That's me in the fishnets
June 4, 2010 1:13 PM   Subscribe

A late 70's report by an St. Louis news crew on the "Rocky Horror" phenomenon. Briefly interviewed is a pre-R.E.M. Michael Stipe, in full Frank-n-furter regalia.
posted by anazgnos (69 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, that's hilarious. We just don't get newscasts anymore talking about the culture clash between the countercultures and the squares with such outrage. This might be progress. At least it's indicative of increased tolerance.
posted by hippybear at 1:20 PM on June 4, 2010


Is this from the Lost Golden Age of Journalism that we're always hearing about?

My favorite lines: These people, like the movie, want to shock and repulse you. I forget sometimes that alongside the "wild 70's" was a deep, judgmental conservatism.
posted by kanewai at 1:21 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


We just don't get newscasts anymore talking about the culture clash between the countercultures and the squares with such outrage. This might be progress. At least it's indicative of increased tolerance.

Well, there's the whole baggy pants thing. But I guess if yesteryear's counterculture folks don't think it's cool, it doesn't count.
posted by The World Famous at 1:22 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


We just don't get newscasts anymore talking about the culture clash between the countercultures and the squares with such outrage.

Um. Have you seen any Metafilter threads about hipsters?
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:25 PM on June 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


This reminds me of when a couple of us watched "Repo Man" for the first time in two decades. It was still a great movie, but the punky kids setting all the straights on edge had, at worst, one earring and Manic Panic hair dye. These days, shop clerk with full sleeve tattoos and facial piercings look more threatening than that, and they're not really threatening at all.
posted by ardgedee at 1:30 PM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ian A.T.: "We just don't get newscasts anymore talking about the culture clash between the countercultures and the squares with such outrage.

Um. Have you seen any Metafilter threads about hipsters?
"

Are the hipsters supposed to be the counterculture or the squares in this example?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 1:31 PM on June 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


The look sort of works on him, but with his lanky frame I think he'd be more fetching in a strapless, backless, classical little black dress.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:31 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


My wife and I and a bunch of friends caught RHPS in DC, Halloween 2003. I'd been a bunch as a teen, but there were LOTS of virgins there who got mad at us for talking during the film; they really got mad when a guy (not in our group) pulled out a Super-Soaker. While my costume was merely OK, the MrsMoonPie's getup was disturbingly accurate, down to the stubble.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:32 PM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I went to Rocky Horror in the 70s, and I didn't want to 'shock or repulse' anyone. I just wanted to have fun. Geez lighten up St Louis.
posted by Some1 at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2010


Um. Have you seen any Metafilter threads about hipsters?

You kids keep kicking the seat and I'm turning this thread around and we're all going home.
posted by griphus at 1:34 PM on June 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


For my birthday later this month, my girlfriend is making a long-standing dream of mine come true and getting a bunch of my friends together to dress up and do Rocky in SF.

And REM played a huge role in my growing up.

Therefore this is relevant to my interests. Thanks!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


the MrsMoonPie's getup was disturbingly accurate, down to the stubble.

Holy crap that rules!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:38 PM on June 4, 2010


Shock and repulse? Relax, it's all part of life's rich pageant.
posted by davebush at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's amazing this was found. How many fan hands did it pass through?
posted by jscott at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Relax, it's all part of life's rich pageant.

The insurgency began and I missed it.
posted by The World Famous at 1:47 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chill me, thrill me, fulfill me, shiny happy creature of the night?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:48 PM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


If yer here for the Michael Stipe angle, do yourself a favour and read Butt Magazine's interview with him MICHAEL STIPE NON-GAY QUEER POPSTAR FROM R.E.M. COLLECTS SUGAR PACKETS AND WAS DEVIRGINISED AT AGE SEVEN. They do great interviews.
posted by Nelson at 1:50 PM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


with his lanky frame I think he'd be more fetching in a strapless, backless, classical little black dress.

you obviously forgot this link.
posted by hippybear at 1:53 PM on June 4, 2010


Wooo! Sweet Meat!! Fuckin' K-SHE, Man!!! Far out!!!
posted by chillmost at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2010


..Ahem.
posted by chillmost at 1:55 PM on June 4, 2010


Huh, I had no idea that Michael Stipe had ever lived in STL. You would have thought this would have come up during my time in high school, what with all the REM fans we had, but that was the early '90s and the Internet only had Douglas Adams quotes on it back then.
posted by tss at 1:59 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This brought back great memories of my junior year in high school, 1978. The UA theater at the local mall started midnight showings of Rocky Horror every Saturday night. My mind was blown the first time I saw the movie, yet there wasn't a ton of audience participation initially... but that built every week. The theater manager would offer my friend and I free tickets to the next week's showing if we helped clean up, so I ended up seeing the movie about eighteen times. And then it was over. Every week things got a little crazier, with people bringing in more and more props like cards and toast and newspapers and whatever, but it all came to a head when someone threw a raw egg at the screen which exploded in a big gooey starburst... the movie stopped, the lights came up and the employees threw everyone out. My friend who worked there said the manager was livid as the screen was incredibly expensive and he naturally didn't want it damaged.

For the next 15 years when you watched a movie in that last theater down the hall, you could still see where the Rocky Horror Picture Show Egg had left it's mark.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 2:02 PM on June 4, 2010


Awesome. I came to St. Louis a little too late to ever have seen the Varsity Theater in action, but I found this picture of it from 1985.
posted by invitapriore at 2:06 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ron Thanagar: that reminds me of why NMSU stopped doing RHPS showings in the mid-to-late '80s... A friend of mine took a lighter and a can of hairspray and did this huge flamethrower thing during "There's A Light (Over At The Frankenstein Place)". The management of the Corbett Center ballrooms let us finish the movie, but I don't think they ran the movie again there as long as I lived in Las Cruces.
posted by hippybear at 2:10 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it just me who doesn't get what's all the fuss with RHPS? I swear I tried.
posted by falameufilho at 2:35 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a bunch of fucking dorks.
posted by wcfields at 2:37 PM on June 4, 2010


Is it just me who doesn't get what's all the fuss with RHPS? I swear I tried.

Basically, here's all there is to get: Acting stupid with friends is fun.
posted by The World Famous at 2:39 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is it just me who doesn't get what's all the fuss with RHPS? I swear I tried.

With a skilled group of audience members who know their shit, the audience participation really adds a meta-layer to the movie which creates value rather than distracting. Like one of the best 10 episodes of MST3K, the sum of the parts elevates the experience someplace far above your typical movie showing or group of snarky friends commenting on a film.

That said, I went to a showing here in Spokane not too long ago, and the people there were pretty mundane with their audience participation. They lacked a lot of the best lines, or had weak ones which detracted from the overall effect. It's not about just shouting at the screen and throwing things during the show. It's about achieving a synthesis during a live showing. They don't seem to quite grok that, and I won't be going back unless I can get a posse together to practice and really blow them out of the water.
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Asshole!
posted by pracowity at 2:53 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


falameufilho: The movie by itself is no great shakes.

I saw it a dozen or so times in the early 80s, in Chicago, where there was a big crowd that was really into it, everybody hollering all the response lines. That was fun. Decades later, I watched it at home, on video. That was kind of sad. It was like listening to stereo with one channel dropped out.

What made the movie special was that, mostly by accident, it became the locus for subcommunities of freaks and weirdos in every city where it showed. Something to focus their energy on and a place to meet like-minded people (remember, this is before the Internet could draw together every person interested in every obscure pursuit). I never got that into it, but I knew some folk who did.
posted by adamrice at 2:54 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Slut!
posted by pracowity at 2:56 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


there were LOTS of virgins there who got mad at us for talking during the film

Wow. I mean, talk about missing the point. That's...I don't even know what to do with that. Who would go watch such a crap movie to sit there and watch it?

then again I think Shock Treatment is a grand movie so what do I know
posted by davejay at 3:06 PM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't think the Varsity was still around in '85, which makes me think that picture is from nigh unto the end (but we got a rapidly out of business Phar-Mor out of the deal so, uh, Yay us! please smother me with a pillow.)

For the time he was in the area Mr. Stipe actually lived on the Illinois side in Collinsville, home of the World's Largest Catsup Bottle, an assload of horseradish and, well, me.

This gives me arcane Michael Stipe trivia knowledge like he once worked at the Waffle House on Hwy 157 and that somewhere along the line, he and a friends brother stole all my friend's Halloween candy, so we had great fun pretending to hold a deep grudge over this and to despise everything REM ever did.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I enjoy the movie without a hint of irony and watch it at home sometimes, alone, as if I were watching any other movie. The silliness of seeing it at the theatre is just a bonus.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:27 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


The movie, like these people, wants to "shock you - repulse you," as one lady put it. Particularly if you're a redneck.

First, is the reporter saying the last part, or just continuing a quote of the aforementioned "lady"? Second, is the use of the word redneck supposed to be flattering or derisive?
Third, never understood the attraction to the RHPS, but to each his own.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2010


I was young and dumb when that movie began its run at the Waverly theater in the Village. Several of my friends and I ended up being asked to do security when homophobes began harrassing people on line and damaging the theater. We'd get there early, keep an eye on things when the line formed and waited until the manager (an older German lady who just didn't get the whole thing) left.

I'd guess that I have seen Rocky Horror about 300 times.

I still love it.
posted by Splunge at 3:32 PM on June 4, 2010


Slut!

Asshole!

(Hey, Riff--how do you say Jell-O in Spanish?
"Hello."
Brad, are you drunk or high?
"Hi!")

Mr. Bad Example, veteran of over a hundred showings and former cast member...I played Dr. Scott.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was left wondering if that was Stipe's real hair--if he had that classic Framptonesque white-boy perm, he would have been more suited to playing Jesus in Godspell (a la Victor Garber) than Frank N. Furter. At least, the thought of him doing some of the numbers in Godspell amuses me more.

As far as RHPS in general goes, I think that it's like a lot of cult movies in that it has a lot of good material in it (and some great actors), but indifferent-to-outright-crappy directing. I saw it a few times at the Biograph in Chicago (the same theater that Dillinger was shot down near), and it was much fun. By now, though, I think that the regulars have been whittled down to a few people that have added audience response lines on top of lines on top of lines, and say snotty things if you don't follow their script exactly, or at least that was my experience the last time I went. Oh, well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:44 PM on June 4, 2010


Wait a minute is this one of those jokes...must be a redneck if you are shocked and repulsed by the denziens of the RHPS.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2010


Wait a minute is this one of those jokes...must be a redneck if you are shocked and repulsed by the denziens of the RHPS.

Yes, Rocky Horror is one big Jeff Foxworthy joke.
posted by The World Famous at 4:20 PM on June 4, 2010


Seeing the Blue Öyster Cult logo on Stipe's jacket and thinking about REM's sound, I thought:

"Aha! That explains...nothing."
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 4:21 PM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I went to a showing here in Spokane not too long ago, and the people there were pretty mundane with their audience participation.

I saw a live show once and the theater had plants in the audience yelling out pre-set comments. They also passed out props, with instructions on when to use them. Outside props were not allowed.

It ruined the spontaneity and creativity of the moment. It was so tone deaf, so completely 'they don't get it,' so square, that it made it awkward and embarrassing for any of us to actually participate.

It was like when an emcee encourages the crowd to go woo-hoo! and makes you do it over and over until you get it right and really show that you're having fun. It's not real fun, it's just the noise of a bunch of people having fun.

- And add me to the list who can enjoy Rocky Horror without irony! The songs and characters still hold up pretty damn well, IMHO.
posted by kanewai at 5:20 PM on June 4, 2010


Metafilter: Yes, Rocky Horror is one big Jeff Foxworthy joke.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:47 PM on June 4, 2010


The thread title here is win.
posted by koeselitz at 5:57 PM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Next up: Leonard Cohen in foam-rubber Hedwig hair.
posted by rokusan at 6:27 PM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


MrsMoonPie's getup was disturbingly accurate
Holy, you're not joking. Uncanny. Great make-up and she even sort of resembles Tim Curry.
posted by chococat at 6:27 PM on June 4, 2010


I saw it a dozen or so times in the early 80s, in Chicago, where there was a big crowd that was really into it, everybody hollering all the response lines. That was fun.

I saw it once and it was an experience. For me it was like sitting through a Catholic service for the first time. Some people wearing weird costumes, a bunch of songs, and you feel out of place because everyone but you knows what to say and do and when. Oh, and you're celebrated for being a virgin.
posted by Kirk Grim at 6:36 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rocky Horror would be nothing without audience partici...
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:38 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just had an "OH GODDAMN IS THAT DICK FORD?" moment.

RHPS was a big deal in St. Louis, for quite some time. My high school's theater gang loved it. Going to the show was one of those St. Louis Things You Just Did. Bigger than a visit to the Arch. As a teenage rite of passage, it fell somewhere between getting your driver's license and having sex if you were not of the Izod-wearing popped collar crowd. "Magenta or Columbia?" was a question some boys tossed back and forth about hypothetical dating scenarios as a shorthand. Rocky was a reason for suburban kids to finally go into the city, even if it was only U-City.

The conservatism isn't just a parallel seventies, it's also a deep part of St. Louis, which is more like a town drawn on an uninflated balloon, then blown up to city size, than an actual urban area with a great deal of weirdness. The crack about KSHE T-shirts is almost prophetic; "classic rock" absolutely dominated the airwaves until the mid-eighties, holding strong until the mid-nineties. The KSHE types strangely expected that Led Zeppelin would be what we would listen to forever. For a generation who prided themselves on breaking away from their parents, they were intent on keeping the status quo, and in St. Louis, that meant Busch beer, lawn chairs, and 94.7 FM. Rocky was roughly as suspicious as Dungeons & Dragons. This might be the most alternative thing you would do as a teenager or someone in their twenties.

You know what they're trying to do now in St. Louis? Repo: The Genetic Opera, costumes and all.
posted by adipocere at 8:00 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, there are still people who've never gotten high out of their heads and done the full-on screaming Rocky Horror experience? I'm stunned.

I swear I tried.

Perhaps trying was the problem.
posted by mediareport at 8:05 PM on June 4, 2010


The Rocky Horror soundtrack was my favourite album when I was about 4. I had no idea what the songs were about, but a 4 year old singing Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me is probably a tad bit creepy now I think about it. RHPS remains one of my favourite movies though.
posted by Kris10_b at 8:17 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, there are still people who've never gotten high out of their heads and done the full-on screaming Rocky Horror experience? I'm stunned.

It's possibly even worse...last year during Mardi Gras, I was in some French Quarter bar at some point and "Time Warp" came on the juke box and I jumped up and started dancing the Time Warp with two perfect strangers. ...And they were impressed because "Wow, you actually know how the dance goes!" ...I was full of a little too much drunken good will to think to sass them back about, "well...the lyrics actually tell you how."

I can see people not knowing the full pantheon of audience participation, but not knowing the Time Warp? That just feels wrong.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


He ate in my restaurant last night.
posted by newpotato at 8:45 PM on June 4, 2010


Oh, wow, the crowd never changes. Also, the expression of the hosts is about on par with that of my high school theater director, when I came back from college and he asked if I'd done any theater and I said, "Sure! I'm Dr Scott!"

The fact that Rocky, one of the few films to have something like this associated with it, kept me from going crazy. I don't want to get into the details, since it's kind of unusual and complicated, but at the time I went to college, I had a very, very bad association with the film. I saw a poster to join a cast, and something inside me told me that this was the chance to re-make those associations. (It was, I should note, an all-female cast, being a women's college.)

By the second semester, there's no leaving. I've made amazing and kind of weird friends, mostly upperclasswomen, and they aren't judging me. How could they? We're all freaks. The first Frank I know is a tiny, genderqueer writer whose first words to me, spoken from lying on the ground, are 'I like your boots.'

The next year, we've recruited one of the international students who has connections to the student finance group and we actually get funding. She is over six feet tall and from the West Indies, and she eventually becomes our new Frank. I spend summers making props and sourcing different types of gold fabric for costumes.

Senior year, one of the sporadic wild-fires that must consume a club has commenced, and I actually get bored. I realize this is some kind of psychological progress. I've made friends for life. I was in the wedding of Frank #2 (librarian) and she forbid all chicken- or macarena-type dances - except all of us who had been in the casts and were there? We all Time Warped.

I went to a production of RHPS at, of all places, Mohegan Sun last year. We were sitting in the 'people who don't get it' section. Instinct took over. I was the only person on the left doing call-backs or dancing. People left! Good riddance! I've never bothered getting involved in a bigger scene; I don't want to deal with cattiness again, and I know it can be endemic to casts. But I'll go when I find a good theater, and I'll yell along with them - even my stupid callbacks that were school-specific, and I'll dance a mad dance and I'll get to re-experience that moment when I really got better and felt like I was soaring above the old, victim-me.

And in grad school, man, that's a hell of a way to discuss and understand the anthropological idea of performance as ritual.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:37 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's funny, I really thought this was gonna be more of a "how crazy is it that they would happen to catch a pre-famous Michael Stipe in these circumstances" thread than a "how much do y'all love Rocky Horror" thread.
posted by anazgnos at 11:44 PM on June 4, 2010


We just don't get newscasts anymore talking about the culture clash...

Teabaggers! Eccccccch, they're like the 60s on benzedrine and moonshine!
posted by Twang at 12:07 AM on June 5, 2010


...pation!
posted by chococat at 12:18 AM on June 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


consti ...
posted by Twang at 12:34 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's funny, I really thought this was gonna be more of a "how crazy is it that they would happen to catch a pre-famous Michael Stipe in these circumstances" thread

Maybe because it's not all that surprising that, in a room full of Rocky Horror people, a guy who later became a professional showman was there, he pushed himself to the front of the crowd, and he was charismatic and photogenic enough that they went for him and used the tape.

Here's teenage David Bowie making sure he gets on television by organizing and fronting the stunty Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men. It's a load of bollocks but he got his lovely face and voice on the television.

Here's Pete Doherty getting on television (and milking it) while waiting to buy an Oasis album. He's totally relaxed, he has a quotable line ready, and he immediately impresses the presenter as being suitable for show business.

Look at me!
posted by pracowity at 1:40 AM on June 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


WTF? I swear the presenter in the David Bowie video says "the worms are turning"... isn't that a Dune reference? Is he a time traveler or something?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:46 AM on June 5, 2010


It's funny, I really thought this was gonna be more of a "how crazy is it that they would happen to catch a pre-famous Michael Stipe in these circumstances" thread than a "how much do y'all love Rocky Horror" thread.

That may be because there isn't much to say about "how crazy is it they caught Michael Stipe," other than, "...huh. Yeah, pretty crazy."

Or that far more of us have had personal experiences with RHPS than have had personal experiences with Michael Stipe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 AM on June 5, 2010


Meatbomb, turning worms is an expression that goes back to the 16th century. Shakespeare's bit from Henry VI is pretty great
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.
posted by Nelson at 6:17 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Things I love more than Michael Stipe: THESE THINGS DO NOT EXIST.

Thanks for this thread. And the linked interview from BUTT was pretty damn awesome - when was it from? I'm not seeing any dates on it. (I need to know for... well, no, I don't. I don't need that information at all.)

And yes: I've been to RHPS. Twice. I'm neutral about it. Fun times, but I wouldn't go out of my way to do to the time warp. Also: some shows use extra lighting effects thus rendering my opinion moot as I have to leave anyway.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:25 AM on June 5, 2010


Hmm. I'm from St. Louis. My father has relayed memories of going to the Varsity Theater in high school, and used to take us down to the Parkmoor before those fuckers closed it and put up a Walgreens which I now own stock in, but still.

But the first time I ever saw Rocky Horror was, sadly, in my parents' living room. My father seemed to think it was essential that I saw it, I guess—but thought it best that I see it at home. Pretty anticlimactic.
posted by limeonaire at 2:06 PM on June 5, 2010


Hah. limeonaire, I'm watching RHPS with my daughter, right now, in my living room.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:47 PM on June 5, 2010



Thanks for this thread. And the linked interview from BUTT was pretty damn awesome - when was it from? I'm not seeing any dates on it.


Wikipedia says it's from 2004.
posted by anazgnos at 8:55 PM on June 5, 2010


but thought it best that I see it at home. Pretty anticlimactic.

Now there's yer problem.
posted by Splunge at 9:05 PM on June 6, 2010


I have never understood why RHPS got released on video. It needs to be seen in a theatre, late at night, with a cast, props and, perhaps, a pipe or two going around.
posted by QIbHom at 12:30 PM on June 8, 2010


I think it's on video so you can re-enact the crazy in the privacy of your friend's house when you can't get a theater.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2010


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