Life at the Rocky Horror Picture Show

This post is part of Not Your Average Week, a TNGG Theme Week.

I never thought a hobby would become a lifestyle. I am part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show: movie, musical, cult. The show takes place every Saturday night at midnight, in a dark theatre, where people dance and yell at the screen, covered in make-up and wigs, and wearing almost nothing.

I have been a part of it for six years, and I’m one of the younger members. I’m hooked.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the Cliff’s Notes synopsis: The 1975 film is about a young, “all-American” couple who become stranded at an eccentric castle (think Dracula’s castle) filled with transvestites, transsexuals, and people infatuated with sex. The theme of the film is “give yourself over to absolute pleasure,” an idea that has affected everyone who works at the show and everyone who loves going. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) is, in a way, a safe haven for those who love to act crazy, wear something scandalous, act scandalous, and not be judged.

Once I started going to the show, my friends all of a sudden had to “re-accept me” because I was doing something out of the norm they didn’t understand. People join groups all the time without their friends’ approval, yet I needed it. I also needed my parents to accept it, which did not go over well at first.

That’s when I knew I made a lifestyle choice. I don’t know the brain chemistry that results in one person liking the show over another, but most people agree it is a must-see – at least once. (Conservative estimate: I’ve seen the show about 420 times.)

At the show we encourage people to show up wearing practically nothing, to yell in the theatre, and to dance in the isles. Even though it’s the same show every Saturday night besides the pre-shows (short skits or dances) that change monthly – and that the cast rotates every other week – we always have a following. We have people who have never seen the show before, and then we have those who come every weekend to watch and sit in the same spot.

The show is a way for people to step outside of themselves. We have had people from all occupations join the show: Boston Police, firefighters, college professors, etc. The show is a way to escape reality, or for some people, escape a lie and relax in the reality of the show.

Being part of the show has definitely changed my life. I stopped attending outside parties on Saturday nights because I had to go to the show. (However, the show does have its own after-party!) Even if I actually didn’t need to go, I went. I felt awkward not going. At the show we all hang out together, during the film, after the show, outside of the show, and on holidays. Some of us even spend the major holidays together and ditch our families.

We’re the Island of Misfit Toys from the film Rudolph. It’s everyone who was considered “weird” or not part of the “in crowd” during high school, coming together at the show.

People also date within the show, myself included. Dating someone who doesn’t understand the show becomes difficult. They come to see you, this thing you love, that you talk about non-stop, and then they see you in vinyl grinding up on everyone, and then the breakup happens. Significant others outside the show all of a sudden “don’t get you,” get jealous, or freak out.

If the show doesn’t scare them off at first, our after parties might. Although I’m not allowed to say much about our after parties, I can say they uphold the theme of the film. Those that can successfully get their significant other to like the show and join it have a higher survival rate. Either that, or people who date outside of the show end up having to make the decision: the significant other or the show. Most people chose the show, but we have a few strays. I have found that the Rocky relationships usually end up in marriage. There are currently more than six married couples in our crew who met at the show. We also have a few divorces for those who stayed with their “outsider.”

Not only intimate relationships are troubled by the show, but living situations.

Most of the people at the show live with one another. The houses are filled with weirdos, and it’s beautiful. Recently, my boyfriend and I lived with someone who was not part of the show and it did not go smoothly. Others have had similar experiences. We’re a pretty incestuous crowd.

I feel like I’ve known some of these people all my life. I can immediately grope them inappropriately or start up a conversation instantly and feel relaxed.

While some may be confused, or even disgusted by the phenomenon of the cult following of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, at least my parents can say they knew where I was past 10 p.m. every Saturday night. The rest of the week is when they had to worry.

Photos courtesy of author, and Flickr user hyperion327

Meredith Wish Hi I'm Meredith. I specialize in copywriting and graphic design. Based in Boston; you'll catch me watching a game at Fenway, reviewing a film, or performing in Harvard Square. I love doing it all and I can never make up my mind. I like to consider myself a "Jill of all Trades." Twitter: @thoughtfulwish

View all posts by Meredith Wish

3 Responses to “Life at the Rocky Horror Picture Show”

  1. Eric

    Hey, really enjoyed the piece. I’ve never been to a Rocky show, but you make it sound so appealing; the idea of escaping from reality, etc. You really make it sound like an experience. One thing I’m wondering about, though, is when you talk about “outsiders” not getting the show: Since you say the cast is super close and made up of the kids who weren’t cool in school, etc., do you think, on some level, you guys may not want too many outsiders around? Like, would you prefer to keep the group more close-knit, rather than have outsiders around, even if they love the show? Thanks Meredith!

    • Meredith

      No we love outsiders (I mean we all started as one). When I say outsiders, I try to use it generically – basically anyone who does not understand / “accept” the show – though we love outsides we feel they might not love us back. But come check it out some time! see if you love it or hate it. Lately, the RHPS has been making it “mainstream.” The blu-ray dvd was released for the 35th anniversary, there was recently a nationwide convention and a porn made this past year, “The Rocki Whore Picture Show: A Hardcore Parody.”

      Many will agree you should go at least once in your life – it’s definitely an experience, and who knows, you might learn something about yourself.

  2. Tim

    As some one who has been part of a Rocky cast for over fifteen years I agree with much of what you have written. The show for me started off as a casual interest. Wanting to hang out with the cool kids who did things differently than most. The next thing you know you are spending the majority of your time talking about, or socializing with those who are part of the show.

    For some it’s a faze to try something outside social norm. They try it for a while and move on when the date someone outside the show or they finish college, and move home. A few years go by, and you are attending their weddings, their child’s first birthday, and sadly the funerals of their loved ones. Rocky became a life style for me when I started spending most of if any free time with those involved with the Show. Some of these people are closer to me then most of my extended who I have known now almost half my life.

    Thank you for writing an amazing article about a little niche of people!


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