Monday, December 6, 2010

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Queer Time and Place

I have seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) performed live about six times. I went just this last weekend with a bunch of my younger friends, many of whom were "Rocky Horror virgins." For people who go into a Rocky Horror screening without preparation, the environment can be shocking and even offensive. I have seen it at two different venues, but both of these places took on very similar auras. When inside a place that will be showing RHPS, one of the first things someone might notice is lots of scantily clad people. They will also see many people in... gender non-conforming clothing, such as men in glittery corsets. A friend of mine mentioned having to de-tag himself in facebook pictures after RHPS because he knew that his parents wouldn't understand why he was wearing a green dress over black sparkly lingerie.

While certainly not everyone who sees RHPS is queer by any means, the space these screenings are held in are basically assumed to be queer places, and the time spent there can definitely be described as queer time, I think. Characters in the film are of flexible sexualities and gender expressions, and because people seeing the film flock to it knowing this, the space created is queer-friendly by necessity. I've met people at RHPS who, when encountered in any other situation, are completely different people. The RHPS creates a space where people can laugh inappropriately at pretty much everything, where people can feel free to experiment with how they present themselves in a place where everything is met with acceptance and most likely encouragement.

RHPS is a very bad movie, but in a way that makes it more loveable, and the cult following that has grown up around the movie has created its own incredibly unique space for queering oneself. People who have never been to a Rocky Horror screening, or who is unfamiliar with the atmosphere surrounding the movie can't really understand why the movie has the following it does, but in the society we live in, the experience of Rocky Horror, of the ability to go to a movie theater and have an extremely funny and horribly inappropriate time, is a place where people can experiment and laugh and be themselves in ways they can't elsewhere.

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