November 4, 2022 | CULTURE | By Sophia Lisco | Illustration by Iris Guo
It’s the longest-running theatrical release in film history and it’s not for the faint of heart. “The Rocky Horror Show” is, for many, a Halloween staple.
What once started as a box office flop, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has amassed a cult following and even infiltrated the mainstream. Complete with plenty of subtle nods to B-horror movies (and roughly paralleling the story of Frankenstein’s monster), Rocky has sparked parodies and solidified itself in pop culture.
This Halloween weekend, Rocky Horror enveloped the Colorado College campus, reaching as far as Sigma Chi’s infamous Jell-O-Ween party where students were reportedly seen doing the Time Warp.
As the first ever collaboration between the Music Department and Student Theatre Workshop, “The Rocky Horror Show” blazed a trail on campus. Those who weren’t quick to reserve tickets were out of luck as all four shows sold out soon after the form was opened. A select few students were lucky to spend their Friday night picking up free dinner from HallowQueen Fest before attending Rocky, returning just in time to catch a drag show in Bemis Great Hall. Some students even returned for the 3 p.m. matinee show on Saturday to find Taylor Theater packed to the brim with Colorado College students, families, alumni, and community members.
The Rocky Horror “virgins” in the audience, who had never seen a live production of the show, were easily identified by the bright red Vs on their hands and cheeks. Written in lipstick, this reverse scarlet letter doubled as an invitation to participate in a Rocky Horror pre-show ritual— the details of which are unfit for print (though faint sounds of balloons squeaking and popping were reported by those nearby).
These newcomers also may have been unfamiliar with the unique participatory nature of a live Rocky Horror Show. Over at the Frankenstein Place, rules are made to be broken and heckling is encouraged— the more creative and lewd the comment, the better. Different scenes might call for a particular audience callout, such as mentions of heroine Janet Weiss (Boo!) or rival scientist Dr. Scott (Beam me up, Scotty!). The best quips, however, are the well-timed dirty jokes, and the CC Rocky ensemble nailed it.
Across the country, well-prepared fans know the right time to throw flower petals, rice, playing cards, and even (at the raunchier theaters) hot dogs. Those in the audience who forget to bring a newspaper might get their hair wet, as an array of water pistols will often shower the actors in an early scene. Don’t know the choreography? The Rocky writers have you covered, all you have to do is listen to the lyrics and you’ll be dancing the Time Warp.
Will Burglechner ’23, who produced the show, admits that Rocky takes on some sensitive material. “We know that the behavior and language used in Rocky Horror are not acceptable in today’s world,” the program says, noting that the content shouldn’t be taken at face value.
Fans believe Rocky to be, at its heart, a celebration of sexual discovery and Queer liberation. The plot might not make sense the first time (or the first few times), but it’s the glam rock, the fabulous costumes, and the aura of acceptance and empowerment that keeps people coming back.
Rocky fans are fierce, unapologetic, and are very willing to give themselves over to absolute pleasure. Rocky Horror is a celebration of everything abnormal and everything that makes you, you. If you ever get the chance to go to a live show (and let’s hope you do), don’t be afraid to sing along, yell at the actors, throw props, embrace the abnormal, and remember (as Frank-N-Furter will have you know) don’t dream it, be it.