Transvestites from Transylvania provided entertainment to Texas State students through music performance and shock therapy.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical film known for being unorthodox and pushing the limits of normality. It became known as a midnight movie in 1977 when audiences began acting out scenes along with it in theaters.
The Student Association for Campus Activities showed a free screening of the movie at the LBJ amphitheater Oct. 20. Some students of the 140 in attendance participated.
The movie is a tale of a newly engaged, straight-laced couple who arrive at the castle of transvestite Frank-N-Furter after a tire blow out. A party to unveil Frank’s latest creation for “absolute pleasure,” known as Rocky, is taking place when they arrive. The couple is thrown into a game of seduction, suspicion and mutilation during their stay with Frank in the bizarre castle.
The film was displayed on a projection screen, while a live cast acted out the scenes. Cast members were dispersed throughout the audience and interjected commentary through the show.
“It’s a hard R-show, not necessarily things in the movie, but the things we scream out,” said James Laljer, cast member who played Eddie and Dr. Scott.
Laljer has been going to the picture show for 28 years. Laljer met his wife, Joanna Stephens at a midnight showing of the film almost 25 years ago.
Laljer and Stephens got married at a midnight showing of the film. Stephens said the wedding was impromptu after the night’s performance, and she was nervous.
“She was so nervous the only thing she can remember is that her feet keep sticking to the floor,” Laljer said. “It was a $1 cinema and every time you walked you felt like you were walking on bubble wrap.”
The couple renewed their for their 15th anniversary at a film screening on Halloween when Laljer was playing Riff-Raff.
Laljer usually performs the act at Alamo Drafthouse in Austin every other weekend. He has played all the roles, including Janet. Stephens performed regularly before breaking her leg and is now the cast historian.
Stephens said their Austin cast is always open to perform the show in new places. She was surprised they hadn’t been asked to perform at Texas State before.
Thursday’s screening was the first time the show has been performed on campus. The split-cast was composed of Rocky Horror actors from Austin and one from Houston.
Prop bags with a rubber gloves, newspaper, party hats, glow-sticks, toilet paper, cards and condoms were sold to the audience to encourage participation.
Roman Peterson, SACA film coordinator, said he was pleased with the audience involvement. Peterson said although SACA doesn’t typically repeat many films, Rocky Horror may be shown again because of the audience reaction it creates.
“Rocky Horror virgins are pretty well shocked the first time they see it,” Laljer said.
Shaylah Hill, accounting freshman, said the audience participation was her favorite part because she thought it was funny. Hill said she was surprised by the nature of the show’s content and she probably won’t see another screening for a while.
“I thought it was going to be a scary movie,” Hill said. “I didn’t really realize that it was going to be inappropriate...”
Peterson said that everyone he talked to who had seen the film in the past were pleased with Thursday’s screening. He said he did talk to a few students who didn’t think this type of film was their “cup of tea,” but a lot of people who hadn’t seen it asked him to bring it to school again.
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into the first time I saw Rocky Horror,” Peterson said. “I was like, what the heck is going on here, but I was fascinated by it and started actually understanding what the story was.”
The cast conducted a pre-act where they warned the audience of the vulgarity and profanity expressed in the film. They taught the audience dance moves to the “Time Warp,” so everyone could dance along with that particular scene.
Peterson said planning and maintaining the show demanded a lot of hard work, but he was able to take a break to enjoy the show and dance along with the “Time Warp” scene.
Laljer said performing the same show never gets old because the audience interaction is always different. Stephenson has performed Rocky Horror up to seven times in one week.
“As the movie says, ‘Don’t dream it, be it’,” Laljer said. “Just be who you are, be proud of who you are and let yourself go about it.”