The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been a movie that I enjoyed. It’s so outlandish and over the top that it has the ability to truly pull the viewer out of their own head and immerse themselves in the movie. For fans who really want to immerse themselves, there are showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show where attendees who are fans of the cult film show up dressed up as characters from the movie, or in anything fun and fabulous, really.
Are Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings where the lonely hearts go? It’s where mine went last Friday down at the State Theatre in downtown Traverse City, and I’m embarrassed to admit that it was my first time going to a theater to watch it. I know that these showings typically draw die-hard fans who know every line, and I had always heard about props being used throughout the show.
The night started with a pep talk. I was oddly nervous to go to such an interactive show with a cult following for the first time, alone. Would the other attendees know I was a first-timer? I don’t have any flamboyant clothes, am I going to look like a dweeb in just jeans and a t-shirt? I paced my apartment telling myself that I’d sit in the back and just observe. “I don’t have to be seen,” I thought. “I can just fade into the background.”
Because all my recent weekends downtown have been busy from the National Cherry Festival, it was a nice surprise to see a quiet downtown, especially on a Friday night. The streets were empty and all I could see was the State Theatre lights flashing. Maybe The Rocky Horror Picture Show doesn’t draw that big of a crowd, I thought.
There was a woman working the event that was directing the few of us in line on which booth to purchase a ticket from. I stopped and chatted with her for a moment about the movie, and like magic when I turned around there were decked out Rocky fans walking down E. Front Street towards the theater.
There were clusters of groups outfitted with fishnets, corsets, top hats, glitter, high heels and bold makeup of every variety. I watched in awe as they walked down singing, dancing, and laughing, seemingly appearing out of the thin night air. This was what I had always thought of when I thought of people coming to Rocky Horror Picture Show showings.
I shyly asked a dressed up, dragged out group of four if I could take their picture and they enthusiastically agreed. Lashes were batted and lipsticked smiles spread as they posed under the outside theater lights. The group was boisterous, fabulous and kind, with one of the four holding up their camera and snapping a photo of me saying, “Someone has to take a photo of you, too!”
My fears of being an obvious first-timer started to ease. The Rocky fans in TC are fun and gracious, not that I had a choice of trying to hide my first timer status, anyway. Upon walking into the State Theatre a tall blonde brightly asked, “Virgin?” as I stepped inside.
“Is it your first time coming to a Rocky show?” she asked.
Well, so much for being incognito. The tall blonde, Kendall Kotcher draws a large V on my cheek in red lipstick. Kendall is hosting the event along with Katie Zwick. Both women are working Traverse City Film Fest, and were selected as hosts for the movie showing event.
I decided to stick to my plan of sitting in the back, and I chose a seat towards the back in the balcony. There are other lonely hearts here, too. An old man sat alone a few rows in front of me, and another lone woman is further down from me in the row that I’m in.
Each attendee was given a bag of props, to my relief and my curiosity. As I waited for the show to start, I rifled through the lunch sack looking bag. A treasure of oddities were in the bag; a mini squirt gun, a latex glove, a glow stick and a stick with three plastic hands that slap together to make for quite the strange sounding noisemaker.
Attending the show is consequently, my first time at the State Theatre as well and I didn’t know what to expect but the theater is beautiful and the seats are comfy. The ceiling is lit up to look like a night sky, and a pair of sensuous lips are projected on to the closed curtains while we waited for the show to begin.
Before the show begins, Kendall and Katie come out to hype up the decently large crowd, and to make all the virgins stand up and take an oath. I rose along with my other awkward first-timers and put my hand over my heart. At the end of the oath Kendall encouraged Rocky vets to spank the virgins as form as initiation. Because I sat in the back, the closest people to me were an unassuming, middle-aged couple. I leaned over and asked the wife, “Ma’am, would you spank me?” To which she smiled and obliged.
The movie is delightful as ever, and the delight is enhanced by the theatrics of the audience. Audience members shouted out funny quips, most of which shouldn’t be repeated in print. However, I found myself laughing at the humor of the audience, more than the movie. Comedic audience members bounced off each other’s energy and it made for an entertaining evening. The lone wolf old man and I were sitting up taller in our seats by the end.
Who knew that Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings were so therapeutic? Being in a theater with a bunch of strangers interacting with each other and laughing at the same things is good for the soul. The end of the screening ended in a burst of audience clapping, and the cricket-like sound from the noisemakers rippling through the theater. The lone older man and I exchange a smile before exiting the theater, I don’t know about him, but I know I left feeling like a real Rocky fan.