V for Virgin: ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
Hofstra hosted a screening of the 1975 cult classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” this past Tuesday, Oct. 30. The event was complete with prop bags for the audience filled with playing cards, newspapers, glow sticks, toilet paper and more, as well as a live shadow cast reflecting the on-screen events.
“Rocky Horror,” a story about a young couple who is forced to spend the night in a castle full of interesting characters after their car breaks down in a storm, was met at its original release with relative indifference. The movie has gained popularity slowly but surely and has amassed a cult following. A large part of that popularity is likely due to the development of the audience’s participation in the theater screenings. This has morphed the film from being simply a movie to an experience – one Hofstra students brought to life quite well.
First-timers to the live show were given the traditional “V” for virgin in red lipstick on their face, and prop bags were given out for a small price (minus things like rice and water guns that would be more difficult to clean up). Before the show, several of the “virgins” were called up to stage for the “Virgin Sacrifice,” known for asking newcomers to the show uncomfortable questions. In this production, the question, “What is your favorite cartoon character?” was asked down the line, followed by, “Now what do you think that character would sound like having an orgasm?” The “Virgin Sacrifice” set the tone for the night, getting everyone in the audience into a fun, silly mood to properly participate in the show.
The call-and-response actions of the audience, mostly taking place in the long pauses between characters’ lines, is what truly makes the “Rocky Horror” live screening so memorable of an experience. While the rampant use of the term “slut,” used by the audience to describe Janet in many scenes, can be a bit problematic in today’s society, it is an integral part of the audience experience that plays into the raunchy nature of it all rather than intending to cause actual harm.
Hofstra’s shadow cast was truly a sight to behold. With costumes and set pieces that matched those in the movie almost exactly, they added perhaps the most important experiential element to the show. Entering from all sides of the theater and stage, they chased each other around the rows of the audience and reminded us of the states of characters that the movie neglects for a few moments, such as Dr. Scott’s frozen state during one of the ending scenes. They had everyone on their feet during the iconic song “The Time Warp,” as well as helping direct audience actions during other important scenes. The shadow cast was so entertaining to watch that many audience members must have found themselves paying more attention to them than to the actual film playing above them.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is one of the most bizarre films in recent memory, but the racy Dr. Frank N. Furter, creepy servants Riff Raff and Magenta, shockingly normal Brad and Janet and many more characters have time warped their way into becoming sexy, funny cultural phenomena that won’t be returning to “the planet of Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania” any time soon.