The first time I saw "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," I was 15 and shocked and titillated by what was happening on the screen. But, by the end of the movie, I was completely hooked. For my friends and I, seeing a Rocky Horror midnight show became what we did on Friday nights.
We'd get all dressed up—or more accurately, dressed down—which, in my case, meant clown-white makeup, a tacky blazer with a Rocky Horror T-shirt (for clarification) and a tote bag. My outfit didn't exactly scream Rocky Horror (hey, I was only 15!), but at the time felt daring and risqué. While I was fairly certain no one in Transsexual Transylvania ever carried a tote bag, I needed something to hold all my props.
Once you're a Rocky Horror regular, you know exactly what's required of you as an audience member. For example, when Brad and Janet get out of the car in the rain, you must shoot your squirt gun and put your newspaper over your head. Throwing rice, toast, cards and confetti is also part of the fun.
When mouthing movie dialogue, you must never deviate, and recite it exactly as the characters say it. Ask me today and I can still do a perfect Frank N Furter imitation of the line "You look like you're both pretty groovy," complete with eye roll and mouth twist. Admittedly, I had some help in memorizing the movie from my friend Alan, who taped the soundtrack on a cassette recorder he'd smuggled into the theater.
I loved Tim Curry, who played Frank N Furter, as well as Richard O'Brien, the writer of the show who played Riff Raff. Curry's overt sexuality seemed so dangerous to me. I fell in love with O'Brien each and every time he and Patricia Quinn (who played his sister Magenta) sang "Time Warp."
Tim Curry subsequently released a few solo albums and went on tour to promote them. I remember my friends and I buying tickets to see him live at The Boarding House in San Francisco, even though we were all underage. But being Rocky Horror fans had made us brave and helped enable some bad choices, and seeing Tim Curry in the flesh was something we desperately needed to do.
The Boarding House was made up of long tables that led right up to the stage, so by buying dinner, we were able to snag seats at the front of the center table. When Curry came out, I could see him pretty well, but not as well as when he actually walked on our table right in front of me. I wanted to reach out and touch his feet but knew it would be pretty uncool, so I held back.
There were a few moments when he looked down at me and I felt a connection, but it was more likely that he was only trying to avoid stepping on my apple pie. I told everyone at school the next day that we had made eye contact and that Frank N Furter smiled right at me.
My lie went over well and made me want even more contact with Curry. Luckily, another opportunity arose, this time at a record signing. Since the event was in the middle of the day, I had to cut school, but having a conversation with him would score me big points with the Rocky Horror crowd.
The line seemed endless but I eventually got to the front where he was seated. Unfortunately, he barely looked up when I handed over my "Read My Lips" record for him to sign. This wasn't going well.
"What's your name?" Curry asked.
"Chryssa," I said, which by the way, isn't my name, but I thought it sounded sophisticated.
"Chryssa? How do you spell that?" he asked.
I wasn't even sure it was a real name as I had made it up on the spot.
"C-H-R-Y-S-S-A," I improvised.
"OK, Chryssa," Tim said, signing the album with a felt pen and handing it back to me.
Instead of moving on, I just stood there, trying to come up with something else that would make him see me as something other than your average Rocky Horror fan.
"Have you talked to Richard O'Brien lately?" I blurted out, as if Richard was a mutual friend of ours.
His eyes widened and he considered me for a moment, then answered dryly, "No, not lately," and turned away.
Years later, I would see Tim Curry every now and then at a restaurant near my house in L.A. Our eyes would sometimes meet and he'd look at me for a moment as if he thought he knew me from somewhere in the past.
"It's just a jump to the left," I wanted to tell him. "And then a step to the right."