'Rocky Horror Picture Show' Audience Participation Guide

Rocky Horror Picture ShowThe Rocky Horror Picture Show is a film that has been loved by generations, so much so that it has its own cult following. And when I say cult, it truly is -- there are thousands of fan sites devoted to this 1975 classic.

Though it's not necessarily a Halloween-themed movie, theaters across America tend to play midnight screenings of the film on weekend nights throughout October. But don't think you're going to sit down with a box of popcorn. These screenings require audience participation, and if you don't at least attempt the Time Warp, prepare to be shunned by the cult followers.


Audience participation started when the film debuted in the late 1970s and has only grown stronger since. Viewers dress up as their favorite characters, shout out back lines to each and every scene, and do the Time Warp in the aisles.

Luckily for you, I witnessed my first ever RHPC cult screening, dressed up as Magenta, this past weekend. And while it may take several goings to get the lines down, I at least have a basic survival guide for all of the "virgins" out there.

Props: You may want to contact your local theater beforehand, as they may not allow some of these items to be used, but, for the most part, these are the props to use during the show. But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not throw it onto the stage if there are actors performing. You will suffer the cult's wrath.

  • Rice: Dry rice is thrown during the wedding scene between Ralph Hapschatt and Betty Munroe. As the newlyweds exit the church, you should throw the rice along with the on-screen wedding guests.
  • Water Pistols: When Janet and Brad arrive to the castle, it's pouring. Squirt water to simulate the rain.
  • Newspapers: Like Janet, hold newspapers over your head during the rain scene.
  • Lighters/Flashlights: During the "there's a light" verse of "Over at the Frankenstein Place," you should light up the theater.
  • Rubber Gloves: During and after the creation speech, Frank snaps his rubber gloves three times. Later, Magenta pulls these gloves off his hands. You should snap your gloves in sync each time to create a fantastic sound effect.
  • Noisemakers: At the end of the creation speech, the Transylvanians respond with applause and noisemakers. You should do the same.
  • Toilet Paper: When Dr. Scott enters the lab, Brad cries out, "Great Scott!" At this point, you should hurl rolls of toilet paper into the air (preferably Scotts).
  • Toast: When Frank proposes a toast at dinner, members of the audience throw toast into the air (preferably unbuttered ... things could get sticky).
  • Party Hat: At the dinner table, when Frank puts on a party hat, you should do the same.
  • Playing Cards: During the song "I'm Going Home," Frank sings, "Cards for sorrow, cards for pain." At this point you should shower the theater with cards.

Back lines shouted during the film are often changed to roll with the modern times (there were several Snooki references in my experience). Unless you're a regular participant, there's no way to learn all of these beforehand, but this website can give you an idea of how often they're used. The two lines that seem to have been kept universal for the last 30 years are calling Brad an "asshole" and Janet a "slut." Yeah, I wouldn't recommend bringing children to this.

And when it's time for the Time Warp, be prepared to stand up. For those of you that don't know the Time Warp dance, here's a good how-to video. Don't worry, even someone with no rhythm can get this down.

So now that you have a general idea of what to expect, I think you're ready for your first Rocky Horror experience. But beware, they may call out the virgins (volunteer virgins had to make orgasmic sounds in front of the entire theater in my group), but it's all in good fun!

Have you ever done the Rocky Horror audience participation? If so, what was your experience like?

Image via Official Star Wars Blog/Flickr


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