This last Saturday on an evening punctuated by some much-needed rain, folks in Ojai, CA threw toast, danced, and got weird at the inaugural showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, presented by the Ojai Film Society.
Based on the campy musical stage play, The Rocky Horror Show, the film adaptation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show featured some of the original cast in the lead roles, notable Richard O’Brien as Riff-Raff and Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, as well as debut performances by Susan Sarandan (Janet) and Barry Bostwick (Brad).
Released in the summer of 1975, alongside Jaws, which signaled the era of the blockbuster, Rocky Horror Picture Show was a flop. Although the United Artists theater in Los Angeles saw financial success with the film, this was due primarily to repeat business of the same people who had seen it before. It was then re-launched as a midnight feature and this is where the magic of live interaction, talk back and cult film history began. With an international following, Rocky Horror defies and transcends camp, bringing a festive atmosphere to each showing.
This was apparent at Libby Bowl, in Ojai, where an early screening of the film took place under an overcast sky (which seemed highly fitting).
Many audience members dressed in character and brought props to use, either as a pun or in direct reference to what the action is in the film. An example of the pun – when Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) proposes a toast (a drink), actual toast is thrown. Similarly, toilet paper is thrown at the line “Great Scott!” Other props mimic what’s used in the film – newspaper to protect oneself from rain (ably provided by water guns).
Master of Ceremonies and Office Manager of the Ojai Film Society, Jesse Phelps, provided a welcoming environment in his hosting duties and encouraged the interactive fun. A costume contest had three sets of couples take home prizes that included a gift certificate to Bonnie Lu’s diner and passes to the rest of the Ojai Film Society’s season.
Although there was no shadow cast to mimic the film, local fans jumped into the act and brought their sense of fun and joy to the evening, with full audience partici…(wait for it)…pation. When it came time to sing the signature song, “Time Warp”, the aisle ways were crowded with ‘party guests’, taking a jump to the left and a step to the right. I will admit to singing along with most of the songs with gusto, as I remembered them.
Phelps made it clear that he intended to make Rocky Horror a yearly event for Halloweenin Ojai. It is his hope to also include a shadow cast to add to the fun and interactive nature of the film in the future.
With the television remake featuring Laverne Cox as Frank N. Furter and Tim Curry as the Criminologist/Narrator airing on Fox last week and Azu’s (an Ojai local favorite eatery) Rocky Horror themed Halloween party on October 31, it seems that the cult favorite will enjoy a long and productive life in this little SoCal valley.
Check out a few more photos from the events on Saturday below: