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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

One of the things I'm most proud of, as I work with college students is introducing them to "old" musicals and watching them fall in love with them. The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show is one of my favorites, especially when the students have the same reaction to it that I did. When they come back to class telling me that they watched it over the weekend and then kept watching it. And then they introduced their friends to it. Whether they liked it or not. I definitely remember showing it to a group of friends who, I'm still surprised to say, did not get it. Which I took personally then, but now I get it. It is not for everyone. And that's okay.


Goodness gracious I love Magenta and Riff Raff. I do not remember Riff Raff's schtick with the champagne bottle before this viewing and it's sublime.


RHPS wasn't queer awakening for me that it was for a lot of people my age. Partly because it took me so very long to accept myself as bisexual. But it did resonate with the joyful weirdo in me. I love this movie so so much largely because everyone in it is having a Grand Old Time. They are throwing everything they have at the wall and I honestly can't tell you if it sticks (certainly not narratively) but it doesn't matter because it's FUN. And FUN is something I've always struggled with. Everything needs to have function and needs to be performed adequately. Or that's how I felt for most of my life. And this movie always makes me dance and sing and have fun. And I'm grateful.


I also adore it as an examination of sexuality and gender as a spectrum. There are no answers in Rocky Horror Picture Show, only an invitation to ask questions. There are, of course, massive discussions to be had around consent in this film. I LOVE Tim Curry but the older I get, the less I like Frank. Not that you're supposed to, but it's easy to get swept up in that performance. It's been a few years since I watched it and I do not remember how often he mugs to the camera. It's such a wildly engaging film and that's just one of the ways that it fuels that engagement. I love the callbacks (thanks, Ben, for putting up with me yelling "asshole" every time Brad introduced himself) but I never really got into shadow casts and midnight performances because I always felt like it detracted from a movie that already invites you inside. No one needs to open the door when Tim Curry is wiggling an eyebrow at the camera. You're already there.


Are you there, God? It's me, Shannon. Please let me design RHS with a big budget and lots of help before I walk away from theater freelancing forever.


Acrylic and EL wire on canvas

Takeaways:

-As usual, I'm mostly thrilled with how this turned out. It was so (relatively) easy to paint Frank. Even dashing out the background Columbia came pretty easily. But I feel mired in mediocrity. Turns out EL wire and canvas are not a match made in heaven. While this went better than even the Batman Returns jacket in terms of lettering (something I need to tell myself more), punching the holes for the wire to pass through was messy business, leaving a lot of threads and pieces hanging in ways that made it surprisingly difficult to cut off. I also stabbed myself pretty deeply under a fingernail with the awl I was using while I was doing this and that was the moment I decided to abandon the originally conceived diptych (the second panel - already begun, maybe I'll finish it with some space between me and it - featured Frank turning away, biting his thumb, with "Even my face aches from smiling" in EL wire).

-Again, my EL wire lettering has come a longish way, but I'm frustrated by the required process for this which had me super gluing each letter as I went and as a result, I couldn't fix a whole lot. I hate that V in "having". Hate it. So annoyed.

-I had Frank's verse for "Rose Tint My World" stuck in my head all week. "I'm a wild and untamed thing. I'm a bee with a deadly sting." This piece, in general, ended up being more poignant than I expected. I earnestly do not find it easy to have a good time. I'm almost 40 and I'm still so bound up in propriety. I wish I was a wild and untamed thing.

-Three movies from now will be my 100th film for Making & Movies which feels so monumental but also... I thought I'd be further along. More confident? More recognized. Something. Cate Blanchett was just on Hot Ones (interview series conducted while eating increasingly spicy wings) and she talked about her approach to acting being based in the idea that "no one will see this." That that allows her to give everything without fear of ridicule or even examination. I keep thinking about that. Maybe the lesson right now is to be a wild and untamed thing who acts as though no one is looking. But at the same time, I kind of feel like that's what I've been doing. My version, anyway. Trying everything, going for broke... I don't know. I guess I wish it felt more like it mattered. That sounds SO dismal but part of the reason for starting this was to improve my renderings, but now that I'm moving away from theater and I'm so passionate about fine art... if I'm not improving enough and can't get into art school and barely sell any of my work... now what? I also recognize that this is a very capitalism driven view but that's also the world we live in.


Haha oh dear, I guess RHPS really does invite questions without giving answers. I suppose I should search for answers next.


Next week, the last of the spooky season picks for 2022 and one of my first horror movies: Resident Evil! Spoiler: it's just going to be a mural on the side of our house of Michelle Rodriguez saying "Blow me" with her pink pink lipstick.


I hope this week gets you on your feet and dancing. After all (and this is astounding), time is fleeting.

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