A night of drag and decadence

Transvestites, virgins gather downtown for bawdy musical

By Meghan Cain

His silver, size 12 heels reflected the pink lights outside the Kentucky Theatre, and his gold, skin-tight hot pants served as his only shield from the cold.

Nick Sims, a student at West Jessamine County High School, waited in anticipation for his first experience with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” A black “V” marked his forehead to indicate him as a “virgin,” a status given to those who have never experienced a Rocky Horror midnight screening.

“I heard about it from friends,” Sims said. “I have been looking forward to this for months now.”

Sims joined about 400 other scantily clad Rocky Horror-lovers Friday, waiting in a line that stretched from the doors of the Kentucky Theatre on East Main Street past Martin Luther King Boulevard, just to see Rocky, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Riff Raff, Columbia, Magenta, Brad and Janet on the big screen.

The Kentucky Theatre has continued to screen “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” — now considered one of the greatest cult films of all time — at midnight showings several times a year since the 1970s, said Fred Mills, manager of the theatre. The Halloween showing is the busiest of the year and always sells out, he said.

“I think it’s because this time of year, every one wants to dress up,” Mills said.

For the other Rocky Horror-virgins out there, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a musical comedy about a seemingly innocent couple who get lost on a rainy evening and enter a creepy castle for help. Once inside, they are swept away by the promiscuity of the transvestites from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.

Throughout the midnight showings of the movie, which occur across the country, a Rocky Horror cast acts out the film on stage, mouthing the lines and encouraging the audience to participate.

This year, Mills decided he didn’t want to keep turning people away who wanted to experience The Rocky Horror Picture Show Masquerade Ball — the name of the Halloween screening — so his staff decided to extend the showing to two nights.

“It is the first time for all of us to perform two nights in a row,” said Aaron Moreland, who plays Janet in the re-enactment of the film. “We are already tired after one night.”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is not just about watching the movie, Mills said, it’s about the entire experience. The audience members’ costumes are one aspect of the film’s culture that sets it apart from any other movie in a theater. Besides Rocky Horror characters, people this year were dressed as anything from Minnie Mouse to the typical street prostitute.

“I love it,” said biology sophomore Hannah Chism, who has been attending screenings for two years. “It is one of the only nights you can dress like a whore. It is abnormal to dress normal.”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” viewing at the Kentucky Theatre is also very interactive, Mills said.

To start the night off right, Rocky Horror “virgins” were asked to stand and recite an allegiance to the giant luscious lips that appear to sing the opening song of the movie. After the “virgins” were “deflowered,” the audience began to chant and countdown by spelling out “Rocky” and playing kazoos until the curtain rolled back from the screen.

Before the show began, bags of “goodies” were sold for one dollar. The plastic bags contained a piece of toast, some rice, a roll of toilet paper, a newspaper, a playing card and a plastic glove — all props in the movie so audience members could participate in the on-screen action, like throwing rice after a wedding scene.

“I like to throw the toast and the rice the most,” Chism said. “Blowing up the (plastic) glove and hitting it around is fun too. Sometimes people get into rice and toast fights.”

Alex Joefreda, a student at Henry Clay High School, said her favorite part about the show is hurling objects throughout the evening.

“My favorite part is throwing the toilet paper,” Joefreda said. “Last year someone threw a roll of toilet paper and 20 minutes later, we were still throwing it.”

Mills said he thought Rocky Horror has stayed so popular at the Kentucky Theatre for so many years because of the tradition behind it.

“Friends tell friends about it, and it is passed down from generation to generation,” Mills said. “Every year there are parents who bring their teenagers to come see the show.”

Chism agreed with Mills.

“People pass it on,” Chism said. “I first heard about it from my friend in high school. I don’t know if I would take my kids to go see it, though.”

After the show Friday night, Sims was an all-grown-up, no-longer-a-virgin part of the Rocky Horror family.

“It was fun. It was awesome,” Sims said. “I listened to everyone around me yell stuff at the screen, and I was able to interact. I am coming back tomorrow night.”