THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW should be out of gas by now.
Hell, it should have sputtered out years ago, sucked into the void with the entire “midnight movie” phenomenon. People don’t want to sit in a darkened theater with a bunch of strangers anymore. These days, people want their movies served the way they like their television: at home, doors locked, pants off and a little drunk. I can’t entirely fault people for their newfound love of worldly isolation, but there’s a spark to seeing a movie with an audience that you just can’t get any other way. Like it or not, but theaters are still the best way to see a movie.
Nobody should be as tired of the ROCKY HORROR experience as the movie’s cast, who have alternately rebelled and embraced the film during the almost-40 years since its ill-fated debut. Cast members Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn and Little Nell were scheduled to attend a screening of the film at the MAD MONSTER PARTY convention in Charlotte, N.C., this past weekend. What I anticipated was a quick introduction by the cast before the lights dimmed, allowing them to sneak back to their hotel rooms. THAT TYPE, a Charlotte-area ROCKY HORROR “shadowcast” was slated to perform and, after the anemic attendance of some of the convention’s other activities, I had concerns that the audience would be a quiet one.
None of those things turned out to be true. The place was packed to the gills, with the original cast appearing to have more fun than anyone.
The audience participation aspect of ROCKY HORROR has always been the most difficult element to control. A shadowcast can have the best props, best lines, ample rehearsal time and an infinite amount of enthusiasm, and it wouldn’t matter if you have a bunch of zombies in the audience. For the magic trick to work, the audience AND the cast need to be engaged, but you can never tell who’s going to show up to any given screening.
And the audience for the MAD MONSTER PARTY event was total chaos. These were people from all over the region, and were likely accustomed to “lines” and interactions unique to their favorite venues. Consequently, Saturday night's show was a bit of a madhouse (in a good way.) This is one of the rare cases, though, where the audience's response didn’t matter much. All that mattered were the responses from Barry, Patricia and Nell. And they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic.
All three spontaneously joined the cast on stage several times during the show. Nell and Patricia did the Time Warp, with the former pulling off the tap dancing segment effortlessly. And Bostwick joined the cast on stage during the floor show, providing me with the opportunity to get perhaps the best photo I’ll ever take (see top.)
My favorite moment probably went unnoticed by almost everybody there. Sitting with her castmates in the front row, Little Nell took out her phone and started taking photos of the performance. I doubt many of the guests at MAD MONSTER PARTY took photos for themselves during the event, but Nell was clearly impressed by what she saw. It was sweet.
The cast stuck around for a few minutes, valiantly ignoring handlers who were trying to rescue them from the throng of fans. They posed for photos with the cast of THAT TYPE, signed autographs and humbly fielded brief anecdotes from fans about how the movie changed their lives (stories I’m sure they’ve heard hundreds of times before.) Hyperbole aside, it was an incredible night. If I’d only had the good sense to have worn a costume …
THAT TYPE performs the first and third Friday of every month at Cinebarre, located at 8008 Providence Rd, Charlotte, NC 28277. Click HERE for more photos from last weekend's event.