Cult classic attracts freakish followers

Campus Times
October 31, 1997

photo by Echelle Avelar

Janet and Brad had no clue on that fateful night that they would end up at Dr. Frank-N-Furter's castle with his sidekicks Magenta and Columbia. Looking for a phone to get help after their car broke down, the couple was whisked away into the crazy world of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The movie plays every Saturday night at the Rialto Theater in Pasadena beginning at midnight. Audience participation is not just encouraged, but required.

by Erica Aguilar
Features Editor

Halloween costumes, gothic cross-dressing and the typical grunge look is what describes the infamous "Rocky Horror Picture Show" playing at the Rialto Theater, in Pasadena.

Dionizio Fisher, a Los Angeles resident, said, "This is the first time I have been to this show at this theater, so I don't know what they are going to make the audience do here."

The "Show" starts every Saturday at midnight and lasts for approximately three hours. At the beginning, all volunteers are asked to enter the building before the spectators can enter.

After the audience is seated and has purchased popcorn, candy and refreshments, Jeff Foss, the host of the show, does a monologue of profanity and jokes, since the show is aimed at a mature adult audience. No one under 17 years of age is allowed.

Jeremy Willis, assistant manager of the Rialto, said, "Our normal show runs until 2:30 a.m. and usually only consists of a monologue from Jeff and then the actual movie. Last week's show was actually different."

Foss started his act by jumping off stage, screaming vulgarities in order to get the audience pumped up for the movie. He then asked all participants in the costume contest to come forward in front of the stage. After choosing the people he thought were best dressed, the audience applauded between a man dressed like Uncle Fester from the movie "The Addams Family" and a young woman dressed as a nurse, complete with a tight fitting dress that won enormous applause by the audience. The nurse won the contest and received four free tickets to return to the show.

Shortly after the contest and monologue, a few lip syncs were performed on stage, such as the song "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor.

"Most of the people that participate are volunteers and they work with Jeff," Willis said.

By 1 a.m., the movie actually started but before it did, a cartoon of "Tom and Jerry" was shown. Next, film credits, such as "Saturday Night Fever" and "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark," rolled before the film.

Finally, the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" begins and selected participants play out each scene of the film. The fanatics are screaming and singing out a script of their own version of the movie.

Though most "Rocky Horror Picture Show" viewings have audience members using props and partaking in a ritual, the Rialto Theatre was unusually tame.

Audience members remained in their seats, but some danced, sang, ad-libbed responses and followed the script that seemed passed down from generations.

The movie takes viewers into the lives of Brad and Janet, a preppy couple who get lost and then stranded. They then fall into the hands of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his tangled web of transexuality and free love.

Audience members then watch these characters encounter betrayal and sexual exploration, as they struggle through Frankfurter's world of temptation.

Because the movie is also a musical, viewers also enjoy singing along with the characters. The off-the-wall music that drove the dark comedy crossed the lines of rock and roll and opera.

Junior psychology major Lisa Naranjo said, "If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't because the freaks were a little too freaky for me."

Overall, fans of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" truly appreciate it because of their devotion to travelling and paying to take part in it every Saturday night. The cost is $7.50.