Column: Rocky Horror — A time warp during The Time Warp

Official poster for the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The famous production, which was originally made as a movie in 1975, encompasses the vintage spirit of the early '70s.

Photo credit: LOC.gov

Official poster for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The famous production, which was originally made as a movie in 1975, encompasses the vintage spirit of the early '70s.

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Disclaimer: This show is R-rated and may not be appropriate for younger students. 


We applied thick, dark eyeliner, put on our torn fishnet stockings and frizzed our hair. Now finally, we were ready to do the Time Warp.

The cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” tracks lovebirds Brad and Janet as they wind up at the mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “transvestite” scientist who created the perfect boy toy, “Rocky.” During their stay at the mansion, which is filled with rowdy musical numbers, Brad and Janet meet an array of freakish, wild characters and slowly lose their purity.

Attending the midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Nuart Theatre feels like much more than just a right of passage into teenagehood. Rather, this interactive movie experience connects people to a subsection of Los Angeles teen desire to lovingly mimic past decades. This enthusiasm for partaking in old tradition extends way beyond Rocky— it’s impossible not to spot a teenage girl sporting a scrunchie or fanny pack — but this theme seems overwhelmingly present amongst those engaging in the Rocky Horror experience.

However, feeling “vintage” (not quite antiquated nor outdated, but vintage) is not the sole motive for joining the widespread Rocky cult following. There is something so liberating, so accepting, so provocative about the whole production.

From the moment you step onto the block of the venue, you are met by a group of frenzied and vociferous individuals wrapped around the building in an interpretive line. Each Rocky Horror Picture Show attendee is dressed to the nines; if they aren’t wearing a Rocky Horror themed costume (which may include a gold speedo or a corset), they are boasting black leather, outlandish, Siouxsie Sioux inspired makeup looks or some form of lingerie.

If you seem timid, clearly subdued by your surroundings, you will likely be dubbed a “virgin” — a.k.a a first-time Rocky viewer — and thus will be thrust into a customary ridiculing. Losing your Rocky Horror Picture Show “virginity” means subjecting yourself to a ceremonious virgin initiation included in the pre-show festivities and receiving a lipstick makeover, or simply an attack of red lipstick writing all over your body and face indicating your status.

But have no fear — the night is not just pure derision. The performance becomes a breeding ground for creativity and expression as the audience calls back ad-lib responses to the on-screen action and imbibes the zany culture.

Why is it that us teens love to dress up like our parents did “back in the day”? It goes beyond the fun of costuming ourselves and flaunting a new identity for a late night show. Instead, it speaks to our desire to pretend like we aren’t part of the 2018 Snapchat filter/James Charles era (not that there’s any shame in being a Sister). Growing up in 2018 can often feel more embarrassing and frightening than it does hopeful. Now more than ever, shaking off the present and exuding our most open selves can be empowering and enlightening (not to mention really fun). The Rocky Horror Picture Show is, therefore, the perfect venue to be released from the present to instead enter a “vintage” world of freedom and fluidity.

The showroom vibrates with acceptance and energy, celebrating all sexual identities and quite frankly, all people. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a hub of unique, expressive teens banding together to put a rebellious, modern twist on an old, but very spunky, tradition. So hey, if dressing up like Susan Sarandon and warping time back to the traditions of our parents makes you happy, we say let’s do the Time Warp.

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