“I’m just a sweet transvestite, from transsexual Transylvania,” Lyrics like these shocked audiences around the world in the mid-70’s. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” a culture shock that now has grown into a pop culture classic was received with mixed reviews and unimpressive box office appeal. The musical comedy-satire-spoof of the horror/sci-fi genre was released nationwide September 1975 with advance screenings in cities like London and Los Angeles. Sadly the success of the film didn’t begin until 1976, especially since around the same time movies like “Jaws” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” were dominating the box office. It later moved to midnight showings on Friday and Saturday nights which is where it quickly gained cult film followers. The movie pushed boundaries from the way the characters, audiences and dialogue fought what was socially acceptable at the time and challenged conventional ideas that to this day still affect the way we live.
Rocky Horror excavates the bounty of Sexual Revolution of the 1970s, the American fetishes and the also dips into the cold and cruel lakes of the American dreams. Because it was foreign made (British to be exact) it has its upper hand in being “real” in its exploration of and satirical approach to these American happening. Also true to its British creators, the element of men cross-dressing is a key example of past British traditions such as Shakespeare’s original plays which then led to androgynous fabulous artist like Elton john and David Bowie. This however was the smallest, least shocking aspect of the film to London viewers at its opening.
The movie opens with Brad and Janet, a superficial example of the traditional, all-American, couple that of course is stranded in the middle of nowhere with Mother Nature working as their antagonist. They knock on the door of a nearby castle in hopes of using a telephone but are taken prisoners by the owner, Dr. Frank- N- Furter, a cross dressing, sexually infatuated, Martian from the planet of “transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.”
Frank-N-Furter turns out to be a madman who acts out what ever aggression or sexual desire that rises from inside his groins which, with help with other sources, contribute to the madness that leads him to murder one of the male characters who later gets served for dinner. Before all of this, frank had Janet and Brad stripped to their undergarments and sent to their separate dormitories. As the night progresses he enters each room disguised as the other and introduces each to a taste of blood that soon transforms them down the rabbit hole; Brad to the pleasure of the exploration of his sexuality and Janet to the pleasure of sex.
Janet the once prude, virginal American girl discovered a whole new world and couldn’t resist temptation much like Eve with the apple in the Garden of Eden. Except in this case the forbidden fruit would be Rocky Horror, the muscle sexy boy toy of God himself Frank-N-Furter who has specifically made it clear that the apple is off limits. Once she gets a taste of the forbidden and powerful taste of what Frank’s life is capable of, Janet is transformed into a sexual goddess once again where she describes her thrilling encounter with the forbidden fruit. “Touch-a touch-me. I wanna be dirty,” She screams on top of Rocky Horror; “Thrill me, chill me, and fulfill me, creature of the night.”
Janet Weiss can be a prime example of the Sexual Revolution that arose in the late 60’s early 70’s. During these times America was still looming over Vietnam and though the bell of hope and prosperity was ringing, America was still trying to piece itself together. In the 50’s, women were labeled as house wives, mothers, and nothing else. Their worth was labeled by how happy their kids and husband were at the end of the night. Mothers were told to involve themselves in the lives of their kids but not to suffocate them in fear that they might turn into homosexuals; to...
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