One fateful Fourth of July, following a failed attempt to watch the fireworks from Love Circle during a westward wind, an ambitious and gracious triple-drag-Frank-N-Furter-as-the-Statue-of Liberty popped my cherry, and to put it lightly, I was infected. (No, it wasn’t the herp.) The Rocky Horror Picture Show bug took its toll on my life, and less than four months later I was hosting my own RHPS “live experience” at the Backdoor Playhouse in Cookeville (yes, we get the homoeroticism there; In fact, I like to think we celebrate it).
Criterion Pictures owns the rights to screen Rocky Horror, and the price seems to increase yearly. The last I booked it, the going rate was $400. Chances are that if you’re trying to book Rocky Horror at a small school in Cookeville, you don’t have have $400.
But, in a true “Dixie Downturn” spirit, I found that through writing a short paragraph or delivering a brief speech at a student government spending meeting I could pass that bill along to an entity with a few more dollars than me: my University. In our inaugural year we went a little overboard with marketing, which led us to break fire codes and turn people away. Apparently the name sells itself to such an extent that small capacity theatres require at least a two-night run and pre-show ticketing. But through the clusterfucks and catastrophes, I picked up a few tips for those who dare to host their own Rocky Horror Picture Show:
DO: Make a bitchin’, dance party playlist for the pre-show. The line forms incredibly early and it’s imperative to keep those scantily clad trannies moving to delay the freezing of their nearly exposed genitalia in the the late October chill. Plus, you’ve never had a better reason to bust out that awful Best of Tim Curry album. “Paradise Garage,” anyone?
DON’T: Spring for expensive liquor for the cast. Chances are excellent that Frank ‘N Furter will be sufficiently wasted by the time he shows up for makeup, and at that point Belvedere may as well be Burnett’s.
DO: Pass Columbia’s gold, sequined top hat before the show for a worthy cause. We once raised over $120 for the Human Rights Campaign. The charity thing makes you feel a little bit better about getting sloppy drunk in your skivvies. In public.
DON’T: Use that sketchy, half-broken wheelchair that you got for free off of Craigslist for more than one performance. You’ll spend more on bandages for Dr. Scott than you would on a new goddamn wheelchair.
DO: Find a host who can serve up a constant stream of creatively obscene one-liners and current call backs. My favorite comes from the Belcourt, where I first heard the exclamation, “It’s a dildo for the Jonas Brothers!” when Riff Raff emerges after the floor show with his alien laser-pitchfork. I credit Ryan Williams of the local cast “Little Morals” for serving as a shining beacon of vulgarity for all who strive to MC the RHPS.
DON’T: Think that it would be cool to show a late night double feature of Rocky Horror back-to-back with Shock Treatment. After one show, the once fabulous men in drag have become hot-fucking messes in garters; after two they will be passed out. Remember that you’ll be the one there until 5 a.m. cleaning up the puke of someone who clearly favors a diet that consists solely of rum and French fries – a puddle of vile mess that has been festering in the front row, waiting for your attention since “Time Warp.”
If you’re not interested in rocking it DIY style, The Belcourt is quickly selling out of tickets for their semi-annual screening of Rocky Horror. The theater has two midnight screenings on Friday (sold out) and Saturday (almost sold out) and just added a 10 p.m. screening on Halloween Monday. Doors open at 11 p.m. for the midnight screenings, prop bags will be on sale and tickets are $10.
Tickets will sell out, so hurry up and buy, lest you be shut out on the cold street, dressed in an ill-fitting corset.
// Photo by Lance Conzett.