For nearly forty years, the Rocky Horror Picture Show has been A popular cult classic. Originally performed as a musical and later adapted into a B-movie, midnight showings of the sexual comedy began in theaters in the '70s and continue in some cities today. With audience participation and the opportunity to go out in public wearing fishnets and a corset, these showings are even more popular around Halloween.
Denver is one of thirty cities in the country that has never stopped showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and audiences can catch four screenings of the Halloween production this October. Colorado Elusive Ingredient, a shadow production company that re-enacts the film while it plays on the big screen, will be performing at the Boulder Theater on Friday, October 17 at 8 p.m. and midnight on October 24, 25 and 31 at the Esquire Theater. For information about any of the upcoming Colorado Elusive Ingredient shows or to purchase tickets, visit the Rocky Horror Denver website.
Westword recently caught up with Andrew Altman, cast manager of Colorado's Elusive Ingredient, to reminisce about the early days of Rocky Horror, the virgin revival of the show and the upcoming showings.
How's the preparation going for your upcoming Halloween shows?
It's been exhausting. We've been getting ready for the pre-show for almost eight months now.
Eight months? Why do you start preparation for Halloween so early?
If you've been to a normal midnight showing and a Halloween showing, you'll notice that Halloween always sells out. It's packed. So, we typically start looking for the Halloween pre-show before December. We like to have a firm choice in our pre-show by February or March, at the very minimum six months prior. We're as close to a professional cast as any amateur cast can be.
What's this year's Halloween pre-show?
What I can say right now is it's very Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
How many Halloween showings are you doing this year?
For any Halloween season we'll do three midnight showings to accommodate the crowds. This year we've added an additional show at the Boulder Theater on Friday, October 17.
Yeah I saw that. What's up with the 8 p.m. showing?
Well, we're playing by the Boulder Theater's rules. They're putting on the movie and we're just doing everything else. They told us they wanted to do a showing of Rocky during October and asked if we wanted to be a part of it, and we said absolutely.
Keep reading for more on Altman's experience with Rocky Horror.
It's been almost forty years since the debut of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. What keeps Colorado's Elusive Ingredient in business at this point?
Well the demand for Rocky has never stopped. The show itself has really gone through three major phases: the production of the movie, the glory days of the '70s and the present. When the movie itself first came out, it bombed terribly in theaters, but midnight showings were selling out, especially in New York and L.A.
The dress up part really came in the second phase. Legend has it that a woman named Dori Hartley showed up at the Waverly Theater dressed as Frankenfurter from the Creation scene. And the crowd went ape-shit for her.
Flash forward to audience participation. When did that kick in?
The very first callback line happened when Janet is covering her head with a newspaper and someone yelled, "Buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch!" And that's the kind of show you see now.
I saw my first Rocky Horror in Colorado Springs maybe ten years ago, and I was pretty excited when I heard you were planning a showing there for Halloween. What happened there?
Well, we were planning on taking part in a Colorado Springs Halloween festival, but there were some mishaps with planning. We're planning on doing it for real next year to several hundreds of people.
So what can people expect to see at your Halloween showings this year?
Well, if you're a virgin to the show and you come to the Halloween production, I guess I'd say that the show is very sophomoric. It's risqué, very burlesque and full of sexual humor.
What's the difference between a regular Colorado's Elusive Ingredient midnight showing and a Halloween showing?
We have to keep the Halloween showings very traditional, orthodox Rocky Horror, if you will. At a normal showing we'll have anywhere from 150-300 regulars in the audience, and we can play into all manners of nonsense with them. But Halloween's crowd will be people who have rarely been to our shows or they'll be virgins. So we can't fool around with everyone as much.
Take a show like the Big Bang Theory, for example. You know the whole Sheldon knocking at the door calling Penny bit? Well that would have been annoying and confusing if they had done that joke in the first episode. But now we're eight seasons in, so they can use riffs that wouldn't otherwise be funny since the audience is used to it. That's how it is with regulars and virgins.
Continue reading to learn more about what to expect at a Halloween Rocky Horror showing.
I noticed at your September show that the crowd was mostly virgins. Is this new?
They're not getting younger, we're just getting older, and right now it's noticeable. But I'd say that since the '80s our audience has been mostly the 17-22, high schoolers and underclassmen. It's the resurgence of kids discovering the music of the '70s and '80s.
Back to Halloween, can you promise us a spectacular cast for these three nights?
For our Halloween show and the shows that fall closest to it, we always make sure each role is played by who we believe is the best person for that role. You're not allowed to debut on Halloween. For example, if you wanted to play Columbia, you'd debut in June or July.
How about the beloved Frankenfurter? The girl who played Frank in September was pretty amazing.
Ah, that's Sev. And Sev is special. She will be playing Frankenfurter on Halloween.
I've seen the girl in action. Her sexuality and confidence resonated from the stage. How would you describe her to readers?
You'd have to break out a 1930s dictionary to be able to accurately describe Sev. She's five kinds of badass. She's the kind of woman you call a broad in a good way.
Any other standout characters audiences can expect at your Halloween shows?
Well, we've got a guy making a guest appearance that played the cast lead in the Baltimore showing. He's got 15 years of Rocky Horror experience! And we have the best Dr. Scott in the nation. I mean, he's won lookalike contests.
Will you be making an appearance at the Halloween shows?
I'll be playing Eddie. I've played about every single role in the show except for Columbia. I played Magenta once. And believe me, I was a hot Magenta. Women wanted me and men wanted to be me. Or the other way around. Something like that.