Rocky Horror picture Show gives provocative entertainment to Halloween crowd
By MacKenzie Chase
There is nothing like getting frisky at the movie theater with a complete stranger, especially one in drag. Ccome Halloween in Flagstaff, people line up outside the Orpheum to participate in the risque, but delightful, live-action Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Rocky Horror, first shown in 1975, gained popularity as a cult classic several years later when the audience participation began. While the idea of audience participation during a film is uncommon, Rocky Horror makes being loud and obnoxious at a film quite fun.
According to the official fan site and Sal Piro, president of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, the audience yelling counterpoint dialogue is what makes attending a screening of Rocky Horror so unique and enjoyable.
Not long after audiences began talking back to the movie, the shadow performances began spontaneously when several regular attendees starting lip-synching the lines with positive audience response. In some places, they have a permanent cast that put on weekly shows, but here in Flagstaff, Rocky is reserved for the Halloween season.
Kirstin Nelson, who played the part of Trixie in the production, has been a part of the cast for four years now.
“The Orpheum presents the show, but the cast does not belong to any of the performing groups in town,” she said.
It doesn’t matter that people can’t attend more often than once a year though; audience members become just as enthusiastic and engaged in the film.
“It’s amazing how witty some people can be. There are some standards which nearly everyone knows; [but] on occasion, and I’m hopeful that this will be the case this year, you’ll hear something that you’ve never heard before,” she said. “I expect there to be some politically motivated call backs this year.”
A main part of the participation comes in the form of a virgin sacrifice before the viewing of the movie. A Rocky virgin is someone who has never attended the live performance before. Virgins must be publicly humiliated through an initiation ritual, which varies from show to show and welcomes them to the crazy Rocky family.
“I take a lot of pleasure in sacrificing virgins during pre-show,” Nelson said. “It’s somewhat sadistic.”
There was an abundance of virgins at the early showing of Rocky Monday night, some unaware of this tradition and some who had heard the rumors and were looking forward to what was in store for them.
Jack Notabartolo, a sophomore electrical engineering major, was one of the lucky virgins who knew what to expect.
“My dad grew up in New York and he was so into Rocky Horror Picture Show that, when he DJed [on radio broadcast], “I’m Going Home” was his sign off song,” he said. “He prepared me for everything which is why — oddly enough — I knew a lot of the lines.”
This free-spirited attitude was shared by many of the other moviegoers who dressed up as their favorite character or simply wore lingerie. The atmosphere at the Orpheum Monday night welcomed people to be comfortable.
“Rocky is an entity unto itself — the cast is there to create something for the audience to interact with in a tangible way,” Nelson said. “We pull them on stage, teach them callbacks, run through them and the audience uses props. While other shows may choose to use the audience in some way, it is never to that degree and it is about creating an experience for them to see and connect with emotionally. Here, you can connect viscerally.”