A few days after my sixteenth birthday, I lost my Rocky Horror virginity with my best friend, in a shitty little duplex theater in Van Nuys.
I'd wanted to see Rocky since I was ten or eleven on my way to an audition and my mom drove us past a marquee advertising a midnight showing every Saturday. My parents couldn't or wouldn't tell me what it was about (my memory is hazy on that specific detail) but anything that happened at midnight on a Saturday sounded great to me. The creepy lettering and word "horror" in the title only increased my antici . . . pation.
Darin and I were at a place on Van Nuys Boulevard called Cafe 50s. These fifties cafes were everywhere in the eighties (some blame Stand By Me and Back to the Future for their popularity) but this particular one was my favorite. Though I've never actually been in a diner in the fifties, this one felt the most authentic, which means it copied what I'd seen in movies better than anything else, and had Del Shannon's Runaway on the jukebox.
We gorged ourselves on patty melts and chocolate shakes and vanilla Cokes while we talked about all the things that seemed important after you discovered girls, like how to actually, you know, talk to one and convince her to take an unforgettable trip with you to second base for sixteen seconds of passion. We argued about the time travel paradoxes in Back to the Future, confirmed that quoting Monty Python to the 24 year-old waitress is not the best way to get a stand up double when you're sixteen (or ever) and admitted that Michael Keaton was a vastly superior Batman than we'd been prepared to give him credit for. In other words, it was a Saturday night like any other, and as midnight (and the restaurant's closing) drew near, our attention turned toward that most important of teenage activities: doing anything but going home.
"Have you ever seen Rocky?" Darin asked.
"God, I hate that stupid movie," I said. "And the sequels are even worse. It's like, we know he's going to win, so why waste our time wi --"
"I mean Rocky Horror." He said.
"Oh." I said. "No, but I've always wanted to."
"It's playing across the street at midnight. We should go."
As quickly as I'd gotten excited to see it, I lost my nerve. Through the pre-internet grapevine that gave teens of my generation the truth about Mikey from Life cereal ("Ohmygod he died by eating pop rocks and drinking coke") I'd heard about Rocky virgins being deflowered in horrifying ways ("Ohmygod this guy I know went to see it in Santa Monica and they made him take off his clothes and wrote VIRGIN on his chest in lipstick!")
"Don't they do horrible things to people who haven't seen it?" I said in my most nonchalant voice, grateful that it didn't crack.
"Not really," he said, "but if you're worried about it, we won't say anything."
"Okay," I said, my excitement returning.
The waitress came back by our table. "Can I get you guys anything else?"
Before I could demand a shrubbery, Darin said, "Could we get some slightly burnt white toast?"
The waitress and I gave him the same curious look. He smiled enigmatically.
Twenty minutes later, we bought our tickets, burnt toast in my pocket, butterflies rising in my stomach. We stood in a line that grew to about two dozen people and waited for the theater to open. I made nervous smalltalk with Darin, talking a little too loudly about the great cast they had in . . . I think I chose Huntington Beach.
The doors opened a few minutes before midnight, and we walked into a theater that, Tardis-like, seemed bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outsider: dirty blue and orange curtains hung on the walls. Two aisles separated three groups of squeaky blue seats. The floor was painted a dark navy blue -- blue seemed to be a recurring theme in this particular theater -- and was appropriately sticky. We chose seats on the aisle near the back. I should have been freaked out when a guy sat down a few aisles in front of us and lit a cigarette, but being rebel-adjacent excited me.
The theater quickly got as full as it was going to get. It seemed that most of the audience knew each other, especially the four people who huddled together at the front of the house, next to the screen.
A dude with long black hair and bright red lipstick emerged from the group, and spoke to the audience. I can't remember what he said, because when he began, a hand tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up and saw the most phenomenally beautiful girl in the world standing in the aisle. She had short black hair in a Bettie Page cut, bright green eyes, full red lips. She wore a red corset that fit her . . . perfectly.
She bent over and said, "are you a virgin?"
I was, in every way that mattered, and in that moment I would have pushed my mother in front of a train on its way into a lake of fire if it meant that this girl would remove from me this . . . condition.
If I'd been standing, I'm certain I would have fainted. "W-what?" I stammered.
She extended one hand and caressed my face. She repeated herself, even more seductively than the first time.
My voice cracked as I said "YES!" a little too loudly.
Her eyes flashed and she squeaked - squeaked! - a little. "This is going to be fun."
She stood up abruptly and hollered, "I have a virgin!"
"A VIRGIN!" Replied much of the audience.
Before I knew what was happening, she stood me up, had me repeat some oath that I've sinceforgotten, and spanked me. I remained fully clothed, but by the time I was done, I was soaked through after everyone in the theater sprayed me with their squirt guns and spray bottles. As quickly as it started, it was over, and she disappeared before I could get her number.
My deflowering was, like most people's, nothing like I'd hoped for or expected, but it was still magical. I loved every second of it.
While other regulars repeated similar rituals with a few other virgins in the audience I looked at Darin. He looked back, mirroring my disbelief.
"That was awesome!" I said. Not only had a girl practically showed me her boobs, she'd touched my face! Seductively! And talked to me! And squirted me with a squirt gun! I was beside myself, and the movie hadn't even started yet.
The lights went down, and the show began. I didn't know any of the lines, but I quickly figured out what to yell at Brad and Janet. I threw my toast. I did the Time Warp. I watched the girl who'd taken my Rocky virginity play Magenta, which is probably why Magenta is still my favorite character in the whole show to this very day, twenty years later.
When it was over, we drove back to La Crescenta in my slightly-better-than-Patrick-Stewart's Honda Prelude, blasting New Order the whole way with the sunroof open and the windows down. I dropped Darin off at his house, and though I got back to mine around 3, I didn't fall asleep until the sun came up, I was so loaded with caffeine, sugar, adrenaline.
The movie, of course, was campy and not especially good, but that wasn't the point. It was a shared experience, a place for misfits of all stripes to gather once a week, and fly our Transylvanian freak flags. For the next two years, Darin and I lead an ever-growing group of our friends to Rocky at least once a month, usually more, at the Rialto theater in South Pasadena. I haven't been since 1991 or 1992, but those years -- and the film itself -- hold a very special place in my memory.
This is why we must do whatever it takes to stop MTV from making their High School Musicalized remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, adding new songs -- new fucking songs! -- because just remaking it isn't offensive enough.
Online petitions are pointless and don't do anything, but we can still visit Stop the Remake dot Com to feel like we're doing something to stop this travesty from occurring.
Don't dream it, be it.