As fandoms go, Rocky is a strange one. It doesn't fit into my usual category. I've never written fanfic for it, for a start. I put the characters in a story for doec once, and found them fairly hard to write. I can I remember having this brilliant idea for a prequel once... some of the mental images are even still there in the back of my mind. I recall someone being incredibly excited about the concept and demanding I write it (one of the old Zenners; can't remember who), though the only part I can remember now is Frank speeding down the road on a motorbike and meeting Columbia, thus kicking that relationship off... Actually, I think that may have been the only idea I had for it, or the rest has fallen out of my brain.
I was first introduced to Rocky by - who else? - Gemma. She introduced me to a lot of my teenage interests - Red Dwarf, Bottom, all those other 90s sitcoms, even Star Trek... in fact, I think the only one we didn't share was X-Files - and it was during the period when things began to go downhill, friendship-wise, that she discovered Rocky. I hadn't a single clue what it was or why she was dressing up for it. At one point I think she took herringprincess with her because I can vividly remember Alison buying a pair of five-inch heels for the occasion and running across the playroom in them just to prove she could. ;) I can also recall the two of them singing "Late Night Double Feature" on the bus...
I first saw the film, being vaguely aware of its existence, on a random movie channel (on Sky analogue) in the middle of the night. I made an effort to watch it just to know what the Hell Gemma was on about. Needless to say, after that first viewing I was somewhat confused, but at least I could say I'd seen it.
The UK tour (25th anniversary of the London show) rolled around in 1998, and I ended up seeing it because Jennifer had a spare ticket. I was aware that people dressed up and so invited Jennifer round to watch the film (which I must have taped the first time), so we could pick a charater to go as. We were both still none the wiser as to what the plot was, but we did at least have a reference for costumes. Jennifer went as Janet; her dad went as Brad; I went as Magenta.
Going as Magenta involved studying the film in order to get my costume just right. I've always gone as Magenta since then, with only one occurrence as going as Columbia. It seems that whichever charater we pick first is the one that stays with us.
We saw that UK tour production at the Birmingham Rep, starring Jason Donovan as Frank N Furter. I believe this was his first foray into proper musical theatre, and both of us were surprised and a little horrified at the prospect. As it transpired, he was quite good. (They even produced a cast CD of that tour, so Jason's portrayal is immortalised forever more...)
These days the productions merge together a bit. The most vivid memories I have of the 1998 tour are random and unconnected: the giant pair of lips on stage with the tongue that extended like a catwalk; the "bun dance" line and action (and subsequent conversation re: Jason's saggy [or not] arse, with Jennifer and Alana respectively); doing a waist-up Timewarp in the back of the car; singing on the bus afterwards; the big red letters on the Rep's windows; somehow coining the action of looking at each other on the word "Janet" in "Dammit Janet", which was spontaneous and bizarre and stuck for future reference...
After that I think I watched the film a few more times. Amazingly (I have no idea why) after seeing the live show the plot suddenly made more sense, or at least followed through better.
The next UK tour was in 2000 (25th anniversary of the film) and this time I managed to organise a group of nine of us to go: me, my mum, her friend from work, Lorna, Jennifer, Crystal, Naomi, Vickie and a friend of Lorna's whose name I've forgotten (Amy, I think...) This time it was playing at the Alexandra, and we managed to get nine seats over the first three rows. For Act One I sat between Naomi and Jennifer, then for Act Two Jennifer swapped with Vickie.
I think this was my favourite production of all of them. It's the best seats I've ever had, the atmosphere was brilliant (because there were so many of us) and perhaps the greatest experience was that Richard O'Brien turned up because it was the first night. Naomi and I were so excited she managed to smack me in the teeth, and because there was a rumour he'd be there, we'd made a double-sided banner reading "We love Magenta!" on one side and "We love Riff because he's bald!" on the other. I remember wooping to get his attention and him looking over, seeing the banner and panicking. :D
The other thing I remember is that the guy playing Frank N Furter looked a lot like Tim Curry, Nicholas Parsons was the Narrator (though he kept getting booed - good-naturedly, but incessantly - and was quite grumpy by the end), and that Columbia was played by Jo Someone (I forget her last name now), who played Rumpleteazer in the Cats video. I remember being quite excited by this when I got to meet her and saying "You were in Cats!", to which her response was "Oh, yeah, I was, wasn't I..." ;)
We did a stage door lurk - it may well have been my first one, come to think of it - in the hope of meeting Reckless Rick, except he escaped through the foyer. We didn't get to meet Frank, either. Naomi got her apron signed, though.
I can remember a period during which I was madly in love with Frank. I think this was after my first seeing the show, though can now not remember. I do know I watched the film constantly, to the point where I heard my father humming "Sweet Transvestite" in the kitchen - quite disturbing. I also had a spate of cast-meeting dreams (these must have started after my first viewing), and an even bigger spate of Richard O'Brien dreams. It remains a mission to actually meet him after enjoying Crystal Maze as a child; since then, however, I have consistently managed to miss him turning up to the tour productions...
On the third occasion it was a different group again - me, my mum, Clare, Lloyd, Lorna and Naomi (as far as I remember...), and we had Christine (and later Neil) Hamilton as the Narrator, with Jonathan Wilkes as Frank. I can't remember as much about this one, other than Clare being very excited about meeting the Hamiltons... I'm fairly sure I did a write-up afterwards which is on LJ, however. ;)
And the very last occasion was about four years ago, when I went with my mum and David, Paul, Mikey and Laura. David Bedella (Satan from Jerry Springer: The Opera) was starring as Frank, and the experience was somewhat marred because we went on the first night and ended up sitting in front of the Biggest Rocky Fans Ever, who were loud and obnoxious all the way through. I was also somewhat insane at the time and had no energy for stage door lurking (which has been the case for a while, alas, Sunset in February being the exception).
Aside from actually going to see the show, however, Rocky is much more than that. Just before starting Uni my interest in the phenomenon was growing, and I'd been exploring the official website and thus the chatroom, the infamous Zen Room.
I - and the many others who called it their online home - have many fond memories of the Zen Room. It was through the Zen that I met doec and many other people; the majority of them I have no more contact with, but for a while I gained a lot of new, international friends: avem, Garak (Mike), Plague, Carrie, Traci, Ellesar Raven, Riff Raff - and countless others. I'm still in touch with Doec (Katie) and Carrie these days, and was in touch with avem, Traci and Mike for a fair old time, and despite losing touch, despite the Zen these days being full of irritating n00bs who don't remember those good old days, it introduced me to the exceptional power of the internet to bring people together. I've never looked back from that revelation; it still astounds me how many good, amazing friends I've found through the internet; people who I'm sure, under any other circumstances, I would never have otherwise met. I have Rocky to thank for that, first and foremost.
My Rocky experiences, therefore, are intrinsically linked with friendship groups; with bringing people together. Each time the group has been different, but the energy has been there. One of the reasons I didn't book any tickets for this year's tour (aside from not having the money) was that one potential group comprised people I don't or barely know, and the other potential group would probably be completely disinterested. I've lost my mojo in this fandom, at least in terms of sharing the love. Whenever I watch the film I'm inexplicably reminded of those endless re-watches when I was 17, a sense of warm nostalgia, but it's too difficult to keep the momentum going.
So even if I were going to this tour, I would probably come out of it feeling less than overwhelmed, not through any fault of the cast, but just because things have changed too much in my head for it to ever feel the same...
I think I'll post this before it gets any longer. I really wish fandoms didn't have to be so complicated...