Oh yeah...I was going to tell you about my time in the Rocky Horror Picture Show scene, wasn't I?
Of course it was Michelle who introduced me to this movie, because of course it was. Michelle, the everlastingly kinky, the determinedly weird, the girl who - upon having been caught by her daddy with an empty champagne bottle in her room at age 19 - merely whined: "But daaaaaaaad, I'm an artist!" in her own defense. (at which point I burst out laughing and could not stop - gee, I wonder why her dad didn't like me?)
Michelle had Rocky, newly released, on VHS. We tried to watch it at her house one night, but her mom found out and kicked us both out, along with the tape, because she didn't want "that filth" in her house. So we watched it at my house. Shortly after that, Michelle found a theater up in Allentown that showed it every Saturday night along with a live troupe who - I believe - referred to themselves as The Charming Underclothes. (for those of you who may not be aware, every Rocky Horror troupe name themselves after a line in the movie, and preferably a line spoken by Tim Curry, aka Dr. Frank N Furter, aka the gothic drag queen transexual superstar of the entire mutherfucking movie.) Michelle did not out me as a Virgin so I was able to enjoy the live spectacle without the humiliation of a very public onstage sacrifice. I immediately fell in love with the movie, the costumes, the midnight hour, the cult itself.
Michelle had a friend named Chuck who looked exactly like Tim Curry's Frank, albeit about a foot shorter. Michelle shocked me - as she often did - by volunteering to play goody two shoes Janet, and even went so far as to spray her black curls blonde. I insisted upon being Magenta because - simply and bluntly and very to the pointly - I wanted to fuck Riff Raff. Period. Every Saturday night for the better part of a year, Michelle, Chuck and myself made the hour long drive up to Allentown to participate in the ritual. I was living out my fantasy every Saturday night, Time Warping with various Riff Raffs who never introduced themselves, just sidled up beside me in the aisle and started dancing. I never turned them away. I danced, tits threatening to jiggle right out of my dress, rice embedded in my frizzy red halo of heavily sprayed hair. It was the ultimate Halloween Party, no matter the time of year. For two hours in a dark theater, surrounded by strangers in costume, we could do and be whatever we wanted without repercussions or guilt. It was harmless fun, and what happened in Transsexual stayed in Transsexual. I'd go home at 2am, wash the red dye out of my hair, peel off the fishnets, shake the rice out of my panties and leave Magenta behind. Until the following Saturday night.
I never do anything by halves. When I'm obsessed I'm obsessed all the way, from my first pelvic thrust to my last transit ray. I rediscovered Flash Gordon, a movie I had watched repeatedly when I was 11 when it was heavily looped on the movie channels. I now paid particular attention to the character of Fico, the Arborean piper and disdainful sidekick to Timothy Dalton's Prince Barin. Fico, who is apparently the only man in the galaxy who doesn't find the smokingly vixeny, creamy cherry flavored sex goddess Princess Aura at all attractive and doesn't understand his master's foolish infatuation with the lying bitch. And I - huge, antisocial geek that I was - started writing fan fiction before fan fiction was a common term. I came up with a female character who would be Fico's type. And no, I'm not going to reprint that incredibly retardo nerdshit here for you all to laugh at. I'll show it to O'Brien if he asks, but lets get real.
I didn't find out about Shock Treatment until almost 1993. Back then, it wasn't as easy as one might think to get your sticky little fangirl paws on copies of rare and obscure films. Home video was still in its infancy, DVDs did not exist and the internet was still a cyber-sperm dream in search of an egg. I tracked down a copy of Shock Treatment through a seedy little mom and pop video store, who had to special order it for me, and for which I paid almost 30 bucks after waiting the customary 4 to 6 weeks for shipment. Richard had never looked weirder - skeleton thin, Coke bottle glasses - but I didn't care. He was back! With Patricia and Nell and OMGWTF is that Rik Fucking Mayall? I had been a HUGE fan of The Young Ones back when MTV didn't suck and the Are You Being Served? brand of humor has run its course. Holy shit! Just HOLY SHIT! And Jessica fucking Harper? I exploded and died and melted into a candy colored puddle of sticky sweet goo. I wanted to be jumping like a real live wire in a strapless, backless, classical little black dress. Let's face it Mac, that basic black is coming back.
Along came 1998. I was living in a new city with new friends and hadn't been to a RHPS midnight show in years. My ass had outgrown the French Maids uniform and my stamina had faded to the point where an 8pm bedtime seemed a glorious luxury. I had seen Alex Proyas's The Crow several years earlier and was anticipating the release of his new film Dark City, due out just in time for my 28th birthday. And holy shit, Richard O'Brien was in it. As bald and cadaverous and sleazopervoriffic as always. I demanded to be taken to see it as a birthday gift and got my wish. I loved the neo-noir, sleazy, gritty cityscapes, the eternal darkness, the urban decay meets Alice In Wonderland meets Metropolis, all stuttering neon and dirty shadows and spiraling madness. And most of all I loved the Strangers - a hive mind of gangster like ghosts who, despite their uniformity, had produced a rebel in the shape of the suggestively named Mr. Hand, a gaunt spectre with a wicked purr and a lopsided leer filled with sexual menace. He is good guy John's shadow, filled with all of the violence and perversity that John lacks. And his eagerness to penetrate both Melissa George and Jennifer Connolly with long, rigid instruments, smiling all the while, speaks volumes about repressed sexual desires and the dangers of dispensing Viagra willy-nilly (pun probably intended).
And then later that same year, more Richard again! He was everywhere, all over the place, in your face, finally and at long last claiming his rightful place amongst the slickest and most debonair villains ever to grace the screens. Now he was stalking Drew Barrymore in the updated Cinderella story Ever After, not so subtly insinuating his intentions to deflower the virgin Queen to be, homing in on the teenage girl like a randy lion creeping up behind a wounded gazelle. He oozed sex from every pore. His intentions were not merely to fuck Drew, he was going to make her like it as well. He was convinced of his prowess, steadfastly sure of his virility. Little Drew would not only learn to enjoy his rapes, she would beg him for more. One has to wonder just how realistically hair-raising Barrymore found her scenes with O'Brien to be. Surely his presence pressed in upon her, suffocatingly lewd. He's not a very tall man, not a terribly big man, but his shadow, his aura, is a galaxy in its own right. It swallows light whole. I've been a fan of Drew's almost as long as I've been a fan of Richard's, so I could not help but cringe for her. But I also envied her. Is that sick? I don't care. I want him to casually back me up against a wall and tell me all the things he plans to do to me, and then wait for me to beg him to proceed. I don't give a fuck that he's 73 now. I'd fuck him in a heartbeat. Him, John Hurt, Christopher Walken...members all of the GILF club: Geezers I'd Like to Fuck.
Because, like the world he created in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the world of Richard O'Brien seems a safe outlet for your every sordid fantasy. Hunchbacked handyman, Pan-piping treeman, twisted dream merchant, mad scientist, vulgar French nobleman or child catching pervert...oh wait, didn't you know about that last one? Oh yeah, Chitty Chitty Mutherfucking Bang Bang, baby. And O'Brien played the steampunked, lecherously snakelike, Truly Scrumptious cherry popping dandy candyman Child Catcher, ten times creepier and more alluring than Marilyn Manson and Willy Wonka combined. He's a pied piper, leading the way into a sinful fairy tale, a garden of Eden filled with decadence and frivolity and sweet, honeyed sex. O'Brien is as much a cult classic as his Rocky Horror: ageless, androgynous, sinuously feminine, overpoweringly masculine, magically blurred and multifaceted. He is the candy shop, the gingerbread house, the carnival funhouse and the bacchanalian orgy all in one. You get the feeling that he is the world you could walk into and do everything you've ever wanted to do, all without shame or judgement or consequences. He's the tour guide, the ticket seller and the master of ceremonies. And he makes it all - no matter how dark or lurid or politically incorrect - seem like innocent fun. That's his power and his legacy. And I would come running if he crooked his little finger at me, the wicked, dirty bastard.