque, I still have photo’s of him in it, which I swear never to show anyone. We piled into what I remember was quite a small car, maybe a metro or something, and drove to the cinema.
I have clear, absolutely clear recollections of driving past a police car on the way and getting a really good solid stare from the two officers in the front. I think we were all pretty nervous about being pulled over, and what kind of excuses we’d have to make. It added a sort of excitement to the whole deal, the risk of being pulled over (although we were obviously driving well within the legal limit), some guy with food on his head, another in women’s underwear, and who knows who else in the car (I don’t, memory explained above).
The cinema made the mistake of offering free popcorn. I’m not sure what they were thinking. Hundreds of people, who’ve come along itching to throw stuff around in a cinema, with water guns, and they handed out free popcorn. I don’t think anyone ate any of it. I do remember going home with it stuck to me, my feet, my hair and my clothes. And I vividly remember leaving the cinema walking through a trail of popcorn on the floor.
I remember throwing stuff, and shouting stuff and standing up and wafting the smoke away from the side of the screen (I stood in the aisle, not on the stage, not brave enough for that) at the right moment. I remember belonging to this club of complete lunatics for the length of the film. I remember it being a fantastic night. I remember spending a lot of time trying to ensure the people in underwear I was gawping at were in fact female.
I have no clue how much it cost the cinema company to clean that theatre but I’d like to thank them, erm, around 18 years later (roughly), for hosting that evening, it really was excellent.
And 18 years on, Rocky Horror Show participation is still a part of my life (like far too many movie quotes). I’ll be quoting it until I pop my clogs I should imagine, I listened to it so much, I just can’t get it out of my head.
So if you ever meet me, and half way through something you’re saying, I call you a slut or throw rice in your face, it’s probably not intentional. I promise.