As the clock strikes midnight, the lights of the Prytania Theater — one of New Orleans’s premier independent movie theaters — begin to dim. Attendees dressed in everything from sweaters and jeans to fishnets and chokers take their seats. Painted on the faces of a first-time viewer is a bright red “V” — it stands for virgin.
This is just the beginning of the plethora of traditions and rituals associated with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a unique blend of horror film, musical and, of course, science fiction. Trying to explain “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is often difficult: a modern-day recreation of Frankenstein, it follows a young couple experiencing a thrilling and absurd night at the psycho-sexually liberal castle of the alien mad scientist, Dr. Frankenfurter (played by Tim Curry). Always adorned in fishnets, makeup and a flirtatious attitude, Frankenfurter allows the couple to view the creation of Rocky, a creature designed to be the perfect man. The film is filled with symbolism and critique of Western perceptions of sexuality, gender and what it means to be accepting of oneself. Although it was widely considered to be a critical failure upon release, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” quickly amassed the cult following that makes it a classic today.
What makes the viewings at the Prytania and venues across America so unique is the live shadow cast accompanying it. The Well-Hung Speakers is the cast in residence at the Prytania, performing alongside the beloved characters from the film and oftentimes adding their own special twists or jokes to accompany the dialogue. The audience will often shout along, commenting on the appearance of characters like the Criminologist — “what diabolical chicken walked on your forehead and stole your neck!” — and mocking the placement of a billboard in a graveyard. Attendees also come prepared with a bag of props, ranging from rice to toilet paper, which they throw around the theater in sync with cues from the film. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” draws a crowd of Tulane students every month, providing a home for people of all ages and backgrounds, and particularly for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Throughout its history, the Well-Hung Speakers have also boasted many performers who call Tulane home. Whether as actors or participants, Tulanians have had “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” ingrained within their culture, especially during the Halloween season. Tickets for the next show — which will take place on the Halloween night — are available on the Prytania’s website. Regardless of identity, if you want to conclude your Halloween night with an hour and a half of mirth, acceptance and “absolute pleasure,” there’s few better ways to do it than with the film — and performance — that has been alluring crowds for decades.
(Link to tickets: https://ticketing.us.veezi.com/purchase/1935?siteToken=4ezy0r06r835e9nb4xmf2tzkxr)