The smack of red lipstick and the snap of latex punctuated the rowdy lobby; taut corsets spilled over their brims with the laced-up bodies of the cult film enthusiasts filling the room. A costumed crowd flooded the Majestic Theatre; men, women and non-binary beauties bedecked in glitter, heels, and smiles.
Above the din and laughter a shriek rose.
“Virgins, send me your virgins!”
The “virgin sacrifice” ensued, each first-timer to the midnight showing receiving a bright red “V” slashed across their cheek in lipstick.
For the second year in a row, a 40-year-old cult classic tradition transpired at Corvallis’ Majestic Theatre. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” screened Oct. 21 and 22, two showings each day, including midnight viewings.
“We came out here and we thought we’d poke the community and see what they thought and it sold out,” said Sarah Sullivan, the event’s organizer.
Sullivan comes from Kansas State University, where the midnight showings of “Rocky Horror” are alive and well.
The turnout at the Majestic was tremendous; tickets for both Friday and Saturday sold out ahead of time. “The Rocky Horror” tradition finally hit home in Corvallis, and it was met with a community starving for this kind of event.
“This is just such a fantastic thing because we’re all coming together,” said Sullivan. “We’re just having a good time and it’s a very LGBTQ friendly place; people can just let themselves be wild for the entire night, and it’s just something that I think as humans we need.”
Based on a popular musical stage production, “The Rocky Horror Show,” the 1975 movie release flopped in the box office. Yet just one year later, this celebratory comedy-musical-horror-sci-fi that spoofed early sci-fi and B horror films, was shown regularly at midnight showings in the Waverly Theatre, New York City, and it didn’t stop there. Audiences developed call-and-response, “counterpoint dialogue” routines that evolved into their part of the cult tradition.
“You can tell the different generations that are watching the movie based on the callbacks as well as the different parts of the country these people are from based on their callbacks,” said Sullivan.
Forty years later, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is the longest running film in continuous release, according to the BBC. It’s literally been playing at theatres and cinemas around the world, nonstop.
The eclectic film chronicles the misadventures of a lily-white American couple and their encounter with a mad scientist transvestite alien from the planet of Transylvania. Its flagrant eroticism coupled with catchy tunes, wild ostentatiousness and abnormal casting give the movie its gravitational pull.
Many argue the film was ahead of its time, but “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” found an audience that needed it, and quickly developed into the cult classic.
“They (cult films) appeal to audiences who see themselves as outsiders in the real world – they identify as part of a counter-culture and want their appetites satiated by specific cult films,” wrote Tom Brook for the BBC.
The tradition passes from film generation to film generation as newcomers inundate the scene.
“Last year over 75 percent of the people who came were virgins, and this year about the same,” said Sullivan.
Without the adoration of faithful audiences, a phenomenon as unique as these midnight showings couldn’t exist. Something keeps the hordes coming back to watch the same film, year after year; a certain urge to fling oneself outside of the ordinary, dull landscape and drab clothes of everyday life and into a landscape of self-creation. The film calls on us to reject the walls that bind us into our safe, small societal roles.
As Dr. Frank-n-furter sings in the final number, “Don’t dream it, be it.”
After such smashing success at The Majestic, this tradition is [hopefully] here to stay in Corvallis. Check it out next year.