By: Samantha Salomon and Paul Harding
On a cold and quiet Saturday evening in Ronkonkoma, a group of actors adorned in spandex and high heels turned an otherwise unassuming house into a bedlam of rock n’ roll.
The plot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show can be hard to explain, even by someone who has seen the movie dozens of times. “It is the story of, uh, a young American couple whose car breaks down outside of a castle and they…hold on,” Larry Viezel, a long-time fan who runs the social media of www.rockyhorror.com and www.rockyhorror.org, struggled to explain. “It’s, it’s that old classic tale of a young American couple whose car breaks down outside of a castle and they need to use a phone owned by a sex addicted mad scientist who creates a man for his sexual pleasure. You know, that old tale. Classic, classic cinema horror.”
On the evening of Oct. 20th, FOX aired a remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show entitled The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again. The program was publicly bashed by both critics and fans alike. When asked if this remake should have been produced at all, Jesse Green, theater critic for New York Magazine replied, “not on FOX.”
Viezel watched the FOX remake and actually enjoyed it.
“Clearly it was made with love, clearly there were limitations to what they could get away with,” Viezel said. “I hope there will be a new generation of fans that are inspired by this movie to come to a midnight showing at some point.”
The actors and self-professed Rocky Horror fans of The Zen Room, part of Long Island’s Zen Productions, performs a shadow cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Although their production takes place Halloween weekend, The Zen Room hits the stage each month to put on a show for their fellow Rocky community.
“[Being in The Rocky Horror community] basically means all in all you’re in a whole other group of people that are about as weird as they can get, and there really is no such thing as too weird,” Bailey C., an actor from The Zen Room, said. “In terms of things like gender expression, gender identity, sexuality, just kind of thinking in ways that people wouldn’t ‘normally’ think. You basically can really learn what you’re all about yourself and what other people are all about.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show community bonds over their unique differences that bring them together. “One thing I guess has to do with basic sociology, is the concept of co-presence, of you know being around people who maybe are not exactly like minded but who have a common appreciation of what they’re seeing,” Michael A. Katovich, Sociology Professor at Texas Christian University and author of a paper on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, said. “Even in the age of high-tech, where we can avoid a lot of co-presence, we still need that sense of being connected.”
“There’s many different levels [of The RHPS community],” Viezel said. “I think it’s the story that hooks people. Number two is the music…and then the thing that keeps people going forever is the community.”
The Rocky Horror community lives on because of the fan base that’s already built around it. “It’s just, it’s great. Cause it’s like, how often are you going to find a horror, comedy, sci-fi, musical about transvestite aliens?” Renee Shubert, ensemble and crew of The Zen Room, said.
Along with the campy and audacious nature of the film itself, its overarching message which declares, “Don’t dream it, be it,” really hits home, Kristin Hutchins, an actor from The Zen Room, said. It’s what makes the film endearing to generations of fans and keeps its community together under a banner of inclusivity.
The Zen Room will be performing the cult classic on Saturday, Oct. 29th at the Patchogue Theater for Performing arts in Patchogue, NY.