Students find acceptance through ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Mary Cantrell

Dancing in front of a live audience while belting out “Sweet Transvestite” may sound ridiculous and terrifying, but to the Queerios, it sounds like a typical Saturday night.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” came out in 1975, and audiences quickly started participating by yelling lines and acting out their favorite scenes. Decades later, the Queerios continue to perform “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” every Saturday night at the Alamo Drafthouse’s Village location. Selling out every week, especially around Halloween, the cast of 20 works hard to call lines and get the audience involved in the tradition.

Lauren Ferguson, art history and English junior, joined the Queerios as a techie and now plays the movie’s most flamboyant character, Dr. Franke-N-furter, a transvestite mad scientist. Ferguson said her involvement has helped her learn how to disregard the negative opinions of others. 

“It’s a place where you can start feeling normal about yourself — whether that be a super sexual deviant or just not feeling awkward,” Ferguson said.

J.C. Rudy, classics junior and member of the Queerios, said he looks forward to each Saturday show. 

“It’s one of the few places where you can be anything,” Rudy said. “If you want to go out and dress strange for a night, there’s no judgment.”

Rudy said each week they get a high number of Rocky Horror “virgins,” people who have never attended a live showing of Rocky
Horror before. 

“We have over 50 percent virgins every week,”  Rudy said, “We have to make sure we work a lot harder with all our callouts, making them more understandable and making sure you’re doing them all the time because the audience won’t be participating as much.”

The Queerios make money by selling buttons and prop bags, while the ticket profits go to the theater, according to Rudy. All members must complete eight weeks of tech before they are able to join the cast.

Wanting to be as screen-accurate as possible, the cast often has to buy their own costumes, Ferguson said. Finding a female corset in the prop box is a challenge because all of them are made for men.  

Madison Irby, a senior at Austin High School, got involved in Rocky Horror because her mother had been involved as a teenager. Irby said the show hasn’t changed much throughout the years and continues to encourage people to be themselves.

“The one message that’s really stuck with me is ‘Don’t dream it. Be it.’” Irby said. 

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year as the longest running movie in history. Rocky Horror’s adaptability and dedicated fans ensure it will continue to affect people and evoke
positive change.

“I take pride in who I am,” Ferguson said. “I don’t apologize for it anymore. It’s helped me embrace the freak, embrace the weird and be unapologetically me.”