Wednesday, May 26, 2004


getting *YAWN* political again

So this story on Fark about Sarin gas allegedly being found in Iraq was accompanied by a snide dig at Michael Moore fans. But we're not here to talk about that guy right now.

Instead, I'll concede that I'm willing to accept the basic details of the story--once I've seen a few more details. Out of whose ass did they pull this shell? And out of the umptillion shells there must be over there, how do they know to test this one for Sarin? Do they test them all, or did someone ask, "hey, does this smell Sariny to you?"

If you expect me to find these magical-holy-grail-chemical-weapons turned up, I wanna see more than fifty-seven words. I want names, I want places, I want dates. Do some fucking journalism, people.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


The balloon has gone up

Today I mailed my application for Canadian Permanent Residency. Will keep you informed as to progress. As you were.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Does anyone know why (the fuck) blogger refuses to let me copy-and-paste text?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, May 24, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 7: Have You Met God's Son Steve? His Ears Don't

You get a gaggle of geeks together on a regular basis,
they're going to come up with all kinds of inside
jokes. Of course, there'd be the usual assortment of
quotes from Monty Python, John Hughes films, Star
, and Red Dwarf. But then there'd be the REALLY
esoteric stuff, the weird shit that would just issue
forth from the mouths of those affected by sleep-deprivation
and Mountain Dew. In honor of the old gang,
I present the following random sampling of
inside jokes from my Rocky Horror Days.

POCKET CHEESE: From the days of the Lewis and Clark
cast: a packet of parmesan cheese, preferably from the
Pizza Haven at Seattle Center (though Sea-Tac Mall was
acceptable), to be kept in the pocket of one's coat at
all times. One person would take out their pocket
cheese and begin shaking it, at which point all
conversation would cease, as everyone had to join in
shaking their pocket cheese. After a "Hand Check"
(where you drop the packet and hold up both hands, to
show everyone that you HAVE both hands), conversation
would resume as if nothing had happened.

NOTHINGNESS: To be said by a succession of people,
each one taking a part of the phrase. The "ickno"
part was a line from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, that
someone said one night at a party. Someone else
responded with "ickyes" and it built from there.

LOBSTERS: Ever play the Star Wars Pants game? This
was kind of the same thing: just take a well-known
sentence and replace one (or more) of the words with

"It seemed a fairly ordinary Lobsters, when Brad
Lobsters and his Lobsters, Janet Lobsters..."

The moment of overkill came when I posted to a local
BBS with a parody of the opera section of "Bohemian
Rhapsody," with "Lobsters" as damn near every other
word. After that, it was just too much.

DROP THE SPOON: A handy way to check for
under-the-table shenanigans at the diner after the
show. Want to know if Jeni's giving Mike a handjob?
Drop the spoon! Is Rich wearing underwear? Drop the

WATER-LOTS OF IT: From a video John and I made when
Danetta moved to Kentucky. We were showing things
they have in Tacoma that they don't have in Kentucky,
and that was one of them. Sure, they have some
water-but we have lots of it!

GABE: It was a tradition after the show to go to a
diner. Usually one of the many Denny's (such as the
Forgotten Denny's, or the Denny's At The Center Of The
Universe) that Tacoma had to offer, but
occasionally we would shake things up by going to the
less common, but slightly better quality, Shari's. It
was one night at Shari's that we were served by Gabe,
the king of all waiters. Tall, blond, thin, and clean,
Gabe was the lust object of all the girls in the cast,
which was a bit of a waste of time, really. Think about
it. Thin? Clean? I had a better chance with Gabe
than any girl.

I could share more with you, but I'm afraid I've
overtaxed the patience of the three of you who
actually read this entire section. I'll just stop
now, and leave you wondering what (the fuck) a
"winking wicky-aid appliance" is.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Thursday, May 20, 2004




Ibi da?

Sometimes, the world turns out to be just as fascinating as you always knew it could be, thanks to the actions of one person. Tinkyewveddymuch.

Monday, May 17, 2004


Yesterday's Tomorrow - Today!

For years, Disneyland fans have dreamed of a "Yesterland Pavilion" inside the park, with VR recreations of defunct rides like Adventure Through Inner Space or the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. Well, Der Maus has no plans for such a thing, so some fans are taking it on themselves.

The Adventure Through Inner Space Project and Virtual Toad are CG recreations of these beloved rides, slowly being handcrafted by fans in their spare time. They've put enormous amounts of effort into these labors of love, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

I'd like to see more projects like this. Someone has to keep the memory alive of how Disneyland used to be, especially with the current management seemingly determined to run the place like a frickin' frackin' Six Flags.

Plus, I have a fantasy of buying a used Atommobile, mounting it on a gimbal, and being able to ride ATIS at home whenever I want.

ATIS got hit with an extra bandwidth bill after being linked to by the excellent Danny's Land, though I don't think my link will cause a similar problem.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Friday, May 14, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 6: The Man Who Began It

By spring of 1991 there was a definite sense of changes in the air. Our ever-evolving cast, christened “the Absolute Pleasure Ensemble,” had lost and gained members, some people had changed roles, and there were new regulars in the audience. To John, then, the time seemed right to announce that he was leaving.


This was big news. Though I’ve since had a falling out with the man, I can still say without exaggeration that John had been the star around which we all orbited. He had brought the cast together through the force of his outsized personality.

For a while, I had been looking for a bigger part. Eddie was a good part; I frequently got applause for my entrance, and I gotta say, I OWNED that part. But after that I had to spend the rest of the movie as Dr. Scott, who was second only to the Criminologist as the most boring character in the movie. I wanted more, so I quickly called dibs on playing Brad.

The next question was, who would take over the preshow? Though many of us had quick bits, the Ceremonies still needed a Master. That issue more or less solved itself; in the eyes of most the crowd, the preshow was performed by the Guy In The Brad Costume.

Well, okay. I enjoyed being up on stage. John had established a good template for the preshow. And I was still young and naïve enough to believe that I was good at improv. So the preshow was mine.

I shied away from the question of who would be cast leader, though. I was there to perform, not to have to make decisions. I figured (again, young and naïve) that we were all there to do a good show, and everything else would work itself out.

My first night was a blast. John, in his Brad costume, began the preshow with the standard “Gimme an R!” chant, then thanked everyone for the great times. He then turned and welcomed me as the new Brad. I stepped out in my new Brad costume (complete with the plaid tie and cummerbund—hey, I took this seriously!) and jumped right into the virgin ceremony.

In an effort to put my own stamp on the show, I introduced a new game that was used for years after I left. Yes, the one, the only, the world famous, America’s Favorite Game Show…


As I went down the line of virgins, some would get the classics—dirty nicknames, “Ring Around The Virgins,” and, of course, Tom—but some of the girls would be directed to stand to one side for “something very special.” Once we had at least three contestants, I would announce the name of the game, which would elicit enthusiastic applause from the audience—and, on a good night, a mix of laughter and embarrassment from the virgins.

Each contestant would be asked to, yes, fake an orgasm. Sometimes they would flat-out refuse—those were usually Video Virgins, or girls who were dragged along unwillingly by a friend. But most would have fun with it, and put some effort into it. And once in a while, there’d be a girl who REALLY wanted to win; there are few things more satisfying to a Rocky Horror MC than being jumped on by a screaming virgin.

The main thing I remember from my first night as Brad was the seduction scene. Being sadly lacking in stage props (things like the lab control panel were usually played by a little dude we called Fencepost), the would lie on the floor behind a sheer blanket, and Danetta, as Frank, would kneel next to them and simulate Tim Curry’s movements. Imagine my surprise, then, when Danetta came strutting up to me, kicked my feet open, and knelt between my legs, to John’s anguished cry of, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

The rest of the night was kind of a blur after that.

Dena and Danetta left not long after John. The group dynamic had already been changing before I took over as Brad, and within a few weeks it seemed like a whole different crowd.

My Janet was a thirtysomething real-estate saleswoman named Patty. Though most of us were not even old enough to drink (or even to smoke, in a few cases) Patty’s age was not a factor; she could throw down with the best of us, and many nights we all went to her house after the show.

Mike, a longtime audience member, bore a passing resemblance to Heathers-era Christian Slater, which he cultivated into a lifestyle. Mike played various parts, usually playing Riff Raff when Chris was off at college.

Leah would get shuttled between family members, occasionally ending up with her Mom in California. Our Magenta during those times was Dawn, who I didn’t realize at the time was Chris’ ex-girlfriend. I remained unaware until Chris, who had been away at college, announced he was coming back for the summer, and Dawn (nickname: Moo) went around telling everyone who would listen that, “Chris is coming back! Chris loves me!”

Another acquaintance of Chris, who fit in a bit better, was his high school friend Gannon. Gannon became the new Eddie, and had a slight edge over me in that he could actually play the saxophone.

Gannon as Eddie: A Greaser From the Freezer Like A Bat Out Of Hell

We also got along well with Steve, the new Rocky, though he was a bit intense; visitors to his home would be shown his Rocky Horror collection, and his collection of rare Who albums, and finally a gas mask taken from a dead Iraqi soldier.

Yes, we were a new crowd, with a new attitude from the old Absolute Pleasure Ensemble. That’s why, by the time Halloween approached (and with it the first anniversary of the show’s arrival at Lincoln Plaza) we needed a new name. I can’t remember who came up with the new name, but since I’m the one telling the story, I’m gonna take the damn credit.

Our new name, I decided, would be…The Back Row.

Gyeni as Columbia, Leah as Magenta, Valerie as Frank, Chris as Riff Raff

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 5: Trouble and Seat Wetting

As I’ve said, people go to Rocky Horror for a number of reasons; for the music, for the chance to yell and scream like a dang fool, to find like-minded people. But, for red-blooded males like us, there’s one factor that can’t be ignored, and that factor is…young girls running around in kinky underwear.

It’s shallow, I know, and a bit dirty to be talking about at my age. But come on, there I was, twenty years old, hormones in full swing, surrounded by acres of female flesh of all ages, shapes and sizes, in various states of undress.

During my time as Eddie I spent every Friday and Saturday night dancing with a girl in hot pants and fishnets, tossing her up in the air and having her come down and wrap her legs around my waist, at which point I would throw her down on the floor and…well, you’ve seen the movie. Later, as Dr. Scott during the floor show, Janet would often plunk her teddy-clad self on my lap in my wheelchair. During the double-butt shot when Rocky carries Frank up the tower, when the audience would yell “two best seats in the house!” I would fire back with, “yeah, I’m sitting in one and the other’s sitting on me!”

You’d have Janet, starting out in her innocent little pink skirt and quickly stripping down to her (charming) underclothes. Columbia, in those cute little pajamas and Mickey Mouse ears. And for me, with my thing for redheads and my thing for French maid costumes—there’s Magenta!

And many of the male characters would also be played by females. When Danetta first appeared as Frank, John and I turned to each other and mouthed a silent “oh my god.” The Neptune has a long tradition of girls as Rocky; better not to ask why, but there’s just something about a sexy girl wrapped up like a mummy.

And on top of that, you’d have an audience full of girls gothing themselves up, donning floorshow costumes, some just getting out of their rainbows and unicorns phase, others already in full-on slut mode. I’d be trying to get through the floorshow, and there’d be Dagmar (yes, that was really her name) slowly unbuttoning her white blouse, deliberately trying to distract me.

Of course, not all women at Rocky were goddesses of lust. For every 16-year-old trying out her first garter belt, there’d be Pauline or Miss Hell. For every repressed housewife, getting in touch with her inner slut by playing Janet (and hitting on Brad), there’d be…Pauline or Miss Hell.

Understand, this has nothing to do with their size. There were other girls there who were much larger than Pauline or Miss Hell, and who still set my heart aflutter when I think of them. No, a skank is a skank, no matter their size or shape. And they were skanks.

There was a postscript, of sorts, to their involvement in this saga. When Rocky came to Lincoln Plaza, Pauline was in a magical, fireworks-in-the-sky relationship with a guy named Eric. When their eternal, holy and pure bond fell apart after three months, guess who was there to pick up the pieces?

Make no mistake; there was no heat between Eric and Miss Hell. No fireworks, no chemistry, no spark. Miss Hell stayed with Eric for one reason, and one reason only: to keep Pauline from getting him back.

Pauline who relished any excuse for a breakdown, began showing up every weekend, often drunk, and progressively more unstable. One night, while playing Columbia, she changed the line “you’ve gotta choose between me and Rocky,” to “me and Michelle,” at which point I walked off the stage. Well, rolled my wheelchair off.

As for Miss Hell and Eric, their eternal, holy and pure love ended the weekend the New Kids On The Block played the Tacoma Dome. That was when she invited him to join her at the hotel room she rented next to the dome, in hopes of getting to interact with her idols (three of whom, remember, she had slept with). A hotel room she paid for by stealing Eric’s dad’s credit card.

But Pauline and Miss Hell didn’t stay long. Most of the girls there were more like Leah, or Dena, or Danetta, bright, beautiful ladies who we all adored, even as they inspired some truly depraved fantasies. Or Jessica, the wunderkind redhead who graduated high school at 16, and went through the virgin ceremony six times, just because she enjoyed playing the Fake An Orgasm game. Or Jeni (aka “Gyeni”), the “goth muppet.” Or Jeni’s friend Katy, who…

No. Too personal.

Jeni as Columbia: Eat your heart out, Ann Miller
Jessica as Janet, playing Fake An Orgasm
I’ll close this installment with some wisdom I picked up during those days. If you are a straight man, and can play Frank N. Furter well…the ladies will be all over you. What you do with them is, of course, up to you.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


“Men never really come good until their thirties.”

"(The elevators are) small and creak when they are moving. I hate having to use them, let alone have sex in one."

Sometimes Hollywood lives up to your dreams.

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 4: The Rocky Horror Road Show

1990 was a big year for Rocky Horror. The movie’s fifteenth anniversary was being hyped to the gills, with reactions ranging from “wow, I remember going to that,” to, “cheezus, that thing is still playing?” One fortunate side effect was that new theaters were picking it up, and new audiences were being drawn in. And I was able to feel superior to it all, having already been a fan for a full year.

The other side effect, that would in retrospect turn out to be less fortunate, was that the movie was released on home video for the first time.

Up to that point, Rocky had never really been seen as a major success by Twentieth Century Fox. After receiving abysmal reviews upon its completion in 1975, it was unceremoniously dumped into theaters in a handful of markets. New York City, the acknowledged heart of the Rocky Horror phenomenon, had never actually gotten a formal release—it was booked to fill the midnight slot at the Waverly Theater, and despite having changed theaters a few times, had always been the disreputable bastard child. That was why, a good ten years into the home-video era, Rocky Horror had never been given a North American video release.

What that meant, of course, was that actually owning a copy on video became a signifier of one’s status as a “true” Rocky Horror fan. I myself was proud to own an nth generation copy of someone’s copy of someone’s bootleg of the Japanese laserdisc release—easily spotted by the Japanese subtitles. Even rarer were copies of the one-night-only broadcast on a Los Angeles public TV station. These copies were recognized by the inclusion of the song “Superheroes,” deleted from the original theatrical prints and omitted from the Japanese version.

But by the end of 1990, the new theaters were flooded with “Video Virgins” who thought they were exempt from the virgin ceremonies because, “I rented the video!” Our standard response to that was “that’s like watching Deep Throat and saying you’ve had oral sex.”

The bigger problem was that these newbies had no idea of proper Rocky Horror etiquette. I know the idea of etiquette seems counter to the anarchic spirit of Rocky Horror, but any true fan knows you have to have a good relationship with the theater. After all, they’re the ones cleaning up your crap at two AM, so have some respect. Don’t throw stuff right at the expensive screen. Don’t throw hot dogs or other meat products. No squirt guns. No open flames (except for Sal).

But the Video Virgins had no sense of any of this. The short featurette at the beginning of the video showed fans in New York engaging in what looked to the untrained eye like a riot—and with squirt guns. They knew they had heard something about yelling “asshole” and “slut” and throwing things, so there would be shows where groups of malcontents would start immediately tossing their TP immediately, while randomly hurling epithets at the cast.

Of course, we would try to defuse the situation; one memorable occasion ended up with us confronting a gang of fratboys who kept asking us if we wanted to “mix it up.” Of course we whizzed it, and it was up to their poofy-haired girlfriends to usher the alpha monkeys into the car while gigglingly assuring us that “you guys were great! You guys were awesome!”

Before long the theater management had had enough. We showed up one night and were told that we couldn’t perform.

That was the thing—they were keeping the movie. They still drew a good crowd every weekend, and still made good money, so why give that up. They were even willing to let us stay—as long as we didn’t perform, throw anything, or yell anything at the screen. So John—fearless leader—walked into the theater about five minutes to midnight, and announced that the cast were demanding their money back. John walked out, and we followed—and so did the audience. Thirty or so people, all refusing to stay at a showing of Rocky Horror if there was no cast.

Of course, once we all had our money back, there was another problem: what now? We had an audience, a full cast, all in costumes, with props. What were we going to do? Go home?

That’s when Lenny’s mom stepped up. “Everybody come to my house!” she announced.

So we did. A few people lamed out, but we crammed about twenty people, not counting the cast, into the living room of Lenny’s family’s small house, where we did the preshow, including virgin ceremony, then popped in the video. It was a challenge, acting out the movie in a cramped living room with twenty people sitting on the floor, but we managed it with, well, not exactly style and grace, but certainly with enthusiasm. Lenny’s mom even made us frozen pizza.

For the next couple of weeks, we felt like boat people. We were a cast without a theater. We took our show on the road, first to the Gateway in Federal Way (which had gotten Rocky about the same time as Lincoln Plaza), then to the Overlake in Bellevue. The casts there were sympathetic to our cause, letting us make an announcement before the show, where we urged outraged fans to call Lincoln Plaza and demand our return. We also made ourselves available to sub for missing cast members. I myself filled in as Eddie the night we went to the Overlake, where I ended up scaring their poor Columbia—she wasn’t used to an Eddie who actually knew the dance moves.

Meanwhile, there was a small but dedicated campaign going on back at Lincoln Plaza. A small group of regulars was handing out flyers before shows, while a theater employee named Jason was campaigning with the management to get us back in, promising to put himself in charge of keeping the theater clean and the cast respectful.

Our loving audience, not so respectful

So, after three weeks away, we were finally allowed back in the theater. Nothing much had changed; we were a little more adamant about the rules, and we occasionally took a moment during the preshow to applaud Dan the Projectionist, but that was about it. I think they just wanted a little love.

Next: Speaking of love...
Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Friday, May 07, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 3: Rose Tint My World

That first night at Lincoln Plaza I got recruited to play—once again—Dr. Scott. It was a ragtag affair at the time, with some people in costume and some not, some experienced, some not. Though the one guy with both a costume and experience was John.

As we got to be friends, I was fond of saying that John should have been my older brother. We shared a lot of the same interests in comics, movies, and music, but John, five years older than me, seemed so much more knowledgeable and worldly. John played Brad, and did the preshow virgin ceremony. He not only had Brad’s tuxedo, but a full floor-show costume—it turned out he had retired from the Neptune cast a year before I ever started going. John managed a boarding home (a mental care facility) that his father owned, and which was vacant during the holidays, giving us an appropriately creepy place to hang out.

Kathy and John: What charming underclothes

If John was like an older brother, then Lenny would have been the younger brother. Though a newcomer—he had seen it fewer times than I had—Lenny threw himself into playing Riff Raff with a youthful glee. He was the one who drafted me as Dr. Scott, and he brought in other cast members as well, most notably Leah.

Leah. The entire cast’s little sister, and my first (though far from the last) hardcore Rocky Horror crush. She showed up that first night already wearing Magenta’s costume ensuring that she could be anencephalic and would still have my interest. She was bright and giggly and we talked for a good hour or so before the show. I was already putting out feelers, seeing if she was involved with Lenny, or with someone else, or if I had a chance. It wasn’t until I was driving home that night that I found out she was fourteen. Not the last time THAT would happen either.

But at least I found out before I could embarrass myself too badly. Chris wasn’t so lucky.

Chris and Leah: I just fucked my sister, come on smell my finger

And now, to stretch the analogy to the breaking point: if John was like my older brother, and Lenny my younger, then Chris (and most of you reading this know Chris, so you know this is true) was and is my twin. Chris switched off the part of Riff Raff with Lenny, meaning a lot of face-time with Leah. He got as far as making plans to “get together sometime” with her, and it wasn’t until he called her to actually do something that her mom blindsided him with the old, “what are your intentions toward my daughter,” trick. She waited while he hemmed and hawed something about enjoying her company, or one of those things you say to a potential date’s mother to placate her, THEN she hit him with how old Leah was.

After a brief period as Frank N. Furter, I settled in as Eddie and Dr. Scott. Though we weren’t as “professional” as, say, the Neptune cast (where cast members were forbidden from shouting AP lines), we had a blast, and were developing quite a little following. Some people we lost early, like Billy, the budding Actor who tried to include Rocky on his resume, but others came early and stuck around for a long time, like Dena and Danetta, the two incredibly hot girls we were ALL crushing on.

We quickly formed a tight-knit circle of friends, and spent New Years Eve 1991 at John’s boarding home. There were gradual changes to the cast, including Dena joining up as Columbia, and Danetta as Frank, which pleased all the boys to no end. We were having a great time, and doing some fun shows, right up until we got kicked out by the theater management.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


Let There Be Lips

Part 2: You Better Choose Between Me and Rocky

For Halloween of 1989, I was recruited to be a Transylvanian, the equivalent of the Chorus, at the Lewis and Clark theater by Sea-Tac airport. The cast was led by a girl named Pauline, who was given to wild mood swings. An example: one of our stage props was a replica of Rocky’s tank, which Pauline protected with almost maternal fierceness—her ex-boyfriend had made it, and none of the rest of us could touch it. Until the theater management declared it unsafe, at which point she roared at us to “get that damn thing the hell off the damn stage.”

It was, of course, on the night of the big show that I met the girl I refer to as Miss Hell, who had been a Rocky Horror fan since her early teens. She told lots of stories of the cast she used to be in, but I should reiterate that she lied like a politician; she also claimed to have had sex with Rocky Horror creator and songwriter Richard O’Brien, while she was living in New York with Phil Hartman and dating Mike Myers. Who she said was a vampire.

I quickly learned that it was a mistake to let Miss Hell and Pauline within fifty yards of each other. The proximity of these two unstable personalities led to some truly epic clashes, over everything from costumes, to whether the cast should shout audience participation lines or play it straight, to whether or not Pauline was after Miss Hell’s boyfriend. So when Miss Hell and that boyfriend broke up, the compromise was that he got Rocky Horror, and she got me. No one consulted me.

I didn’t go again until the following Halloween. Rocky Horror had finally returned to Tacoma, kicking off its new run with a Halloween show at the Lincoln Plaza theater. Though things had cooled between me and Miss Hell (she was now dating the sixteen-year-old ex-boyfriend of her younger sister), we went together, just for old times sake. And wouldn’tcha know it, there was Pauline, in her (admittedly quite well-made) Columbia costume, leading things. Well, shit.

I had no wish to get caught up in the drama again, so after Halloween I stayed away. But one night, while seeing another movie at the theater, I thought to ask about the cast. Turned out Pauline’s cast had been a Halloween-only thing, and though there wasn’t an “official” cast anymore, there was an unofficial one slowly forming.

So one night in November, I showed up all by my lonesome. By the end of the night, I had a brand-new circle of friends.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, May 03, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 1: The Neptune Affair

I would like—if I may—to take you on a strange journey.

Not to get too Dawson’s Creek on you, but I made some of the most influential discoveries of my life when I was eighteen. I had long known that Tacoma was the ass end of nowhere, but I knew that I was lucky not to live in one of the outlying towns, like Puyallup or Eatonville. I spent most of my weekends hanging out in Seattle’s University District, taken with the (to me) exotic mix of cultures that spoke to my still-forming desire to rebel against conformity, if I could only find the right nonconformists to copy.

Much as I admired the hippies and punks I found in the U-District, I knew that, with my soft suburban upbringing, that wasn’t my scene. I was drawn more to the weekend sci-fi conventions held around the Puget Sound area. To me, there were few things more enjoyable than sitting in the hospitality room at some hotel in Everett, taking advantage of the free bagels, debating with other young geeks whether Colin Baker or Peter Davison was the better Doctor Who.

During the week, I was working at Toys ‘R’ Us, where, modesty be damned, I had declared myself the “Action Figure God,” the resident expert on GI Joe, the Transformers, and to a lesser extent, He-Man. Not surprisingly, a lot of my fellow geeks were drawn to jobs at TRU, including a guy a couple years older than me named Jesse. Jesse and I hung out off and on, attended a few cons together, and one night, after an animation festival at the University of Washington, he decided it was time for me to lose my virginity. Yes, he took me to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I understand that I missed out on Rocky Horror’s late ‘70s-early ‘80 heyday. In fact, when I was younger, it had played for years at the semi-legendary Parkland Theater, less than a mile from my house. But at that age, I was such a clueless little dweeb that, when I read a newspaper article about the audience-participation phenomenon, I thought it was an expose about some horrible ne’er-do-wells rousing rabble, causing trouble for innocent theater-owners.

More recently, it had played for a few weeks at one of the chain theaters in Tacoma. Jesse went with some of his high-school friends from Eatonville, who walked out, complaining that “you didn’t tell us it was a fag movie!”

But my first Rocky Horror experience was at what I will always consider to be the show’s true home, the Neptune Theater. Back then, the Neptune was an old-fashioned movie palace, with a nautical theme that included busts of King Neptune, complete with creepy-ass glowing green eyes. It was perfect.

My one regret about that first showing is that we arrived late, so I didn’t get the “virgin” experience. It’s true: I didn’t get a dirty name, I didn’t get auctioned off, I was not “Tom.” But apart from that, it was everything you hope a first showing will be; the cast was right on, the audience were having a blast. I even got the basics of the audience participation, yelling “asshole!” and “slut” at the proper moments. I was hooked.

A redheaded goth in a french maid uniform.  Now you know.

I spent most of that summer out of town, riding along with my truck-driving brother-in-law. By then I had three viewings under my belt, and when we hit the road I brought along my walkman and both the original soundtrack and the Audience Par-tici-(SAY IT!)-pation Album, a recording of a live performance, complete with audience calls and a typically flaming introduction by fan club president Sal Piro.

I managed to get in a couple of viewings on the road; we spent a few days in Fort Wayne, Indiana while the truck was having some work done, and went to a showing there. The show was sparsely attended, though I did manage to spend most of my time flirting with a very cute goth girl. We made plans to meet up again BIL and me passed back through Fort Wayne, in about three weeks. That turned out not to happen, though; the theater had dropped the movie by then, and I had spaced on getting goth girl’s phone number—not the first or last time I made that blunder.

The other one was on my 19th birthday, in Sacramento. That was much better attended, at a theater that also had midnight showings of Heavy Metal, Evil Dead, and Pink Floyd: The Wall. That was also the first time I performed with the cast, when I got recruited to fill in as Dr. Scott.

But those were cheap road quickies; my heart still belonged to the Neptune, where, before the movie, they showed the trailer for the pseudo-sequel Shock Treatment, and afterwards they spliced in Ferris Bueller telling us, "it's over. Go Home." By that fall, I was a semi-regular (basically, a hanger-on) at the Neptune, driving up to Seattle most Saturday nights for my “fix.” This caused a fair amount of consternation for my Dad—to him, anyone who dresses in black and goes to movies at midnight MUST be a satanist. It’s hard to explain to someone who wasn’t there, but it was the perfect social hub for people like us—still basically suburban whitebreads, but trying to break out of social (and sexual) conformity. It was both entertainment, and a catalyst for something resembling a social life. Just not much of one, being so far away. Either I needed to head north, or Rocky Horror needed to head south.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Idiocy has a name. And its middle initial is W.

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