The Rocky Horror Picture Show started as a flop, but thanks to a clever fan base the 1975 musical send-up of old science-fiction and horror films now stands as the longest running theatrical release in film history.
That's right, the story of Dr. Frank-N-Furter is in the history books.
This year marks the movie's 40th anniversary, with lots of showing options this weekend including an outdoor party at Jannus Live and live actors at Tampa Pitcher Show shadowing the movie action and leading raunchy talk-backs (though the 9 p.m. show promises to be more PG-13 level).
The movie marked an early career turn for Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf, and turned into the flick that could never die. In the story, a flat tire strands newly engaged couple Brad and Janet at Frank-N-Furter's castle, where they get stuck doing lots of things they otherwise wouldn't.
Since two generations of teenagers have come and gone since Rocky Horror came out, we figured this is a good chance to clue in the newbies, who are called "virgins" and usually get called out before screenings and "sacrificed".
The catchy, campy musical will be all over cable this weekend for Halloween, but it's the in-person experience that defines Rocky Horror.
William "Cash" Cashman, 41, director of the theater troupe Cheap Little Punks, has been acting in Rocky Horror shadow casts for more 20 years in the Tampa Bay area. He saw it when he was just 10 years old when his sister, then an actor herself in a shadow cast, sneaked him into a screening at Tampa's University Mall back in the mid-1980s.
The Cheap Little Punks perform six shows a month at late night screenings at Tampa movie theaters. There are 10 main actors during a screening, Cashman said, and six to eight "Trannies," or citizens of Transylvania, moving between the audience and the stage keeping the energy up.
Back in the day there was toast flying in the air, rice thrown during a wedding scene and lighters aflame during the song Over at the Frankenstein Place. But these days most venues would rather not deal with cleaning up piles of rice or toast, and the fire department forbids open flames in a theater.
Cashman has noticed the lines the audience shouts (many unprintable) are slow to change, though a big part of keeping the show fresh is creating new lines with topical humor. Cashman's advice: "Come with an open mind and have fun. Because that's what the Rocky Horror story is all about, being open minded and accepting."
5 THINGS TO DO
Buy tickets in advance: It's general seating at the movie theaters, and some will sell out for Halloween weekend. So buy tickets in advance and consider arriving a little early to get a good seat.
See the movie beforehand: You will hardly be able to hear the dialogue over all the noise.
Listen to the soundtrack: Being able to sing along makes it easier to feel like a part of the crowd.
Learn the 'Time Warp' dance: It's just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. The audience leaps to its feet and turns into a flash mob when Time Warp beings, and it helps if you know what comes next.
Leave these at home: Before we get into what to bring, here's what NOT to bring (and be prepared for a bag check): squirt guns, rice, toast, hot dogs, lighters or candles. Some theaters allow toilet paper throwing, but it's often frowned on. Consider leaving all props at home since most theaters sell prop bags at the door for only a few dollars.
5 THINGS TO BRING
Newspapers: When Brad and Janet are caught in the storm, Janet covers her head with a newspaper. At this point, the audience does likewise.
Rubber gloves: During his speech after creating the monster Rocky Horror, mad scientist Frank snaps his rubber gloves three times. The audience snaps gloves in sync, creating a great sound effect.
Playing cards: They're one of the few things audiences are still allowed to throw around. During the song I'm Going Home, Frank sings "Cards for sorrow, cards for pain." At this point you should shower the theater with cards.
Flashlights: During the verse, "There's a light" during Over at the Frankenstein Place, audiences used to light candles or flick on a lighter, but flashlights, glow sticks or a lighter app on your cell phone will do the trick.
Noisemakers, a party hat: For select scenes. You can find a packing list online for more props.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SharonKWn