Quite a long time ago, when Gerald Ford was president and a few bucks filled your tank, America first met the transvestites from the planet Transexual in the galaxy Transylvania.
They were in a movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as the stage play on which it was based, and this movie spawned a midnight subculture - built largely on garters and flying rice - that simply refuses to go away.
Meanwhile, the folks at Island Community Theatre were trying to draw in a new demographic. And they decided to give Rocky a try. They had auditions Monday night in a butter-colored classroom in a real estate office. The auditioners included a corporate trainer, a process engineer for a window manufacturer, a licensed hearing-aid specialist and a Harley-riding computer consultant. They were all very brave.
The director, Elaine Cloud Goller, warned them that the show was about sexual awakening. Everyone sings, she said, everyone dances and everyone takes off their clothes.
"If you're 15 years old," she said, "you need to let me know, because I would not be comfortable auditioning you."
First up was an older gentleman in a tan sport jacket. He sang a competent rendition of Happy Birthday. Then a young woman with glasses did a passable Andrew Lloyd Webber number, and third was an actor named Margee Murray.
She strolled to the front in a short black cocktail dress with a white floral print. Her dark hair fell past her shoulders. Her voice shook the room like cannon fire.
She sang a blush-inducing song from A Chorus Line. Here are some of the tamer lyrics:
"Bought myself a fancy pair/Tightened up the derriere."
When she finished, they all applauded.
But the director was suspicious. As Murray walked by, Goller stopped her with a soft touch on the arm.
"Margee," she said, "how old are you?"
"I'm going to be 18 on Sunday," Murray said.
"Oh," Goller said. "Thank God."
Thomas Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 992-8665.
If you go
The Rocky Horror Show runs Oct. 4-14 at the Catherine Hickman Theatre in Gulfport. For tickets, call (727) 345-1474.