Attending the RHPS
What should I take to a showing of RHPS?
Yourself. Plenty of friends (optional). Your ID (just in case, though most theaters do not enforce the "R" rating. Also useful if the theater has a bar.) A sense of humour and an expectation of fun (required).
Many people, largely perceived to be virgins, have taken it upon themselves to bring weird items, such as shaving cream, spaghetti, rocks, Toyota Tercels, etc. While this may be allowed by the theatre, it will unfailingly cause the majority of the crowd to consider the perpetrator (rightly) an idiot. Thinking of a new prop to use is fine; throwing something just for the sake of throwing something is stupid, possibly dangerous and could get the show shut down.
Here is a semi-complete listing of the more popular items. Please ask at your show; items which are perfectly OK at some shows (like lighters, water pistols or even rice) are banned at others.
- Newspaper (preferably The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
- Water Guns
- Lighter/Flashlight (NOTE: lighters are banned at most theaters because of fire codes)
- Noise Makers
- Rubber Gloves
- Confetti (or torn-up newspaper) <==discouraged at some shows (it sticks to the floor when wet)
- Toilet Paper (preferably Scott brand)
- Bells (or keys)
- Playing Cards
- Condoms...hey, you never know.
There are others, but this should get you started. It's up to you to figure out when to use these. There's a general rule most people seem to follow: "If you are hit in the face with rice, then now must be the time to throw rice!" Unfortunately, this rule isn't foolproof, as some immature idiots seem to get off from throwing anything, any time.
Remember, whatever you brought to throw, DO NOT throw it at the screen. Many Rocky theaters have stopped showing the movie forever because some idiot damaged the screen. (Members of the cast will probably appreciate it if you don't throw items at them, either.) As many casts say during the pre-show, "If you're sitting in front, throw back. If you're sitting in back, throw forward. If you're sitting in the middle, throw up!" (Not literally...most theaters take a dim view of that, too.)
What should I not take to a showing of RHPS?
Leave any weapons at home (knives, guns, nuclear missiles...). Most theaters don't allow alcohol or drugs, either...if you're going to indulge, do it before or after so the cast isn't put in a legal bind.
Some casts actually search audience members for contraband before the show. While this is regrettable, it does tend to keep weapons, alcohol, and hot dogs out of the theater.
What should I wear to a showing of RHPS?
As little as possible (keep it legal, please). Well, lots of black is usually good. As is lingerie. As are fishnets. And too much makeup (especially if you are a guy). Basically, the weirder the better. You'll feel strange leaving the house (or office), but once you get to the theatre, you should fit right in. Extra bonus points are awarded for dressing as a character in the film; this is less common than it used to be and at some theaters makes you eligible for a prize or reduced admission. Or at least people exclaiming over how cool you look.
This section is, of course, for the people who are part-timers. Most veteran Rocky-goers usually dress however they want at the show without looking to the Internet for guidance.
What should I expect at a showing of RHPS?
Expect the unexpected. Okay, that was a predictable answer. Sorry.
Expect possibly to get your clothes wet. Expect possibly to get hit on. Expect possibly to see nudity (or something close to it). Expect possibly to be somewhat offended. Don't be upset if not all of this happens, though - I make no guarantees.
For the most part, expect that you'll have a good time. Sure, there's raunchiness, lame jokes, and bad singing and dancing, but that's part of the fun. And while you might not like the person breathing heavily on you, for the most part, Rocky-goers respect each other, and won't overstep any limits you set, particularly as our culture has gotten more and more sue-happy. You might have issues if those limits are ridiculously prudish, in which case you should re-evaluate whether you should be at RHPS in the first place.
Oh, you wanted specifics? The regulars/cast will probably have some sort of welcome/introduction to the film. If there is a cast, there will be people running around in front of the movie, hopefully in costume. Presumably doing stuff sort of similar to what's going on on-screen with some sight gags thrown in. People will be shouting and throwing clever/stupid/rude things. If you can't hear the dialogue over the audience, that's normal. Complaining about it is considered a sign of cluelessness and/or old age. Go ahead, get up and Time Warp. You know you want to.
If you're going back to see the show after staying away for several years, don't expect things to be like they were "back in the old days." Rocky Horror is an evolving phenomenon. That's why it's still going after all these years.
What's with this Audience Participation thing?
It's a main part of RHPS. The audience "calls-back" lines to the screen. These are often called "call-backs" or "lines." Also, in various parts of the movie, the audience members throw things all over the place and make a big mess. Lots o' fun. For more on this, see the What should I take? subsection.
What's a virgin?
A virgin is someone who has never seen RHPS before in the theatre. Watching it on video or TV doesn't count; that's just masturbation. It may be fun, and it may get you off, but it's not a substitute for the real thing.
Should I worry that I'll be embarrassed if I'm a virgin?
Most places have something called a "virgin sacrifice." The sacrifice can be something as tame as singing to the virgins to something as raunchy as... well, let your mind wander. The majority of them are just in good fun and aren't out to really hurt anyone. The cast wants you to return again and again - they're not going to piss you off so that you never go back. You can try to hide, but if anyone at all in the theatre knows you, they will betray you. Count on it. Don't worry about it and let them have their fun. Just close your eyes and think of England.
A "beginner's guide" of sorts for virgins is available at http://www.rockyhorror.com/participation/virgins.php
Should I worry that I don't know many of the call-backs?
No. This is a major misconception about RHPS. Nobody is going to think any less of you if you just sit back and have a good time. Before you know it, you'll know more than you ever really wanted to. Many of the lines are based on the news of the day, and are constantly changing anyway. Just relax and enjoy yourself (or the people around you, if all parties involved are in agreement on this). If you want a freebie, Brad is the asshole and Janet's the slut. Feel better?
Should I locate an audience participation script and memorize it?
A resounding NO!
You could, but you'd be really pathetic if you did. Just go and listen. Most people start picking up on a lot of them by their third show, and they start making their own up a few shows later. The scripts are made so that the veterans can exchange lines from different cities and to find out who says what, etc. Most of the more popular scripts in circulation are pretty pathetic anyway. If you feel you absolutely must have a script, you can get one here.
What should I do before the movie?
Get a bit of sleep. Drink a bit of coffee. Take a bit of drugs (optional). Dress in a bit of lingerie. Collect a bit of props. Review a bit of call-backs. Not necessarily in that order.
What should I do during the movie?
Have fun. What you do is up to you. You can sit back and enjoy the spectacle, you can be active and a part of the spectacle, or whatever else you want to do (as long as you don't get caught).
What should I do after the movie?
Drink a bit of coffee. Take a bit of drugs (optional). Take off a bit of lingerie. ...etc. If someone else is involved in taking off your lingerie, and things go further from there, USE A CONDOM.
Many casts have cast parties, especially after "special" shows (i.e. Hallowe'en, end-of-term, etc.), and they usually don't mind adoring slobbering fans tagging along. Expect to find anything and everything you could possibly imagine to please you at these parties.
Most people, though, can't afford to party like this after every show (financially, physically, and/or psychologically), so they usually take a trip to your friendly 24-hour dining establishments (Denny's, Big Boy, truck stops, etc.). If you need something to do while at one of these fine restaurants, might I suggest "1001 Ways to get Kicked Out of a 24-Hour Diner". Don't forget to tip.
Can I bring my little kids to the movie? It's all G-rated fun, right?
That depends. Some fans have kids and start dragging them to the show before they're old enough to walk. This leads to adorable photo opportunities and the possibility of large therapy bills in later life.
If you don't mind having your kid in a movie theater at midnight surrounded by half-dressed people shouting obscenities and pretending to be sex-crazed aliens, go for it! But keep in mind that while Rocky Horror might not be rated "R" if it were released today, most Rocky Horror audiences definitely would be. Susan Sarandon herself said when she went to a showing in 1998 that it was like an audience "full of [people with] Tourette's Syndrome." And who are we to disagree?
Are all the shows as good as the one I just saw?
Unfortunately, no. Every theatre is different, every cast within the theatres is different, and every show - even of the same cast - is different. And, because of this, not all shows are always up to par. Not all casts even agree on what makes a good show! However, if you like a show, tell everybody. Tell the cast members what you liked about it so that they can do more of it in the future. Tell the theatre managers that you enjoyed the show so that they treat the casts better, which then encourages better shows. Tell your friend and acquaintances so that they get a better audience turnout, which will lead to better shows. The quality of RHPS shows greatly depends on the audience members, so you should do what you can to help.
Are all the shows as bad as the one I just saw?
Fortunately, no. As noted in the previous answer, everywhere is different. Sometimes casts can be too offensive or annoying. If this is the case, perhaps you should address this issue with the cast members - whatever you do, don't complain to the theatres. Theatre managers are generally very nervous about RHPS, and will shut down a show without thinking twice (or once, for that matter). If a cast is generally a good one, its members will listen to your concerns and, hopefully, work to remedy the problem.
However, sometimes casts are just plain obnoxious. These casts are usually on their way out, anyway. Don't let the performance of an obnoxious cast deter your appreciation for RHPS. Try a different theatre.
If your problem with the cast was its acting, well... not everyone out there is a thespian. The most important thing a cast can do is have fun and make sure that the audience has fun as well. While good acting is definitely a plus, if you were severely distracted by especially bad acting, the problem most likely was with the cast's attitude towards the show. Again, talk to them. Maybe you were there on a bad night. Maybe there were outside variables that the cast couldn't help. By all means, give the show a second chance.