My Magenta costume looked almost too good, I realized, when I arrived at the Onyx Theater’s Halloween edition of the Rocky Horror Picture Show live cast event. Only a few scattered couples came dressed in their Rocky-wear: a few Time Warpers, a Brad (“Asshole!”), a bathrobed Brad (“Asshole!”) and Janet (“Slut!”) and a whole lot of completely unrelated Halloween costumes. Those who’ve never been to a live cast performance of the cult classic midnight movie—in which live, costumed actors eek out passable mimicry of what’s going on in the film—wear a large red V on their foreheads for virgin. They are summarily gathered up and subjected to the pre-show embarrassments that awaited us all our first time. Luckily, this is my second show.
Just feet in front of the large movie screen, the live cast mouths the words along with the movie, pantomiming the actions while the audience peanut gallery whip themselves into a frenzy by shouting back retorts and spoilers. Each time they see Brad (“Asshole!”) or Janet (“Slut!”) they scream at them and enjoy it thoroughly. The movie’s narrator, a stodgy, buttoned up criminologist in a cravat, is heckled mercilessly for appearing to have no neck; the crowd howls like Jack Russell Terriers when the maid Magenta sings; and all appearances of Tim Curry’s sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, are met with cheers, singing and plenty of sass.
“Snap that rubber glove and scare the shit out of yourself!” the crowd shouts just before Curry loudly removes his surgical glove and squeals like a stuck pig. “Bite your knuckle and go talk to a big red door!” they scold just before he performs these very actions. “Elbow sex! Elbow sex!” they chant as brother and sister duo Magenta and Riff Raff do their modified high-five.
It’s not just words that are hurled, either. At the very mention of there being a light in the distance after Bra—you know who’s– car breaks down, the characters, along with the entirety of the cast and audience, wave glow sticks and don newspapers over their heads to fend off the rain, or in this case, the cast member who is a crack shot with the spray bottle. “Card for sorrow, cards for pain,” the Dr. says wistfully as his plot unravels and we toss playing cards in the air. Rice and toast are traditional props put to good use at theaters willing to let the audience throw food around.
It’s definitely a fun Saturday night out, cheap and a great alternative to clubbing. But the audience tension reaches its apex early on as Dr. Frank-N-Furter makes his first appearance and struts his stiletto’d stuff, and as the novelty quickly gives way to an actual feature-length film, the shouting just becomes tedious. Perhaps out of boredom I started watching the film as simply a film, no longer hurling insults or props at anyone, no longer bothering to get up and dance the Time Warp.
Sitting next to Michele, a friend who proudly took her seat when the emcee invited all those who have seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show performed live over 100 times to sit down, I decided, well, I’m just not ready to go quite that far. But I think I’d actually like to see another performance by another Vegas troupe before I pack away Magenta for good, for comparison’s sake. Perhaps one where they don’t incorporate South Park’s “What Would Brian Boitano Do” or Harry Belafonte’s “Jump In the Line” from Betelgeuse, neither of which are in the film. I’d love to hear the reading of the rules once more and the watch the catatonic usherette strip down to her tassels while we shout “Fuck the back row!” And I’d definitely like to see another cast take a whack at the riotous partner swapping sex scene, though no one could have more bravely worn his corset, thigh-highs and banana hammock than the Divine Decadence cast’s beanpole-perfect Brad. “Asshole!”