I remember one particular Saturday morning about 15 years ago, we had a scheduled trip planned. It was pouring down rain, but instead of cancelling the trip and curling up with a good novel, we braved Mother Nature, and went to Tinseltown. We arrived on Hollywood Boulevard around nine, which meant that parking was no problem at all, but we had to search for a cup of coffee. We finally found one at a place that claimed to serve the best espresso in Hollywood, which I have no doubt is true. What they aren’t telling you, however, is that they may well serve the only espresso in Hollywood.
At ten, the rain had escalated from a drizzle to a downpour, and we made our way up the boulevard of stars, jumping from awning to awning until we reached our goal. There it was, Frederick’s of Hollywood, which is more than just a famous store. Frederick’s is home to the Lingerie Museum and Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, and that’s what we’d come to see. If you want to get to know a movie star, what better way than to take a look at his underwear? We walked inside under the pink and purple sign. A stunning array of nylon creations hung on the racks and walls. Mr. Frederick’s motto is, “Don’t dream it…live it,” and his store makes every attempt to provide you with the hardware to manifest your fantasies. Unless your fantasies revolve around a lot of net and feathers, though, you may need to look elsewhere.
Don’t dream it. Be it.” Originally a line from a Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie catalog, it now means something totally different to thousands of people in a very odd subculture. To them it is their motto. Every Friday and Saturday night at midnight all across the country, they live the dream. The dream of Rocky Horror. What is Rocky Horror? Well, let’s go back to the beginning. . Let me explain a little bit.
According to its creator O’Brien, “the movie is really an excuse for dressing up and having a party.” So what’s the big deal? Take that insane story and add the fact that people dress up like the actors and perform in front of the screen while audience members yell and throw things and there you have it. By 1991 RHPS, was sixteen years old and had spawned a participatory cult involving about 30,000 people Even now, on a weekly basis, in theaters across the United States and Europe people gather up their props, put on stage make-up, outfit themselves (often in drag) and attend a film at which they shout instructions, comments, requests, mockeries, rhetorical questions, and appreciative catcalls. Some of these people have seen the film more than 1,000 times. Many of the showings are prefaced by “pre-shows,” usually involving the initiation of “virgins,” and frequently involving costume competitions, trivia bowls, parodies of beauty contests, or skits incorporating material from other movie cults
People just don’t throw random things, everything has a specific meaning. There’s a wedding scene in the movie and everyone in the audience throws rice. When Frank proposes a toast, people throw toast. In one of the songs is a line that goes, “There’s a light over at the Frankenstein place,” and everyone lights matches. During the rain scene, people shoot squirt guns at each other. When Dr. Scott arrives, Brad yells, “Great Scott!” and toilet paper goes flying through the aisles. In one of Frank’s songs is a line, “cards for sorrow, cards for pain,” and people throw (what else?) playing cards. But that’s not all. In the epitome of audience participation, people have it down to a science where what they yell at the screen makes it look like they are having a conversation with the actors.
So what does the future hold for Rocky Horror? Who knows? Popularity is growing all over the country. Lou Adler claims that he has no plans to make a sequel, and that’s just as well, because it’s impossible to purposely create a cult film, and nothing could compare to the king of the cults, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
And let O’Brien’s words guide you through your life. Don’t dream it. Be it.”