Time Warp

Emily and I just finished watching Glee’s Rocky Horror episode together in the living room while the kids slept so soundly you’d think there was no such thing as transvestite aliens living in gothic castles throwing can’t-miss parties.

When did you first see Rocky? Were you a midnight-show virgin? Did you catch it on cable? Did you rent a VHS tape from a crumbling video store and giggle with your adolescent friends?

Did you watch it with your mother?

The first time I saw Rocky I was thirteen, living with my mother and sister in an apartment after my parents separated and we moved off the reservation. My sister was elsewhere for the night and my mother and I were at her boyfriend’s apartment, and he was working late at the restaurant that employed them both. For some reason that I don’t remember we picked up The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It couldn’t have been my idea. I know it was hers.

The lips started singing and my mother started talking. Telling me about seeing it when she was a teenager, letting me in to the world of the small town high-schooler in the 70’s. It wasn’t an experience for her this time, it wasn’t subversive, with so many years gone by. It was a comforting nostalgia swaddling memories of her younger self, one who wasn’t divorcing her high school sweetheart and who wasn’t in an alien apartment instead of her family home on the reservation.

The transvestites, gold bikini-bottomed male models, Rockettes in warpaint, and the creepy albino butler brought her back, and she brought me back with her. And I don’t remember any of the awkwardness that must have been present in the room during the sex scenes, gay and straight, implied and explicit. I just remember learning about her. I was thirteen years old and I didn’t know anything about her life before I came into it so suddenly, cutting her youth short. I was thirteen and self-absorbed and hurting and I didn’t understand the end of my parents’ relationship. But that night I saw a bit of the beginning, and I saw that my parents had shared experiences and weirdness and rebellions and that there was something more to them than the life they had with the kids.

It’s astounding.

I don’t know when Erin will see it, or when Adrian will. I don’t know if I’ll be the one to show them. But because of my own relationship with it I want them to see it. I just don’t know how to explain why daddy keeps yelling “Slut!” at Annie Savoy and “Asshole!” at Mayor Randall Winston.

6 thoughts on “Time Warp”

  1. The friends I went to see it with at the dollar show as a teen auctioned me off as a virgin. I will never ever forget the experience of watching that movie that I can't remember the plot of but I do remember all the thrown food and antics throughout the whole movie. I remember thinking these people are going to get kicked out for this. To my greatest surprise the staff joined in. What a night.

  2. Late 1970's
    Strand Theatre, Market Street, San Francisco
    Rubber gloves, rice, toast…
    Catholic High School girls going wild!

  3. Year 2000 – I was 19, and backpacking round Australia. I met up with a friend in Melbourne, and we went to the Botanic Gardens, where they had a huge outdoor cinema set up. The fruitbats were dive-bombing us as dusk set in, and it was an experience I'll never forget.

  4. I find the whole RHPS subculture mindboggling and inexplicable. The first time i saw it, i was 19 or 20 and i was trying to get it on with this girl, who took me to her apartment and then put the movie on, and yes, started yelling at the screen. I wanted to run screaming to get away from the crazy.

    And Glee sucks, too.

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