On the night of Saturday, Oct. 14, the University of Nevada, Reno, hosted a performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Glick Ballrooms. Wolf Pack Radio put on the event in collaboration with the Joe Crowley Student Union.
The show was performed by San Francisco’s Bawdy Caste. The ensemble performs Rocky Horror monthly in the Bay Area, as well as travels around northern California and Nevada. They have been performing at UNR every year around Halloween for over a decade.
“There were many, many months of planning that go into this,” said WPR director of programming Jamie Peters. “We had to book everything back in May. We started planning in March…We’re probably going to get stuff started on Monday for next year.”
Since its release in 1975, the musical film has grown into a cult phenomenon. The movie follows two fiances (Brad and Janet, played by Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) whose car breaks down and must ask for help from the transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), who lives in the castle.
But for the purposes of the show, the source film doesn’t actually matter. Instead, It is all about the experience surrounding it. The cast pantomimes the actions as the film plays behind them while the audience shouts out lines and dances along to the songs.
“It’s a musical, it’s very silly, it’s very fun and an engaging event for everyone,” Peters said. “They get to participate and do something. It’s not all just the actors. It’s not just the movie they’re watching. They’re not coming in and being quiet. They’re being loud and rowdy and throwing stuff around and yelling at the screen and throwing rice at each other and squirting each other with squirt guns.”
Rocky Horror Picture Show has also been a landmark for gay pride and inclusivity.
“We’ve had teenagers come out on our stage for the first time,” said Bawdy Caste co-director Michael Delfino. “To know that they have that place that they can do that, and in some cases, that we’re the only place that can do that, is not only an honor but it’s also a big responsibility we do not take lightly. We’re very, enormously proud to provide for them.”
The cast switches around roles each night depending on the performance. Michael Delfino is the co-director of the Bawdy Caste as well as an actor. He switches between the roles of Rocky, Frank N. Furter and Brad. At the UNR show, he played Rocky.
“It challenges you in a way really makes you raise your game,” said actor Jack Kastrop who played the part of Eddy that night. “The thing that’s deadly for a performer is to get complacent…That kills the show. If we do it exactly the same way every time there’s just no point in doing it…It sparks something and inspires you to bring your own new energy to the show.”
About 400 spectators arrived an hour and a half early, some dressed in full costume. First-timers had Vs written on their face with lipstick to signify that they were a “Virgin.” The pre-show involved dancing along to Pitbull songs with a man dressed as a tree. Candy and suggestive balloon animals were tossed out. Before the show started, Virgins had to take the Virgin oath and everyone learned the “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul” dance.
“Rocky Horror has remained relevant for 42 years simply because no matter what aspect of life you’re in, there’s going to be people who feel left out, there’s going to be people who feel marginalized, there’s going to be people who feel like the little guy,” Delfino said. “You need a place where you’re going to feel welcome, you need a place where you’re going to feel like you belong. Rocky Horror, no matter who you are, what economic status, color of your skin, what God you worship, if any, you’ll be welcome, you’ll be cheered, you’ll be loved just like anyone else walking in the door…That was the case 42 years ago, and that will be the case 42 years from now.”
In order to take part in the rituals, patrons received paper bags filled with items including newspaper, noisemakers and latex gloves. People blew bubbles and popped poppers. To watch a live production of Rocky Horror is to witness pure mayhem. Everyone constantly screams inside jokes, including calling Janet a “slut” and Brad an “asshole” for whatever reason. Scantily-clad actors run throughout the venue and crawl all over audience members.
“What I love about Rocky [Horror] it’s not just a movie, it’s not just a stage show and it’s not just a bunch of people in the audience, it’s all of those things happening and working together,” Kastrop said. “When it all goes right, we’re all part of this beautiful chaotic mess.”
After a night of grooving out, the film’s ballad “I’m Going Home” got everyone slow dancing as if at a junior high homecoming. The energy was electric and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
“This was my third year seeing Rocky Horror at UNR, and it was a blast as always,” said junior Charis Nixon. “The show is so much fun, and I love how the cast interacts with the audience. It’s a great excuse to dress up and be a weirdo, and it’s a great way to get into the Halloween spirit.”
Rocky Horror has become somewhat of a staple for Halloween.
“It lets you do the same thing Halloween does: put on a mask, take off your inhibitions and have fun,” Kastrop said. “There’s a feeling when you put on a costume that you get to be a person you don’t get to be the rest of the time.”
UNR’s production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” was a beautiful exhibition of self-expression. To anyone too conservative, homophobic, transphobic, generally closed-minded or self-important to ever go to something like this, remember…it’s just a jump to the left…