This Halloween, a reboot of the beloved cult movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show is back. Its show-stopping songs will surely inspire a new generation of fans, but does its star, a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania,” hold the same mystique as he did in 1975?
Talk about time warps. A new version of one of our favorite musicals is making its way to television — that’s right, network TV. The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event is based on the midnight movie phenomenon that had audience members dressing up, quoting the characters, cross-dressing and pelvic thrusting to the “Time Warp” in the aisles.
Part of the cult success of the original film is that so much of it felt taboo to the mainstream culture in the 1970s. Back then, transgender people and where they should use the bathroom certainly wasn’t a national debate. Tim Curry’s performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, an alien transvestite, was seen as shocking to most people. But it was the younger generation who took inspiration from him.
We call the kids in the 1980s who dressed in ripped fishnet stockings with bright pink and purple hair punk rockers. But it was the fashion of Rocky Horror that inspired them.
Laverne Cox, a trans woman, takes up the role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and looks gorgeous in her black leather getup with cobweb-patterned tights.
But does the image of her shock audiences? Certainly not at the movies. In the above image, she holds a whip. Post Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems quite tame. Maybe the filmmakers’ decision to air this reboot on television was the right choice after all.
If we compare Cox’s Frank-N-Furter to Curry’s, we see a big difference.
Instead of the sleek and beautifully strong woman we see in Cox’s portrayal, we see Curry struggling to adhere to feminine beauty ideals. His Goth makeup and masculine body portray a much more outrageous image, one that doesn’t fit neatly into the feminine or masculine category but sits uncomfortably in between.
At the end of the day, the catchy songs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event will have audiences singing along and enjoying the goofy, B-movie inspired story. But whether or not it will inspire a new generation of cult followers remains to be seen.