But I'm sort of getting ahead of myself.
First, a bit of personal history -- I lost my Virginity when I was 18. No, not my virginity, my Virginity... when I attended my very first Rocky Horror at SUNY Purchase, who then ran it about 50 times after that -- and I attended about two thirds of those showings. Needless to say I had done the time warp, and I LIKED it. At that point the movie had been out 6 years (and Susan Sarandon was already mortified about that factoid) and the call backs were still evolving, as they would continue to evolve over the next (cough, hack) 25 years.
Roni went a LOT further than I did -- stuck in Phoenix she participated, by her estimates, in several hundred "shadow cast" productions, usually as (who else?) Columbia. There was one time when her beau (and director) decided to "mix things up" and made her play Janet... but when she was stripped down after the "Sweet Transvestite" number, people were shocked to find that the fat red head, while wearing the traditional slip and panties, had applied two band-aids as her "top". Barely legal in Arizona, and enough to send theater management into conniption fits**
Just for laughs, let's mention penguingoddess and her experiences in Minnesota, and that all three of us have seen shows here in the SF Bay area at multiple locations, thus covering about 1000 shows and four time zones, with a bonus attendance at a live performance (given by that same director, all grown up and re-visiting his roots -- a well done show, I might add). While this is a pittance compared to some, it does give us SOME idea of the difference betwween a good show and a bad one.
This started about two weeks ago, when I discovered that lunar_phoenix had never been to a showing, and thus was a Virgin. Rocky Virgins are a fun thing to find, especially if you think they would enjoy the live experience. Since Kim, Roni and I had been attending the Barely Legal production at the Parkway in Oakland for neigh on 8+ years, and never had a bad time, we decided to gather together a group to sacrifice the Virgin. paka and perlandria were in attendance as well. Esther's friend Kimmi was also supposed to attend, but wound up having to deal with personal drama not of her making.
We all had a lovely dinner, prepped at our place (which it's just occurred to me we have yet to properly name!) and caravaned over to the theater.
I began to get bad vibes immediately after walking through the door -- for one thing, I had never been so intensely frisked before, not even at other events at the coliseum. Then hey started quizzing me about my cell, and told me that I wouldn't be permitted to bring it into the theater if it had a camera.
Say fucking WHAT?
Folks, I've had a camera phone for the last 5 years, and have been to this same show dozens of times -- no one ever asked me to remove my phone. They just tell you not to take any pictures, just like any other production -- this seemed pretty freaking capricious, and when I made a stink about it they insisted that "It's been this way for the last 5 years", essentially calling Roni, Kim and I liars.
My choices were to have Paka lock the phones in his truck in a bad neighborhood, or to accept the offer of the staff to store them in the box office.
We put them in his trunk. While we were gone they apparently were snarky about how they would have been safer in the box office -- with my personal information, the ability to call anywhere in the world, oh, and the fact that my phone was an iPhone made me feel REALLY safe about leaving in their hands. NOT.
Reality check: When taking pictures in a dark theater, you know what you get sans flash? NOTHING. Using the flash is as good as telling the entire theater you're being an asswipe. Therefore, preventing the mere possession of camera phones is the sign of a over-controlling paranoid mindset. Never mind that it's not clear to me what they were afraid of, as all of these maniacs hang out in front of the theater (where they couldn't control random passers by from taking scandalous pictures of boys in garters). Also, they were so focussed on me that Roni just neglected to mention her camera phone.
I was incredibly cranky about it, and already thought that maybe Barely Legal had sunken into self-indulgence of the worst sort*** and that perhaps this would be my last show, and managed to sit on my hands during the intro out of protest (even though the attitude check would have been REALLY cathartic at that point). However, I realized that this was Erika's night, and me being all pouty and bitchy was a fine way to ruin her evening, so I decided to try and get back into it.
Except the cast seemed to be going out of its way to make that impossible.
We were actually SHUSHED and ridiculed by cast and crew for using different callbacks then they were using -- and their callbacks were so complex that they sounded like muddy chants at a soccer match more than callbacks. They kept turning the sound up too loud during the lead in to the movie, and then managed to turn it down enough to drown out most of the movie lines with their muddled reactions. There were some individually excellent performances, though Roni was right that a female Frank (who wasn't even packing, damn it!) was too meta for Rocky -- and after Victor/Victoria, the joke is way old.
Adding to my disgust was that the crew was smoking weed throughout the performance. I'm NOT slamming the drug-use per se, but the timing -- theater equipment will hurt you if you're sloppy, never mind the impact on the production. Save it for the after-party folks.
Erika wound up not going up with the rest of the Virgins for the ritual-de-virgining (I think my spell checker just had an aneurysm!) because SHE got a bad vibe -- as it was, half the audience were virgins, which is an absurdly high ratio. Add in the occasional participants like our little group, and I realized that the cast and friends made up the rest of the audience. Basically, this had turned into a cliquish exercise in cult cinematic dogma, and we (the audience -- remember us?) had become a necessary evil to be barely tolerated.
Makes me wish someone would re-open the UC theater on University Ave. in Berkeley again -- only this time they won't think they're "above" letting Rocky be shown on Saturday nights.
Ah well -- Barely Legal had a decent run before sinking into this self-parodied ruin. Hopefully I'll be able to track down another show somewhere in the Bay Area to PROPERLY pop Erika's Rocky cherry -- quite frankly what happened last Saturday was akin to date rape by an impotent midget.
* If you have no idea what I'm talking about, find a (decent!) midnight showing of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" with a shadow cast and attend. Be prepared to throw toast and toilet paper. That is all.
** Of course, the even more skimpily dressed teen aged girls who were skinny never elicited the same comments. You draw your own conclusions.
*** Entertaining self-indulgence is another thing entirely!