I remember first seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Nuart Theatre as a 12-year-old with a group of friends and a horrified parental chaperone. We were in the seventh grade, and it was the first and last time I saw several girls from my middle school wearing fishnets and garters. At the time, I was terrified by the spectacle, and the sole indelible image from the evening that I shudder to recall involved an on-stage simulated sex act for “virgins” to the Rocky Horror experience. Also, I kinda remember getting hit in the head with a flying tortilla.
Time certainly had dulled the trauma/drama of that fateful evening, until Monday night’s 30th anniversary Rocky Horror extravaganza at the Hollywood Bowl reopened old wounds thought to be expertly cauterized by 10 years of non-audience participation movie going.
I took my girlfriend to the show, and as a virgin to the Rocky Horror experience, I don’t think she knew what she was getting into until we entered the Bowl’s parking lot. There, she pointed out a diminutive man wearing only his undergarments, and asked me why other patrons clutched bags of rice and tortillas. Suddenly our Brie and Chablis picnic seemed out of place.
The glam/garage band Louis XIV opened the night to a seemingly disinterested Bowl. As the evening’s mistress of ceremonies, former Go-Go and expert investor Jane Wiedlin added guest vocals to the band’s semi-hit song, “Finding Out True Love Is Blind.”
Wiedlin then took over emcee duties, bantering throughout the endless Rocky Horror costume parade, which sucked the life out of me.
The audience was mostly filled with 12-13 year-olds and 46-47 year-olds, both segments dressed up as various characters from the flick. Before the film could begin, the obligatory de-virgnization took place. My girlfriend clung to me, begging to protect her from Wiedlin, should she be chosen for the ceremony. Eventually, two couples were chosen for the ritual – the two men were forced to bob for cherry lifesavers hidden in creampies expertly placed between their missus’ legs.
As the film started, chants from hardcore fan groups began, along with the throwing of rice. Picking rice out of our hair, my girlfriend and I discussed how many direct hits we were willing to take from grain-based projectiles. Then came the water during the movie’s rain sequence. When the costumed denizens began brandishing tortillas, we decided to leave.
This was a very exhilarating experience (like escaping a grizzly bear attack). I know I sound like a prude – and I’m not – but I do realize that in many ways I am still a terrified seventh grader.