Rocky Horror turns 40, still crazy after all these years.
Who doesn’t have fond memories of their first Rocky Horror Picture Show experience? Ok, mine are mixed since the first time I saw it was on an old black-and-white television with my father, avoiding eye contact and trying not to laugh too hard at the ribald bits. It wasn’t until I finally saw it on the big screen in the company of peers -- armed with rice, noisemakers, and snarky quips -- that the full potential of its subversive pleasures revealed themselves more fully.
Part of the fun of repeated viewings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show is emulating the character you most want to be, and for a curly-haired, goth-inclined teenager, the clear choice was Magenta, whose stone-faced cool and extraterrestrial sensuality were so beyond the straitjacket of smalltown teenhood, that to walk an evening in her spike-heeled shoes was akin to a declaration of, well, something. Call it freedom. Peaches Christ does.
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show was my 'It Gets Better’ video,' she told the cheering oddience assembled at the Victoria Theatre for the 40th anniversary of the original Rocky Horror Show, the slapstick, Ed-Wood-meets-Charles-Ludlam Rock Musical that, two years later, became a film destined to be the best known midnight movie of all time.
Deviating from the tried-and-true Midnight Mass formula of movie screenings, this Rocky Horror birthday bash took the form of a tribute concert at a respectable 8pm, with multiple singers cast in the iconic roles of the universes’ best-beloved Transylvanians, live music provided by the Whoa Nellies, and quick-and-dirty narration by Peaches Christ herself, synopsizing the negligee-thin plotline that happens between all of those undeniably catchy songs: “The Time Warp,” “Touch-a Touch-a-Touch Me,” and “Hot Patootie, Bless my Soul”. Channeling her inner Tim Curry, PC also provided the vox and corseted eye candy on “Sweet Transvestite” slyly replacing her planet of origins, “Transsexual, Transylvania,” with “San Francisco, California”.
But by far the highlight was the moment that the original Magenta -- Patricia Quinn -- stepped onstage in a sleek leather suit and handfuls of glitter, to sing the opening song she’d been cheated out of 38 years ago when Richard O’Brien took it over for the movie version, accompanied by a visual of her bright red "stunt lips." My still-practically-teenaged heart be still. Quinn’s still got. It. That elusive, effusive cool. As does the whole freaking musical, which, stripped of the mostly laughable dialogue and B-Movie special effects, really rocks. Not bad for a 40-year-old who regularly stays up until 3am and can’t ever seem to remember to wear pants. Oh, Rocky!
Lest a single inch of stage space go wasted, almost every role was played by a minimum of two performers, including Dr. Frank-N-Furter portrayed mainly by seasoned Rocky Horror vet Jef Valentine, with a counter-point appearance by former X Factor contestant, Jason Brock, who sang a soulful “I’m Going Home” to an interstellar techno backing track provided by Marc Kate aka Never Knows. Exceptions were Musical Director Peter Fogel who pulled double duty as the titular boy toy and the imitable Leigh Crow as Eddie, ‘cause there can only be one Eddie, and really, that Eddie can only be Leigh Crow. And now that such a stellar lineup is already in place, here’s hoping Peaches will do a 40-year bash for the film version, too, come 2015. Don’t dream it, darlings. Be it!