A Personal Account of Enlightenment at The Rocky Horror Picture Show

27 Nov

By Jessica O’Brien

The night of Sunday, Oct. 28 marked a momentous milestone for me, a rite of passage if you will: the defloweration of my Rocky Horror virginity. At 10 p.m. at Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s ‘The Screen’, Frank N’ Fun Productions presented a screening of cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show for students of SFUAD.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show first appeared as a midnight showing on April 2, 1976 at Greenwich Village’s Waverly Theater. Greenwich, NY in the 1970s was known for its individuality, homosexuality, and defiance of expected norms—much like Rocky Horror. Thus, the movie catered well to its audience and just five months after the first showing, it had developed a festive reputation and devout following. At Rocky, you find the atmosphere to be more communal, friendly. It was, after all, the first movie where audience participation—props and counterpoint dialogue, a live cast reenacting movie scenes up at the front—was encouraged.


Call me a late-bloomer if you’d like, but after 21 years of living I had yet to experience the experience of the midnight Picture Show. I expected costumes, mild profanity, and a general permissibility of conduct, though no more than what you’d find at an off-campus Halloween party. I downplayed the prominence of these participatory ‘extras’, figuring that the movie-watching in itself would be the evening’s main focus. With my attitude channeling tolerance and my left cheekbone outfitted in a lipstick ‘v’ (for virgin), I entered the theater fully ready to let my freak flag fly, only to see—oh, God—the horror!

Hairy man-thighs in fishnet stockings; Chest hair protruding in place of cleavage.

I may be exaggerating a bit, but I swear, there was not a single man present that was not in lingerie. One young man even arrived in his superman undies—just his superman undies. I figured people would be dressed in drag, naturally. However, the guys wore a lot less than most of the girls. These kids of my generation talked boastfully and immaturely (like a gang of perverted children) of cocks, assholes, breasts, and boners. ‘Sexy bitches’ replaced young ladies, and I was even lucky enough to see a colleague of mine striptease down to her underwear for the audience (this girl is from my hometown, mind you, and our mothers know one another).

My qualms with the attendees’ behavior spurs merely from a personal bias of knowing all of these people, living with these people, admiring their opinions in class. I see them as aspiring scholars or friendly dormitory neighbors. Never once had I ever envisioned them as sexual creatures because never once had they ever acted even one-tenth as openly sexual as they did during the Picture Show.

And I couldn’t help but feel ashamed for not recognizing these acquaintances as something more: a person-in-entirety, with flaws and quirks and infinite multitudes.

My first time attending Rocky Horror had indeed devirginized me—not through the show, but through the open air—the sexual anarchy—of the surrounding crowd. Perspective had shifted: I felt a deeper connect. The profane nature that they reveled in lacked any apparent vulnerability, and though I was not about to join them, I could admire the bravery my peers embodied for that moment in time.

Imagine laying yourself out raw, fearless for the world of shyer minds like mine to judge you. How much courage must this demand?

Moral of this Rocky Horror Picture story: To each their own.