So I was on Twitter the other day and saw that of all things #RockyHorror was trending. When you see something classic trending it usually means someone died or something is getting a remake. Low and behold there were thousands of comments and links to a new trailer for the upcoming Fox TV remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and of course the fans are mostly pissed. It’s the usual stuff. Yadda-yadda-yadda, classic, yadda-yadda-yadda, ruined childhoods, Yadda-yadda-yadda, HOW DARE THEY!. And I say, I love the trailer, I love the idea, the lovely Laverne Cox makes a perfect Frank-N-Furter (and she makes more sense in the roll anyway), therefore they basically have me at “hello.” Why would I, the urban geek comic collector political commentator and general snarky asshole, be all on board with the Rocky Horror remake? First of all there’s this:
Secondly, because me and The Rocky Horror Picture Show go back a long ways.
Science Fiction – Double Feature
The 1970’s has the distinction of producing a lot of quickly made shlock. Today you need much more of a budget, but yesterday new directors were throwing so much stuff against the wall to see what might stick it actually effected the fashions. Science Fiction and Horror took the most beating from this trend until Star Wars came along. These movies were mostly shown as double features – the first one being some unknown thing you had to sit through to watch the one you really wanted to see. When I reached the age of 14 and was able to go to the movies without parental supervision the Flatbush Avenue area had a lot of movies to choose from. Soon as you reached Church Avenue there seemed to be a movie theater on every block. Just off Church Ave and Nostrand there as a little theater called the Geneda about six stores down from the corner Carvel. The Greneda specialized in shlock science fiction or horror movies, the type that were graded lower than B-Movies. These are the kinds of movies that would end up padding video stores a few years later. When you read the history of Rocky Horror they talk about the successful stage play, then the movie being a hit right off the bat. That was not exactly true in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn in the 1970’s. On the West Coat it was a hit, on the East Coast it started movie #1 to most double features in certain places. It wasn’t the “cult hit” yet and therefore a little easier for movie houses like the Greneda to get. I was bored, earning some money from cutting apartment complex lawns and decided I wanted to see something, so I went to the theater on Church Avenue to see some schlock horror flick whose commercial caught my eye during The Six Million Dollar man. Can’t remember the movie’s name but I remember it was a really dumb take on Jekyll and Hyde – set in high school – with, like, 35-year-olds playing “high school students”. I was not into weed yet and High School was a year away for me at that time. This Rocky Horror Picture Show movie comes on and I clearly remember thinking, “What the fuck am I watching?”
Cut to 1978, I’m a Junior in John Dewey High School and had a crush on a girl named Melissa. Melissa had coffee colored skin, the most beautiful brown eyes you ever saw and hair that went on for days. She and her circle of friends dressed in what people would eventually associate with Goth in the 1990’s, so let’s give them points for being ahead of their time. They talked about going to a movie at midnight in a mysterious place called The Village and you had to dress up and you had to bring props. I managed to wiggle my way into an invite from and met them on 8th Street just off 6th Avenue at the Waverly Theater after promising my father enough chores to have me stuck in the house until those four horsemen finally showed up to end things. I the was only regularly dressed person on line and the tickets cost a whopping $8 or $9. (Yeah, back then that was a high price, kids.) My eyes was full of Melissa who was dress as Janet – I found out later – so I did not remember that the movie I was about to see was one I already saw a few years earlier until it actually started. I was like “Hey, I remember this.” Lucky for me to impress Melissa I found out about weed and booze. The viewing of Rocky Horror was an event. It was so much fun it became a ritual for me for many months of my High School life.
And no, I never got Melissa but there came another girl named Sandy which was it’s own depressing WB but in real life teenage story.
The third time I went to the midnight showing of Rocky Horror at the Waverly Theater I not only knew the lyrics, but I had the interactive cues and dance steps down too. Melissa, stripped down to the Janet Bra and slip (who looked 20 times better than Susan Sarandon – sorry Susan), pulled me on the stage to do Sweet Transvestite. I was drunk and high and was totally on board. Now this sort of thing happened a lot at a Rocky Horror showing. Time Warp, Damn it, Janet, Hot Patootie and various other songs had people either singing and dancing along on stage or at the seats and screaming things at the movie at particular instances. I was such a hit we ended up at one of the guys in our group’s house later that night where the girls put together my Frank N’ Futer outfit – my one and only Cosplay except Halloweens. I wore the Frank N’ Furter costume for 17 shows without anyone from the hood or from High School finding out. Back then kids were dicks but not dickish enough to pull some shit like showing the photos. I have two of them I will take to my grave before ever showing anyone.
Also, back then Tim Curry was our secret. When he popped up in a movie it would be a treat, until one day Rocky Horror got bigger then it’s fans and Tim Curry became an a-list character actor. To be honest it was after Sci-Fi’s IT that the secret was over, Tim became a full fledged, recognizable everywhere star and Rocky Horror was on it’s way to becoming a Broadway play. The midnight showings went from urban legends to news segment documentaries, and soon everyone on Earth knew about it. But those midnight shows lasted a long time. I just got to old and too involved in other things to keep going to them. Eventually the Waverly Theater closed and was replace by gentrification.
Once In A While
To all the fans who are going nuts because of the remake, calm the fuck down. First of all Rocky Horror was a play first, then a movie. It’s been recycled as a play ever since so it’s been remade a lot. Like with any remake the original still exists. It’s on blu ray and there are 35mm prints alive and well and can be bought for the price of a small island nation somewhere on the internet. The trailer for the Fox remake looks energetic and fun as hell. So put down the touches and pitch forks, give the show a chance. I think it will be a blast because if any movie deserves to get a remake with an actual budget it’s Rocky Horror Picture Show.