Don’t dream it, be it!

A cult classic showcases Tim Curry’s finest hour.

Katie Wilber

Don’t worry if a strangely dressed person wearing more black eye makeup than an NFL quarterback approaches you at the theater and asks, “Are you a virgin?” It’s all part of the tradition, part of the phenomenon and part of the inexplicable theatrical favorite with a cult following.

Based on the laughable “B” and sometimes “C” horror flicks of the 1950s, “The Rocky Horror Show” got its start in a small theater at the Royal Court Square in England. For some odd reason it began to attract larger crowds and soon moved to the United States, but the fad passed and it only lasted a month on Broadway.

The 1976 movie version was renamed “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” since the medium had switched from theater to film. It starred many of the original London cast members, including Tim Curry and Richard O’Brien (O’Brien also wrote the original play, the screenplay and the songs), and sadly seemed doomed to a life of obscurity. But never fear; college kids across the United States took a liking to it, and late-night showings in New York rejuvenated the cult passion.

Nobody is quite sure what makes this spinoff of cheesy, scary movies different than the rest. Maybe it’s the antics of the sex-crazed Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Maybe it’s the party-hearty Transylvanians. Then again, maybe it’s the catchy lyrics and music imploring the audience, “Let’s do the time warp again.”

On their way to visit an old college tutor, the newly engaged Brad and Janet take a wrong turn and end up with a flat tire in the middle of a rainstorm. It’s a good thing they’re not too far from a castle, and they decide to ask the owner if they can use the telephone. The castle’s owner, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is in the midst of a party celebrating the birth of Rocky Horror, his greatest creation. He invites Brad and Janet to stay for the night, and they agree. It’s a choice they’ll come to regret, for nothing will ever be the same.

Whatever the reason, it’s become tradition for many people to pull fishnet stockings, platform shoes and leather out of the closet and take toilet paper, rice, squirt guns and party favors to a late-night performance of “Rocky Horror.” Audience participation is a key factor; a wedding wouldn’t be complete without rice to throw at the bride and groom as they leave the church, and when it rains it’s nice to have a newspaper to help keep clothes dry.

Oh, and about the virgin thing: It’s probably not a proposition; the gothic fellow is only asking if you’ve seen the show before. If you haven’t, then just admit it, pull out the prop bag you bought at the theater for $2 and prepare to partake in one of the greatest late-night traditions since trick-or-treating.