Don’t Dream It, Be It.

Self Discovery with The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I don’t know what spell came over me. Maybe it was the red lips. The absolutely mind penetrating songs from the soundtrack that invaded my mind or Tim Curry in fishnets, but   The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a beacon of light and truth for me. Its magic changed my life and the way I viewed many things including myself. I remember the exact moment like it was yesterday, it was October 1992.

I was a high school freshman. I don’t know if you remember your freshmen year, but it’s a year of discovery. Discovering who your tribe is, discovering who you are, and discovering many, MANY new things. I was always involved in music, dance, and theater, but I could finally audition and be in a full out production for my high school’s drama club. The show was Charley’s Aunt. I got cast as Ella Delahey, a young ingénue who did not know the ways of the world. Not unlike whom I was at the time. When you’re thirteen and the worst thing you ever did was make a prank phone call with some friends, you get the idea. The show was a smashing success, but I received my first taste of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at where I believe most green actors receive their taste, the cast party. The upperclassmen immediately upon getting to the party started saying, “Put it on, we need to get our Time Warp on!” Timewarp, are we going to be watching Star Trek? Someone popped in a worn-out looking VHS—yes, I’m dating myself—into a VCR and all of a sudden the black screen was filled by the most perfect pair of red lips. The lips started singing “Science Fiction/Double Feature” and I was hypnotized.

What was this I was seeing? And what was everyone screaming at the television? What was this madness that I was in the middle of? And why did I love every minute of it? It wasn’t until I saw the best entrance by a character ever—fight me, I dare you—that I was completely sold. The entrance of Dr Frank-N-Furter is something that will forever be burnt into my mind. Tim Curry, who I had only known from his roles as Rooster from Annie and Wadsworth from Clue, was a vision. His voice silky and sexy, his confidence in garters and fishnets mind-blowing. Literally mind-blowing to me because I had never seen anything like it, he was unbelievable as this character. I remember thinking to myself, “My God, I don’t know if I want to love him or be him.” There are times when rewatching that I still feel that way.

It was like nothing I had ever seen. It was daring and open and struck something in me that forever changed. I immediately found a copy in a video store and bought it on the spot. Then I found a CD of the soundtrack and played it on repeat. I ate, drank and slept Rocky Horror. It made me start to think of my own pet project and creativity. It made me feel more confident in who I was becoming. Yes, I was what would be considered one of those ‘theater’ kids, but I was my own person. Had my own likes and dislikes, and could be whoever I wanted to be.  “Don’t dream it, be it” as Frank N Furter sings at the end of “Rose Tint My World”. From this point on I wasn’t the same.

The ‘obsession’ of Rocky continued with each passing year. My sophomore year, I dressed as Columbia for Halloween. Not to mention I could imitate Little Nell’s high pitched “Yeaaaaaaaow” with precision. The tap dance had down pat and perfect except for the fall at the end, straightens top hat. My junior year was the 20th Anniversary of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and VHI was showing it along with a contest on Halloween. If you got through you won a T-shirt, a copy of the 20th anniversary VHS—DVD’s did not come out until 1997—and a karaoke CD of the soundtrack. Well, luck must’ve been on my side, because I got through and won the entire package. I wore out the CD after the first week and somewhere I still have that worn-out Frank-N-Furter lounging on lips T-shirt.

What I’ve realized over the years since is The Rocky Horror Picture Show uncovers your tribe for you. It lets you feel a part of something creative and fun and it pushes you to dream big. You find something when watching Rocky that resonates within you. For me, it was being myself; being comfortable in my own wacky, bubbly, and outgoing skin. It was a way for me to connect with other artists and creatives and find a common core that joined us all together. It’s finding your home among all the other “Transylvanians”. It’s going home. To leave you with the lyrics from one of my favorite Rocky songs, I hope you watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show with open eyes and open heart and find your own piece of home. As I have tried to do since day one of watching, don’t dream it, be it.

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate satin draped frame
As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry
Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same

Give yourself over to absolute pleasure
Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh
Erotic nightmares beyond any measure
And sensual daydreams to treasure forever
Can’t you just see it?

Don’t dream it, be it
Don’t dream it, be it
Don’t dream it, be it
Don’t dream it, be it

Closing number with cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on stage dancing in corsets

Written by J.C. Hotchkiss

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