“Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which first premiered on the big screen in 1975, is a movie with a simple plot: Freshly engaged and clean-cut kids Brad Majors and Janet Weiss have some car trouble on the way to visit an old mentor and seek help at a house down the road.
After reading this description, one would never guess that the film would take a turn into a “scandalized sex and alien-infused world,” as local Rocky Horror New Mexico cast member Lily Hawley puts it. But that’s exactly what it does.
Rocky Horror New Mexico (RHNM) is one of the largest active groups in New Mexico and performs the show monthly. The cast rehearses every Tuesday and strives to be as screen accurate as possible, said Dustin Martinez, director and actor of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“It’s about trying to bring that stage show out more, not that everything is perfectly screen accurate because some things you’re not going to be able to get,” he said. “For instance, Columbia’s corset is screen accurate; it’s made by a guy in New York. He was working with some of the cast, had it custom made and was selling it. $50 a yard? Why not.”
RHNM has a consistent casting of main characters, but holds regular auditions for chorus dancers, Martinez said.
Many of the cast members joined the group after seeing a performance. One of these is Hawley, who auditioned three days after seeing her first live show.
“I first saw it at Albuquerque Comic Expo last year. The characters had so much fun and they were there and real and people identified with them so much that as soon as it was over, I was really sad. Then I realized it was never going to be over for me again. I had to do this,” she said.
The stage show-turned-movie-turned-shadow cast is still revered almost 40 years later. The following is large and vivid enough to be considered an ever-growing cult.
Written in 1973, by Richard O’Brien for the stage, it went from having a mediocre review in England to playing in theatres across the USA. Scandalous and revolutionary for its time, the Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) crossed lines with every scene, according to rockyhorror.com.
“When Richard O’Brien first decided he was going to do Rocky Horror, it was because he got spurned on ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and was like ‘Well I’m going to make my own thing,’” Hawley said. “Then he did. Who even knows about “Jesus Christ Superstar” anymore? But everybody knows Rocky.”
RHPS is performed by local and international fan groups, either as a full stage show or a shadow cast, where actors perform the show in front of a movie projected onto a screen, according to the website.
“It was just so dangerous with all the sex and, even though nothing is ever shown on the screen, it’s all shadow play, people were scandalized and people are still scandalized,” Hawley said. “It’s broken the boundaries of what was good music and what was a good movie. It’s a terrible movie! But it’s the best movie.”
To self-described fanatics like Hawley, it’s not so much about a love of the movie because, in all honesty, it really is a terrible movie. It’s about a love of what the movie means.
Tina Glick, UNM graduate and one of RHNM’s chorus dancers, who are affectionately called the Translyvanians, said she feels RHNM helps the community work toward an overall feeling of acceptance.
“My time with Rocky has been in conjunction with a greater acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage and I would like to think we were responsible for helping teach the community about freedom of thought and expression through who we love,” she said.
Glick’s fiancé Mark Balistreri proposed to her at one of RHNM’s pre-shows.
“He was the one who took me to my first Rocky show, and the night we officially started dating was his first show with RHNM,” she said. “But as far as the proposal went, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was perfect. I had my Rocky family, several of our close friends came, and it was great.”
Overall, RHPS is about accepting one’s self and others for who they are, Glick said.
“It seems like we have brand new people all the time, we have virgins (people who have never seen the film before) who are always constantly coming in,” Martinez said. “We’ll pick up a couple people who will understand or who will pick up on the ‘Don’t Dream It, Be It’ saying which is really the whole idea of being able to come into a place where you are going to be accepted.”
Upcoming RHPS Performances
Friday and Saturday – 9 p.m.
$15-$20 by RHNM
at the Aux Dog Theatre
Nov. 16. – 11 p.m.
One can of nonperishable food for donation at New Mexico Tech