Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 1, 2022

The Rocky Horror Picture Show performance makes for an unforgettable Halloween

By ALICIA GUEVARA | November 2, 2022

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SUSANLENOX / PUBLIC DOMAIN MARK 1.0

The Rocky Horror Picture Show performance this Halloween was the University’s rendition of a cult classic.

It turns out that I was wrong in thinking that the most exciting Mudd 26 could get was a Breaking Bad reference in the middle of an organic chemistry lecture. Behind those same squeaking doors, in front of that same projector and chalkboard, Hopkins Rocky Horror held a midnight performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Oct. 29 that took the cake.

I will honestly never see that lecture hall the same way again, in the best possible way. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for the Rocky Horror virgins, is not something that can be easily summed up or explained — it is a loud, interactive and sarcastic scripted mockery of the 1975 Rocky Horror Picture Show film, complete with cosplay and theatrical re-enactments. But more than that, it’s an atmosphere where the taboo is embraced and discomfort melts into comedy.

That being said, Rocky Horror is not for the faint of heart. The show is heavily sexual and wildly inappropriate, so definitely not something to write home to your grandparents or younger siblings about. However, there is something freeing about its explicit nature. Audience and cast members alike make noises and scream obscenities in glorious abandon.

Part of this freedom stems from the agreement that what happens within the walls of Mudd 26 stays within Mudd 26. In fact, no photography was permitted. Each audience member received a swipe of pink lipstick upon passing through the doors, a mark of initiation that almost felt cultish. Before the movie began, the cast led the audience through a series of ice-breakers to thaw the awkwardness, so everyone was implicit in ridiculousness. 

That freedom also came from every person in that room expressing their comfort in themselves and in their bodies. It comes from an infectious sense of self-confidence and relief from insecurity. From this safe space comes confidence in a unique spectrum of sexuality within the LGBTQ+ community. Here, in the shadows of the auditorium, otherwise rigid societal categorizations become permeable. Here, sex is sex is sex is sex.

That is not to say the experience was perfect. Some of the jokes that were made are offensive and definitely not on-brand with today’s political climate. Repeated qualifications had to be made by cast members at various points in the show. The film itself is also horrendously bad and obviously low-budget, complete with bizarre pacing choices, cannibalism and impromptu song and dance routines. I am mystified that the original film managed to receive a 7.4 on IMDb.

Additionally, sometimes the cues were off, the jokes were mistimed and it was hard to see the cast or hear what they shouted over the actors in the film. Yet, it was this very chaos and unplanned disorganization that held most of the show’s charm and fun for me. If everything had gone off without a hitch, it would have taken away from its raw, unapologetic honesty.

It was also both jarring and refreshing to be in a room of pre-meds and engineering students cackling over references to male genitalia. It was as if we all made an unspoken agreement to forget the Hopkins stress and worry constantly hovering in our periphery — that night, we were a chaotic mass of horny young adults, and we accepted each other for it.

So yes, thanks to this show I can no longer hear the word “come” without instantaneous thoughts of double entendre. I may have a new obsession with learning the choreography to “Time Warp,” and I may or may not be attempting to memorize the audience’s script as I write. But I also know that when Halloweekend rolls around next year, I will definitely save the date on my calendar to see this show again.

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