When people say they’re going to see the Rocky Horror Picture show, they’re not just going to sit down with a bucket of popcorn to watch a movie.
This Saturday, actors will perform the cult classic film at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre. However, this showing, put on by Big Purple Onion Productions — San Luis Obispo’s Rocky Horror Picture Show actors brigade — includes a live acting squad that acts out the film.
And the experience isn’t complete without audience participation. This means over-the-top costumes, cues to yell things like “Slut!” and “Great Scott!” and dances such as the hip-thrusting “Time Warp.”
The 1975 film, which falls somewhere between the lines of parody, science fiction, comedy and musical, was actually a bust when it was first released, said Kevin Harris, San Luis Obispo Little Theatre’s managing artistic directors.
“The movie itself, when it came out, it was a total bomb,” Harris said. “No one liked it — it got the worst reviews ever.”
However, some picked up on the film — not for any particular reason than its odd quirks.
“Some theaters started showing midnight showings of it where people were basically making fun of it,” Harris said.
And somewhere along the way, the late-night critiques transformed into something bigger — the beginning of a huge cult following.
San Luis Obispo itself has its own group of Rocky fans. Harris said the number of confirmed attendees on the Facebook page has hit over 400 — which is not feasible considering the film is being shown at the “little” theater. But it’s still a good sign.
“We want to do everything we can here to produce as much as we can that appeals to every single aspect of the community,” Harris said. “There’s certainly a need and desire for it.”
One fan, software engineering sophomore Mark Lerner, who has attended the show once, said he hopes to engage in the same interaction he experienced at a show in Southern California.
“No matter where you go, you always have some of the same traditions,” Lerner said. “And just the aspect of having so much fun while you’re there really brings a lot of returning viewers.”
Aside from the object throwing and yelling, there is one tradition Lerner does want to warn first-time attendees about.
“There’s also special treats for people that are seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time — they’re labeled with a giant V on their head or their face,” Lerner said.
Lerner said the attendees’ fashion is also a big part of the experience.
“When it comes to going to a Rocky Horror Picture Show, it’s not really what you’re going to wear, it’s what aren’t you going to wear,” Lerner said. “I’m pretty much going to dress myself in the dark.”
The premise of the movie comes down to Janet and Brad, a newly-engaged couple traveling to visit an old college professor. Yet along the way, their car breaks down near a mansion — which is where the quirkiness ensues.
Like Harris, Lerner said the film itself is a side note compared to the experience of the live acting and audience interaction.
“If you see the film dry, there’s nothing to it — it’s just dry,” Lerner said. “But seeing it in the theater setting is really where it’s at. The film itself is almost absent.”
One major interactive part of the movie is the “Time Warp,” a pelvic-thrusting dance performed in the film by the kooky tenants of the mansion.
“They direct the audience how to do this dance, so everyone starts doing it,” Lerner said. “And you don’t get that feeling anywhere else — it’s just hilarity.”
Second-time attendee and theatre arts sophomore Caitlin Steinmann, who had seen the film without a professional acting squad, said she hopes to find the classic Rocky traditions at the Little Theatre.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the whole thing,” Steinmann said. “I hear they’re going to have the show and I know that people are going to participate.”
Steinmann said she likes the interactive experience, as well as the show’s longstanding tradition.
“We hear about it from our parents, and it’s fun to think of our parents going to the theater and dressing up,” Steinmann said. “I don’t know why it got so big, it’s just one of those things — people pick up on weird things and then it explodes.”
Since this is the first time the Little Theatre is hosting the live show, Harris hopes for a successful evening so the theater can put on the show in the future.
“It’s so campy and everything is just completely, completely over the top,” Harris said. “It’s a good opportunity for people to get together and go a little bit crazy.”
Attendees should note the security force that will be present at check-in. This, Harris said, is just to weed out any potential accidents.
“Everyone is patted down by professional security just to make sure that they’re not bringing booze in,” Harris said. “They can’t bring water guns in because there’s some people that bring in water guns filled with vodka, so there will be a heavy but subtle security force just to make sure that none of that happens.”
Tickets are available at the door and at Traditional Tattoo and Costume Capers for $10 for the 8 p.m. showing and $14 for the midnight showing. The 8 p.m. showing is for those 16 and older, and the midnight showing is for those 18 and older unless accompanied by a parent. Midnight attendees must have a valid photo ID.