This year was the 40th anniversary of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and it’s still going strong. Audiences are still filling theaters on Saturday nights to scream obscenities and throw toilet paper and playing cards at the screen while people play the characters on stage and the film rolls in the background.
In Houston, the River Oaks Theatre typically has screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” every second Saturday of the month. A line wraps around the theater not to see the movie, but to be entertained by the shadow cast, the Royal Mystic Order of Chaos, who perform as the characters in the movie in sync with the scenes from the film.
I have the privilege of playing a Transylvanian, which is a glorified backup dancer. But it’s actually the best role in the world for me as someone who is not usually keen about being in front of people, let alone an audience of over 400. The role doesn’t require any lines to memorize.
You really just have to look the part and scream like a banshee every time Dr. Frank N. Furter does anything.
As a sister of the Chaos troupe I might be biased in saying this, but we put on one hell of show. Being a Transylvanian, I get the best of both worlds by participating and watching at the same time. After being an audience member since my junior year of high school, I decided to join the cast as a Transylvanian.
As fun as it is to be in the audience—and I’m saying this in the most endearing way—and watch the train wreck ensue, I needed more. Seeing my friends perform was one thing, but making fools of ourselves as one huge, dysfunctional and inseparable family is another.
The Transylvanians pass out fliers to everyone waiting in line and help set up the prop bags, which are filled with everything the audience needs in order to participate effectively. If we find a “virgin”— someone who has never been to a show before — the protocol is to draw a red “V” on their forehead. Getting to initiate people into a tradition that is very dear to me makes me proud of what I do.
It’s worth all the mornings after, when I wake up and realize that I slept with my makeup on after seeing the eyeliner smudged on my pillow case. It’s worth all the hours of rehearsing, only to mess up the dance moves on stage. If one of us makes a mistake, it only adds to our overall charm.
The Royal Mystic Order of Chaos doesn’t do any of this for money. We do it because we want to do it. Rocky Horror is something that means just as much to us as it does to the audience.