The first time I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show was at a Halloween festival at York U. I'd heard it was a cult favourite though I didn't know why and I wanted to find out. I was in the midst of an audience, most of whom came wearing quite outrageous costumes. I thought they had dressed up for Halloween. Certain members of audience became quite unruly as soon as the movie started. They were chatting, some even shouting and making fun of the characters and situations on screen. I got annoyed when (uncooked) rice fell on my head at the opening wedding sequence. Rice-wedding, geddit? I got it. I realised that it wasn't just a few blokes trying to spoil the show, rather it was EVERYBODY who was part of the show.
The movie itself was a no-brainer, but people keep going back to watch it again and again because it is the experience of audience participation, the crazy atmosphere and the chance to do what is usually frowned upon because it breaks every rule of audience etiquette in the book. Just as there are lines on particular cues that everyone knows and everyone shouts out simultaneously there are also moments when individuals improvise lines and they can be hilarious as well, and we try to remember to include what we had heard into our 'script' for our next screening.
Many of the themes in the movie, and what got added on later by the audience, fell under our censors' scissors in the past: sexual conflict (homo vs hetero, not guy vs girl) being one of them. Recently the censors allowed it to be shown as an outdoor event during the Halloween period, but the audience here hasn't a clue as to how the movie is to be enjoyed. When I was in Hono last year I picked up the movie on DVD as it is impossible to obtain here in Singapore (thanks to the ban that ceased to be of relevance many years ago).
I finally put the DVD to use last night at Weng's place. He had invited a few guests over for our first screening, though we really could have used a much bigger crowd. Luanne was there, of course, Chang Wei and Celine too. And it was nice to see Debbie and Eugene again, students I had taught from a couple of years back.
Weng had set up an outdoor cinema of sorts using his garage wall as a screen. He provided the hot dogs and drinks, June and I provided egg salad sandwiches and a few crunchies. Only me, Weng, and someone else in the back (Chang Wei?) were calling out most of the time, the rest of the crowd, newbies, only contributing the obligatory, "asshole," "slut," "this man has no neck" responses whenever these characters appeared or mentioned their names, and tossing the various props that Weng had provided us with on cue.
It was a fun evening. We even pursuaded Weng to show us the short film he shot a couple of weeks back. He had asked me to be in it, but I was so busy with invig at the time I couldn't fit the schedule. Anthony took my place instead, his film debut -- oh, and Celine's too. Bad crowd to show his film to though, 'cos we were still in the spirit of RHPS. We heckled it as well, turning his 'serious' drama into an unintended comedy.
Looking forward to the next screening when we have a few less RHPS 'virgins' who can create a bigger disturbance and create a better atmosphere for the next set of newbies to join us. How 'bout it, guys?