Rocky Horror Picture Show – How it “Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-a-Touched Me”
When I was about 16, I was at Blockbuster Video (Remember that place?) and I decided to rent a movie. Halloween was coming and I wanted a horror film. Without looking too closely, I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the “Staff Picks” shelf and said, “Oh, I’ve never seen this horror film”. So, I grabbed it and rented it without reading the back of the box (A mistake I often make when I am in a hurry that can also be my Achilles heel when reading directions). I went home, popped some popcorn and settled down to be properly frightened.
You all know my surprise.
I was not frightened, but so delighted that I had found a musical I didn’t know anything about. How was I to know at the innocent age of 16 (it was a different time then) that a movie musical existed that was equal parts provocative, funny, twisted and glorious satire. Susan Sarandon was in it (always a plus for me), Barry Bostwick (had no idea who the heck he was at the time), and TIM CURRY. I had watched Clue easily a million times and I thought he was the sharpest and most exciting actor I had ever seen. Of course Rocky Horror Picture Show hooked me immediately thanks to his mere presence.
It’s easy to fall in love with the film, equal parts classic James Whale horror classic, MGM musical, B-Movie science fiction and soft-core pornography that didn’t seem to be caught up in the trappings of traditional gender roles. The score by Richard O”Brien score was equal parts showtune and rock & roll, giving the piece an electrified feel. I had never heard “The Time Warp” before, but before I knew it, I was rewinding that VCR Tape (Be Kind-Rewind) so that I could dance and sing with the infectious ditty. Twenty or thirty times through, I decided I probably should give the neighbors a rest and watch the rest of the movie.
As the film went on, I grew more and more confused as the plot (what little there was) spiraled out of control. This is not a feeling that has dissipated over time as I generally find the story negligible, but plot is not the reason to fall in love with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The reason to love it is for its audacity, its lunacy, and for the fact that, in 1975, it just wasn’t afraid to go “there”. The music throughout is both tuneful and high-voltage. I’ve always held a special place in my heart for “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” because, well, it just sounds so sinfully dirty and seems sublime perfection in the musical.
The other reason to love The Rocky Horror Picture Show is that it is simply a celebration of individuality, our uniqueness (however debauched) that make us who we are. Some have fetishes, some like crazy clothes or big hair, some are just looking for liberation from their shyness, self-doubt or uptight ways. The Rocky Horror Picture Show just says “leave your inhibitions at the door” and that is why the movie “touch-a-touch-a-touch-a touches me.” Who doesn’t want the chance, even for a few minutes, to drop our social constructs and conservative mores about sex and just feel free?
Of course, there was a whole world of The Rocky Horror Picture Show ahead of me when I got to college and found out that people cross dress and go to screenings where they interact with the film. Maybe the cult following that this film has received has something to do with that “leave your inhibitions at the door” idea that I mentioned. I have never attended one of these screenings and not seen a room full of people having the time of their life, shedding their 9 to 5 apprehensions, and just throwing themselves with complete and utter abandon into the role-play and depravity of it all. It is a wonderful thing to witness and the reason why The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to touch so many lives in that special place where their bathing suit covers…oh, and in their hearts, of course.