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Are you a Rocky Horror super fan? When you dress up, do you prefer Frank-N-Furter’s fishnets and pearls over Riff Raff’s stringy hair and hump? Or are you a casual fan who simply enjoys a good Time Warp every now and again? Either way, there are plenty of facts about the movie musical that you probably didn’t know. Here are ten pieces of Rocky Horror trivia to think about the next time you sing along to “Hot Patootie.”
Richard O’Brien wrote the book, lyrics, and music for The Rocky Horror Show, which originated in an experimental theater space in London (and featured O’Brien, Curry, Patricia Quinn, and Nell Campbell in the roles they’re recreate on screen — plus Julie Covington, best known as having been the first to sing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” as Eva Peron on the original concept album of Evita). It was a big hit when it opened in 1973, and Curry traveled with the show to the Roxy in Los Angeles, where it had a nine-month run 1974-1975. The show transferred to Broadway (with Curry, O’Brien, and Meat Loaf, who starred in the LA cast in tow) in 1975, and despite three Tony nominations (including one for Curry), it was a flop, closing after 45 performances. The show returned to Broadway decades later, however, and ran for two years. Luke Perry, Joan Jett, Ana Gasteyer, and Orange Is the New Black‘s Lea DeLaria all appeared in the musical.
Meat Loaf didn’t know what he had signed up for when he joined the cast of the Los Angeles production. The rehearsal process started with the actors singing the songs out of costume, but once dress rehearsal came around — and he spotted the full-blown version of Tim Curry in “Sweet Transvestite” — Meat Loaf got cold feet and nearly walked out of the production when he realized he’d have to wear a pair of fishnets himself. But, as he says in the interview above, he got over it, thankfully, and stuck around with the show long enough to be cast as Eddie in the film.
Horror movie legend Vincent Price was almost cast in the film.
In addition than the notoriously queer subject matter, Rocky Horror is a musical love-letter of sorts to old Hollywood, particularly B-grade horror movies and creature-features. It’s why O’Brien fondly recalls Vincent Price’s presence in the opening night audience of The Rocky Horror Show‘s London premiere to be a good omen. Years later, when O’Brien and Jim Sharman were working on the film, they caught Price’s interest in the role of the Narrator — but ultimately Price couldn’t commit to the shooting schedule.
Patricia Quinn, who played the raccoon-eyed Magenta in the film (and in the original London stage show), offered up her lips and teeth for that iconic opening number — although she lip-synced to Rocky Horror creator (and Riff Raff’s alter ego) Richard O’Brien, sings “Science Fiction Double Feature” in pitch-perfect falsetto.
The actor who played Rocky didn't sing or speak his lines.
Peter Hinwood, who played Frank-N-Furter’s gorgeous (if dim-witted) creation, couldn’t sing, but that’s no big deal for a movie musical — you just have someone else sing for him. The trouble was, the muscled adonis also couldn’t act, so even his speaking lines were dubbed by another actor. Hinwood admitted to People in 2000 that he doesn’t consider the film a great moment in his career, and explained why he didn’t continue acting: “One, I can’t act. Two, I cringe with embarrassment every time I see myself on film. Three, I relish a quiet, peaceful life.”
Dr. Frank-N-Furter's lab coat is inspired by a concentration camp uniform.
You might recognize that triangle insignia on Frank-N-Furter’s lab coat: it’s a pink triangle, one of the many badges used on the uniforms of those placed in German concentration camps during the Holocaust. Like the more recognizable yellow star that identified Jewish prisoners, the pink triangle designated homosexual male prisoners. The symbol’s appearance in Rocky Horror coincides with its adoption by gay rights activists in the mid ’70s to bring awareness to LGBT discrimination.
Many of the Transylvanians are in the wedding scene.
Recognize any of those wedding attendants? Many of them show up as Frank-N-Furter’s party guests — and if you look closely, you’ll recognize that Tim Curry is the preacher, while Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn are dressed up as characters in an homage to Grant Wood’s famous painting American Gothic.
While it turns up on the soundtrack, “Super Heroes” was cut from the home video release of the film. As the official Rocky Horror fan club website explains, “In completing the stereo portion of the movie, certain deadlines were imposed and it wasn’t possible from the production end to include ‘Super Heroes.’ When the video was re-released at a lower price, it was decided not to include ‘Super Heroes’ because it wouldn’t be fair to those who paid $89.95 for the original release.” The scene, seen above, was digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray editions of the movie.
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You can visit Dr. Frank-N-Furter's castle in real life.
The imposing castle that hosts Frank-N-Furter’s deadly shenanigans is a real place in England called Oakley Court, which overlooks the Thames in the village of Bray. It had appeared in many movies before, including several horror films produced by the famed Hammer Films and the 1976 mystery Murder by Death. Nowadays it’s a hotel, so go ahead and book a room. (I wouldn’t expect a Rocky Horror-style floor show, though.)
Years after Rocky Horror became a cult hit, Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien wrote a sequel-of-sorts, the equally campy horror musical Shock Treatment, which sees Brad and Janet Majors (now played by Cliff De Young and Jessica Harper) as contestants on a devious game show. O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, and Nell Campbell were the only Rocky Horror stars to return for this sequel, which was a critical and commercial flop and never quite achieved its predecessor’s cult status. (Sadly, it’s not available to stream online.)