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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Red and Black Week 2014, Day 5: Creature of the Night


Day five - we're on the home stretch, readers!  For the fifth post, I want to celebrate something more personal - a phenomenon dear to me and probably many others out there on the fringes of mainstream taste and culture. Warning for those easily offended: this post contains tackiness, scantily clad men in drag and campy fun. I have no idea why you'd be on my blog if you didn't like those things, but just in case.


Photo by Steff.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of the few true cults in pop culture; there's a certain ritual in introducing friends, and it takes a few viewings before you 'get' it. Then there's the flare of joy, an instant recognition of a kindred spirit when you see another fan, because in that moment what makes you weird is something to be shared and celebrated. For something surprisingly (if wonderfully) bad, it unites people, with toast and newspapers and glitter. Maybe its endurance is because, as its creator Richard O'Brien suggests, it represents the archetypal fairy tale, as Brad and Janet enter the lair of the wicked queen or wolf and come out changed. Amanda Palmer describes it thus: "rocky horror has been a universal umbrella under which generations of punk rock theater [sic] freaks have bonded in weird solidarity. it’s the closest we get to a religious experience, a shared myth, the epic story we know by hear[t]... it’s church."

Eye make up for the night. Photographed before mascara, because I am an idiot.

We've been meaning to host a party on Rocky theme for a year now, and finally got around to it last week. It was a great night, and an even better end to the academic year; there would be more photos, but I don't want to feature lots of people on here who haven't agreed to be. I didn't have the time or money to put together a costume for a specific character, so I recycled my Transylvanian costume from going to see the stage show last year, painted my lips with glitter and backcombed my hair to the heavens (which then fell flat, as I did it in a rush). Ben definitely won best costume for his Frank N Furter effort - which hopefully is considered silly enough (and in good spirits) for featuring in Red and Black Week - but I'm happy with my own.

I should probably add 'willingness to cross dress and embrace non-masculine attributes' to my imaginary dating questionnaires.
I'd perhaps recommend that RHPS virgins don't attend viewing parties before seeing the film, as it's a bit of a sensory overload. We invited two poor medic victims friends to the party, who were somewhat shell shocked seeing Ben walking about perfectly casually in stockings and a corset top. Interestingly, some of our friends from the swing society who hadn't seen the film either were far too keen and loved every bit. I wonder if that says something about the difference between medics and swing dancers? Hmm.

Glitter lipstick , which worked 5000x better than I thought it would. 

Rocky Horror is an interesting examination of the red and black colour scheme. Visually, the pairing comes from the inspiration from terrible horror B movies and the themes of exploration of sexuality (red and black being the colours of choice of Anne Summers and its ilk), and fits with the glitter, sequins and rhinestones. It's a cliché of a colour scheme, and flies in the face of social norm, with its avoidance of overt sexuality and rigidity of traditional sex and gender roles (which encompasses everything from hypermasculinism to rejection of women displaying male characteristics).

Which, as we all know, TRHPS and the wave of punks and goth and queer culture it inspired rejoices in ignoring. Let's celebrate cliché and tastelessness.





Fee

20 comments:

  1. 'Oh Rocky!'

    Your lips look amazing. I can well believe your medic friends were a little shocked.

    I remember my first RHS as a callow 19 year old, when my friend stuck me in a see through maid's outfit she'd hand made and then proceeded to transform herself into Frank. Then we got on the 631 bus to Newcastle Theatre Royal in broad sunshine to the amazement of the rest of the Newcastle Bigg Market seeking public. Rocky stood on my mate's onion rings (don't ask!). It was some initiation into the wonderful world of RHS. Prunes, toast, water, rice - I was somewhat scruffy by the time we left the theatre completely exhilarated. And I can do a mean version of Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch-Me!

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    1. To be fair, it's quite a shock seeing Rocky Horror for the first time, particularly when your friends are walking around in fishnets and corsets.

      I had a similar experience going to see the stage show last year; I had to get the train into Glasgow, and the amount of dirty looks I got from middle aged women...

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  2. I love Rocky Horror! I love your glitter lipstick, wow! And your friend looks great! I love to see a man who isn't embarrassed to look great in drag!

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    1. Thank you - I loved it too, so much that I would wear it daily if it didn't make such a mess.

      It's a peculiarly British thing, men in drag; whilst Rocky Horror is different thematically from the traditional british drag acts it hails from, I love the complete abandon with which only the best men throw themselves into it.

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  3. I so envy you having a Rocky Horror themed party! While most of my friends know this movie, there aren't many of them who enjoy it as much as I do. It was only in January when I had a small party with cheesy music and 'Sweet Transvestite' was on the playlist. Sadly, there was no dressing up because it was totally spontaneous, but nonetheless I cherish this memory dearly, I was told I would make a perfect Frank-n-Furter :D
    I love your eye make-up, I think I need to try something similar with liquid eyeliner.

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    1. I wasn't sure how many people would be up for prancing about cross dressed and covered in glitter, but it turns out a lot are. I hope you get to have another party!

      Thank you - I like this eye look too! I based it off a photo of an old post punker, but toned it down a little as I wanted it to be more Ru Paul than gothy goth-goth. I think I'll post a updated version of it more towards the latter in another post soon.

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  4. "the difference between medics and swing dancers" - haha! Indeed, I can only imagine... ;) Sound alike a fun night. And WOW, that lipstick!!

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    1. For our 'work hard, play hard' philosophy and supposed liberal nature, medics tend to be more conservative in our attitudes. Excluding myself, of course, because I'm secretly an art student. ;)

      Thanks! It certainly was a great night.

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  5. wow your friend totally looks like...the dude! haha clearly I only saw the movie once. love the makeup

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    1. I think you mean... the sweet transvestite. ;) I try not to watch it too much either, in case I spoil it for myself.

      Thank you!

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  6. Hahh, Ben definitely, totally nailed it, he looks awesome!! :)
    I loved this post! ^^

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    1. Thank you! For not wanting to spend a fortune, he did an awesome job. :)

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  7. LOVE the Frank N Furter costume. Well done.

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    1. Cheers! He did pretty well (though he had a hand with the DIY).

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  8. I love, love LOVE the red glittery lipstick, but I have one question: how do you avoid accidentally eating glitter?

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    1. I used specific make up glitter (which is designed for this purpose and thus safe), and put lip sealant on top to stop it moving too much.

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