The Cult of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Earlier this week Tim Curry – star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show – celebrated his 75th birthday. So, it is only right we look at one of his greatest roles, and how over the years it has become a cult fanatic in film and theatre.

Firstly, lets look at Tim Curry himself. Timothy James Curry was born on April 19 in 1946 in Cheshire, England. Throughout his career, he has been known for working across not only theatre, but also film and television. However, his most famous role is as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975.

The Rocky Horror Show first appeared in theatres on September 26, 1975 at the United Artists Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles. The show was selling out every night, however workers noticed the same people were returning to see the same show repeatedly. As it grew more of a following, it was re-launched as a “midnight movie” – one of the first of its kind, where American TV stations would air low-budget films in the early hours of the morning – and began to run at the Waverly Theatre, New York City on April 1, 1976.

Advice for first-time Rocky Horror Picture Show attendees – Monday Magazine
Rocky Horror fans in their costumes Image credit: Monday Magazine

As the show began to run on screen from then, people in attendance began to shout things at the screen and it would later create aspects of the cult following that would span over decades including some one-liners and props. Not only this, but Rocky Horror created a new type of style for audiences from art-house to grind-house style.

After five months of the midnight run, audiences began to yell out the lines as it was beginning to stick in their minds. This soon become the norm the more screenings that were shown. As time went on again, people would also attend in costume alongside talking back to the screen, almost as if they were part of the mad world of Rocky Horror. By the end of 1979, the film was being shown twice weekly across over 230 theatres.

It was only right that there was a National Fan Club for the show – which began in 1977 – and eventually became an international fan club. A publication was released for the fans known as The Transylvanian.

The picture show continued across the country in other theatres such as the Fox Theatre in LA, The Balboa Theatre, Balboa, The Cove at Hermosa Beach and The Sands in Glendale. The casts for the different shows across the country included a diverse range of actors with a transgender performer as Frank N.Furter at the Sombrero Playhouse in Phoenix, Arizona.

With any cult following, conventions are an important aspect, and of course there was Rocky Horror conventions held across various locations.

To this day, Rocky Horror retains a global following, and this has gone well into the 21st century. Certainly, as a Gen Z growing up in the 21st Century, I can happily say I am a fan of Rocky Horror. I may not associate myself as a part of the cult following, but in terms of the soundtrack then I am one of its biggest fans. Favourites being “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” and everyone’s favourite “Time Warp”.

It is the madness, curiosity and of course the amazing soundtrack that makes The Rocky Horror Picture Show a cultural favourite of many. So, in celebration of his role as Frank N. Furter and the film and theatre production itself – altogether now, “Let’s do the Time Warp Again!”

By Katie Green

Feature image: The Edge

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