The ‘Rocky Horror’ phenomenon

Every Saturday night before midnight at Hollywood Boulevard Theater in Woodridge, Ill., average moviegoers are scared away as the “Rocky Horror Picture Show’s” cast and crew arrives.

Between a petite blonde usher in a white tank top, walking furiously down the aisles screaming at the audience, and pre-show hosts embarrassing first-timers, if you haven’t experienced a show before, you’re in for quite a shock.

“I’m selling shit for $2! If you don’t buy my shit for $2 or don’t have any of your own shit, you’re gonna get shit thrown at you,” the usher shouted.

But it seems “Rocky Horror” has done exactly the opposite of scaring fans away.

With more than 10 theaters within 200 miles of Indianapolis that play the show regularly, “Rocky Horror” (in movie form) remains a “cult favorite,” attracting 18-25 year-olds, as well as people who are twice their age.

“Rocky Horror’s” plot goes something like this: after characters Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandan) get married, their car stalls at the castle of transvestite doctor, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry).

Chaos ensues as the characters interact with Frank-N-Furter’s creation, Rocky (Peter Hindwood), and spend an unforgettable night at the castle.

Perhaps the success comes from how loyal “Rocky Horror’s” following has been—it’s not unusual for fans to see the show more than 10 times per year.

Although the movie has a birth date older than its current audience, Butler junior and “Rocky Horror” fan Scott Janz said people still love the movie because of the universality of its theme.

“It deals with a lot of issues of sexuality,” Janz said. “It’s sarcastic, and people relate to it.”

Janz has seen the show 10 times since he was introduced to it as a junior in high school.

“It’s fun because it’s been accepted as fun,” Janz said, who isn’t fond of “Rocky Horror” because of its theatrical merit.

“The plot’s awful,” Janz said. Regulars know: it’s all about the experience.

Whether forcing them to jump up and down throughout the entire preshow, or the audience jeering at them while they’re forced to imitate celebrities, any and all public embarrassment has been accepted into the “Rocky Horror” culture.

Janz brought his friend and Butler junior Angela Miller to see the show with him for the first time in 2009 on Halloween night at Fountain Square Garden in Indianapolis.

Although Miller was a first-timer, the “Rocky Horror” regulars didn’t intimidate her.

“When it was raining [in the movie], people [in the theater] held newspapers over their heads,” Miller said. “[They] knew every line of the movie, every song.”

The interaction was something Miller liked and urges first-timers to include themselves in.

“It just brings a whole new dimension of interaction to it,” Miller said.

Miller said the movie is relatable, even to first-timers, because of how ridiculous its premise is.

“It’s very provocative,” Miller said. “It’s one of those weird movies that is very different from traditional pop culture.”

Most “Rocky Horror” regulars often dress the part.

Back at Hollywood Boulevard Theater, the crowd of more than 80 was slightly more dressed up for the occasion.

In drag or otherwise, not an audience member lacked a spirited outfit (whether it was a costume or not).

One of the “Rocky Horror” regulars sported leopard shoes, a red Misfits cut-off, a black fedora hat, a nose ring and chains—and he was underdressed. Others wore prom dresses and teased hair.

Crazy outfits aren’t the only “Rocky Horror” custom—security at Hollywood Boulevard Theater is intense.

Hollywood Boulevard Theater security guard and occasional “Rocky Horror” performer Scott Boland, who said it was common for theatergoers to bring guns or other weapons to the show, said the staff takes security seriously.

“It’s every week,” Boland said. “It’s what we’re used to. Everyone is so animated; we just don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

The security guards are so hardcore at Hollywood Boulevard Theater that before walking into the show, guests are subjected to a pat down of body and accessory search more intense than airport security post-Sept. 11.

But just like any other rules at the theater involving “Rocky Horror,” it’s explained with a smile.

“You should not do drugs at Hollywood Boulevard Theater,” Boland said. “You should’ve done that in the parking lot or mom’s house before you came. Seriously.”

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