Still subversive after all these years

Still subversive after all these years

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

By David Cotner 02/23/2012

The good things in life are sometimes the most fleeting. They’re often casualties of change and maturity. Movie theaters close. People grow out of their fishnet stockings. So how to explain the continued vitality of The Rocky Horror Picture Show? It’s been in theaters since 1975 — the longest-running film release in history. Over the decades, hard-core fans have coalesced into casts performing Rocky Horror live. They dress like the film’s characters and talk back to (and throw things at) the screen, crafting an alternate and surreal script of scathing wisecracks as the film unspools.

And yet, as with all other good things in life, it’s extortionately difficult to keep that faith.

Ventura County’s Too-MuchCoffeeCast (TMCC), which lost its regular screenings at the Regency Buenaventura 6 last May (due to one loud and angry parent who apparently finally figured out what The Rocky Horror Picture Show is about — alien transvestites and Frankenstein monsters), returns to the Ventura Theater on Friday, Feb. 24, for the first time in almost 10 years. Entering its 15th year as a cast, TMCC has resolutely kept the faith, shot through as it is with dried-out, middle-class outrage. Some things, some very bad things, never change in Ventura. Will Goodman of TMCC spoke recently about the cast’s recent legal terrors (about which Regency District Manager Andrew Gualtieri tersely remarked, “It’s a bit sticky. I just don’t find it appropriate to comment”) and what brought it, much like Rocky himself, back to life.

“Unfortunately, since the situation is continuing, I’ve been told not to give any sort of specifics without first talking to the lawyer we have on cast,” said Goodman. “The story that you’ve heard is roughly correct; the child in question was over 18, and the complaint was about the cast as a whole. We make sure to check if anybody involved in pre-show is underage, and we never force anyone to do anything. Rocky has long been a place for people on the fringes of society to go and let loose and enjoy themselves without fear of reprisal or judgment. While Regency and TMCC have ended their long relationship, without their support we would have been out of options a long time ago.”

How does TMCC spread the word about screenings, and how has Facebook changed that particular advertising ritual? “We advertise via Facebook, fliers and ads in the VCReporter, although a lot of it really is still word-of-mouth. Aside from special shows, we always start at midnight. At previous theaters, we’ve had our own security team to keep an eye on things, with cast helping out as needed, but since the [Ventura Theater] has their own team, it won’t be necessary. This time we’ve added Dr. Shocker’s Burlesque JamborTease beforehand to offer a full night of entertainment.”

“I think that TMCC has managed to stick around because we don’t run it like most casts do,” said Goodman. “We don’t have elections for leadership or any sort of strict rules. Cast members are given a huge amount of leeway to perform as they see fit, and leadership only steps in to offer the occasional nudge in the direction we want things to go. We do this show because we love it and we have fun doing it. We’ve always said that when it is no longer fun, that’s it, we call it quits. That just hasn’t happened yet.”

Goodman added, “There’s absolutely no ill-will towards Regency for ending our run there.”

Since the end of regular showings, castmembers have largely been off doing their own things. Several have made guest appearances with other casts, but they’ve all been eager to return home. “That was the one saving grace about the Plaza 14 Theater show in October,” Goodman said. “While it was the smallest audience we’ve ever had for a theater show, every single person was just happy for us to be performing again. There were absolutely no security issues, the show went off without a hitch — and, much to the theater’s dismay, nearly the entire audience was there until after the credits to talk and hang out. The other incredibly memorable show was the homeless all-star show that Sins O’ The Flesh hosted [last June] at the Nuart [in West Los Angeles]. After the Regency issue, Sins decided to offer up their stage for the night so all of the homeless casts could come together and fix the cracks that had begun to form in what is otherwise a very close family.”

Family. You know — something really subversive.

The TooMuchCoffeeCast will perform at the Ventura Theater on Friday, Feb. 24, during a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The show will be preceded by a burlesque production at 9 p.m. $10-$15 for audiences 18 and older. For more information, visit or


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This from Barry Bostwick, who plays Brad Majors in the film and whose comments regrettably came too late for publication.

"I have never known a cast or any individual involved with ROCKY to do anything that wasn't in keeping with the tone and messages of the film...I have never seen the film as subversive or scandalous. It was of its time: pure kitsch and entertainment, full of swell songs and provocative characters...but that's all they were: characters. The fans have taken them to their hearts and created a community of truly creative and sincere folks who have found some common ground with the messages of the film and it's given them hope, confidence and a place - maybe the only place in their lives - where they can be "themselves" without judgement. I love the fans and have seen lives saved and lifelong friendships cemented with this innocent passion for all things ROCKY."

Bostwick stars in the brilliant upcoming comedy horror film "FDR: American Badass," the trailer for which can be seen here:

posted by D. Cotner on 2/25/12 @ 11:00 a.m.
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