Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly
Since its release in the fall of 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has developed a cult following even one of its original creators can hardly fathom. Actress Patricia Quinn, who played Magenta in the original stage and film versions, described to Paste Magazine what it was like in the early days of Rocky Horror.
“We were making this up as we were going along, daily. It began with a couple of songs and not many lines, and it still doesn’t have many lines, which was great about it.”
The ‘we’ she speaks of was in fact Quinn, writer/creator Richard O’Brien (who also plays Riff Raff), and the fabulous Tim Curry, then a 27-year-old unknown.
Although they had sold out performances every night with lines around the block, the real validation came when an unexpected visitor paid them a visit.
“[One night], Vincent Price walked into our dressing room and said how wonderful we all were,” Quinn says. “We all fell over. For the ‘King of Horror’ to walk in, that’s amazing!”
Indeed their little sci-fi horror musical comedy would go on to impress many and spawned the film adaptation that just won’t quit.
Although the film flopped upon its release, Tim Deegan, an executive at Fox, convinced the studio to start having midnight screenings after successful showings of Reefer Madness and Pink Flamingos.
Soon after, showings of the film became a weekly event in small art house cinemas like New York’s Waverly Theater. The Waverly is also credited as the birthplace of the audience participation movement that has become so intertwined with Rocky Horror screening culture.
Also known as “shadowcastings,” chosen participants dress up as the characters and act out the film in front of the screen. Meanwhile the audience yells and throws things corresponding to different parts of the film. In short, The Rocky Horror Picture Show never lost its theatrical roots, recreating it during film screenings as a type of interactive, immersive performance art.
Not surprisingly, there are still diehard fans that participate in weekly or monthly shadowcasts of the film. The film has never been pulled from its original 1975 release and is the longest running release in film history.
Patricia Quinn says it best. “We don’t get sick of it, ever. You can’t get sick of it. It’s uplifting,” she says with all sincerity. “It’s given everyone that excuse to put on fishnets.”
Look out for the 40th Anniversary edition of the film at select theater chains like AMC this Halloween weekend. And remember… It’s just a jump to the left!