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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, July 24, 2014

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In Movies & TV

29 years doing "The Time Warp" with more to come


The Oriental Theatre has been stuck in "The Time Warp." Groups of virgins and sluts congregate once a month at midnight to party it up with a "Sweet Transvestite" and his party guests. It's the 29th anniversary of the blessed event that is "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Oriental.

The Oriental has regularly shown "Rocky Horror" since 1978 -- formerly more than once a month and now every month on the second Saturday at midnight -- and it is the longest running U.S. engagement.

For those who don't know, "Rocky Horror" has had a cult following since it hit theaters in the '70s. Droves of virgins and sluts don lingerie and some make-up to participate in a movie experience like no other. The term virgin is used to describe those who have never seen "Rocky Horror" in the theater before. Sluts are regulars.

The plot finds an innocent, conservative couple, Brad and Janet, getting a flat tire on the way to a professor's home. They must take refuge at a sketchy castle in the wilderness that houses Dr. Frank N. Furter. He's in the midst of a party and it's nothing ordinary. "Rocky Horror" touches on everything from sexual preference to cannibalism all while putting on a musical.

What makes the showing at the Oriental special is that a live cast performs alongside the movie. The Sensual Daydreams cast has been performing since 1992 in full make-up and in sync with the movie.

Jerry Dunk, an 11-year cast member and Sensual Daydreams director, says there's just something about seeing the movie in the theater versus at home on tape or DVD.

"A lot of people have only seen 'Rocky Horror' on video or whatever. Seeing it in theaters is an experience for those who only seen it on video or VH1," Dunk says. "We have the movie, a live cast acting it out at the same time and you also have the audience who basically yells a lot of things at the screen."

But there are reasons why the movie has headed up the cult film category and why people have such an affinity for it.

"I think everyone can identify with at least one of the characters. Tim Curry (who pays Dr. Frank N. Furter) especially seems to have a really big draw with a lot of our regulars, they either want to be him or be with him," says Joanna Amos, a five year cast member and assistant director. "The theme 'Don't dream it, be it,' also speaks out to a lot of people out there who might not be accepted for who they are in regular society. In the RHPS crowd, we treat people in khakis the same way as we do drag queens. Popularity doesn't apply here."

She says there's no other cult film like "Rocky Horror."

"'Rocky Horror' is the only movie around where you get encouraged to show up in lingerie, throw things in a theatre, dance in the aisles ('Time Warp') and shout obscenities at the screen," Amos says. "At the same time, you've got a live cast performing as these characters -- with costumes and props just like you see in the movie, acting out the scenes just like on the screen, occasionally sitting on your lap or squirting you with water guns...it's an experience you simply can't get anywhere else."

The Sensual Daydreams cast takes pride in what they are doing.

"It's the thrill of doing it in front of an audience. We don't get paid for doing the show it's just a labor love kind of; something you want to do all the time," Dunk says. "Even people who decide to leave the cast at some point, it's in their blood."

Amos says that it's hard to describe the feeling to anyone who hasn't been in a cast.

"You just can't know until you've had a ton of make-up on strutting around in a corset and fishnets to 'Sweet Transvestite' in front of hundreds of people what it feels like. It's like you're the most fantastic person on the face of the planet and everybody loves you," she says. "For the long-term, I think the attitude our cast has towards performing does a lot for us. Milwaukee's cast has always had the goal of being as close to screen accurate as possible while still having a fun time performing together. Knowing that you're in a really high-quality cast with people who can get along year after year really helps."

For this anniversary, Sensual Daydreams has special things in store, for both virgins and sluts, including a live pre-show and a "Rocky Horror" costume contest.

"(People) have a chance to win some prizes also this time. We always have a virgin initiation -- we pick a couple virgins to do a funny thing maybe like funny contest with ones that want to come up," Dunk says. "This time for the regulars, the person who comes with the biggest group of virgins gets a autographed photo of Tim Curry."



Theaters and showtimes for The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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