The "Time Warp" is returning to Mill Avenue courtesy of the Come As You Are cast at MadCap Theaters. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is now playing every Saturday night at 11 p.m. at the theater.
It all began in a small, 63-seat theater in London as “The Rocky Horror Show,” but has since become the longest running movie in history, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
In its first screenings however, the film failed. Its New York showing was canceled, and it was not until it began its life as a midnight movie that it began to develop a following.
Now a cult classic, it has returned to Mill Avenue where Matthew Yenkala and his Come As You Are cast are continuing to provide “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” experience for “Rocky” veterans and virgins alike.
Come As You Are has been performing in the Valley for nine years, and Yenkala feels he and his cast are providing a unique service to Arizona residents.
“‘Rocky’ kind of provides a community,” Yenkala said. “It’s a family of misfits, everyone is welcome.”
This attitude pervades every aspect of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The culture of “Rocky” is receptive to everyone. The whole experience is one of being comfortable in whatever skin you happen to be wearing — which is not necessarily the skin you were born in. Many people come as characters from the movie, dressed up in the theme of the night, or in whatever they can find.
Phillip Bloeman wore his girlfriend’s dress to the lingerie-themed show.
“It’s a good excuse to [dress up],” he said.
Come As You Are is more than just the name of the cast. This motto serves as an overriding theme, both in the movie itself and the screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at MadCap.
“Come As You Are is an umbrella,” said Zach Higgins the assistant director at MadCap. “It’s our cast motto, definitely. It’s come one and come all. It encompasses all the shows that we do.”
A unique facet of attending “Rocky Horror” is becoming a part of the movie simply by buying a ticket. The audience is encouraged to throw toast, squirt water and scream call backs, both vulgar and witty, at the screen. This practice started after “Rocky’s” release as a midnight movie and people began attending in costume.
Jacqueline Chikos, a sophomore at ASU and events director at “Rocky Horror” feels the audience participation contributes to the sense of family and community that “Rocky” offers.
“The audience participation is confusing to first timers but … after you’ve been coming a couple of weeks, you feel like part of the family,” she said. “You know what to say and when to say it. It feels good to be a part of that, it feels like you’re a part of something.”
Virgin sacrifices are another part of “Rocky Horror” not found at other movies. Before the movie begins and after the preshow is over, all the “virgins,” or people who have never been to a live showing of “Rocky” before, are brought up on stage. They are asked to say an oath, and then the under-18?s are sent off stage. Those who are left are asked to perform the virgin sacrifice. Some weeks it is a fake orgasm contest, some weeks it is lap dances, it’s always a surprise, especially for the virgins on stage.
As humiliating as the virgin sacrifice or audience participation might seem, “Rocky Horror” is welcoming to all.
“In this world of bullying and intolerance of people who are either GLBT or just different or whatever, ‘Rocky’ is a safe haven,” Yenkala said. “I wish all those kids that we’ve heard about in the news, I wish they had had a ‘Rocky’ to go to … maybe some of that stuff would never have happened.”
The word is slowly spreading about “Rocky Horror” on Mill Ave. After the Come As You Are’s Halloween show and the “Glee” television episode that featured the movie, attendance has begun to increase at MadCap.
“Halloween this year we had the ‘Glee’ episode [and] the 35th anniversary convention. There’s all kinds of attention focused on ‘Rocky,’” Yenkala said. “I knew that was going to be the push if we were ever going to have the chance to go weekly.”
Yenkala hopes to get the audience numbers back up to the number “Rocky Horror” experienced at their previous home, Chandler Cinemas.
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