When I moved back to Houston in 1995, I had no friends there. Also, I started classes a week or so late, and everyone had kind of started settling into groups already. I was a goth chick that said “hella” and “you guys” more often than “y’all”, so I was already weird.
It didn’t help that the first week I was in school, I decided to bleach my hair out and dye it purple. It was the first time I had dyed my hair a fantasy color, and when I was rinsing out the dye it got into my eyes. I stood up in the shower and washed it out, but I had used SO MUCH dye, that as it ran down my body, it dyed my skin purple.
When I got out of the shower, my ENTIRE body was purple. I had to go to school the next day in my JROTC uniform, which was green. That was it. I was Barney for the rest of my freshman year. So I was feeling pretty isolated and overwhelmed at the beginning.
Performing was all I really knew, and I heard there was a live cast performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the River Oaks Theater. I can’t remember who took me there that first time, or if I went alone. But I was definitely only 14 years old. I got sacrificed as a Virgin, and that was it. I was hooked.
Everyone performed, and everyone was so perverted. I had found my home, to be sure. I talked my way into the cast somehow. I don’t know if nobody thought to ask how old I was or if I even lied at first. It was too long ago. But I joined immediately.
That Christmas my mom got me beautiful lingerie to wear for the floor show. Usually I played Lips, but I had started playing Columbia a lot, too. If people thought it was weird that my mom supported me in performing half naked all through high school, nobody said anything either to me, or to her.
I practiced so much. I would start and pause the movie a thousand times in my living room, learning how to play all the characters. One memorable show, we went out to College Station to perform at A&M. It was really intimidating performing outside to a bunch of people that could be hardcore judging us. It’s a show I will never forget. Afterwards, we stopped at a local Denny’s for food. We all still had our make-up on, and pieces of costumes, and were looking pretty bedraggled. We were asked to leave.
I’d never been kicked out of anywhere based solely on appearance before, and I will never forget the way they looked at us. It was mortifying, but our cast leader did get an apology and a letter out of it. Whoop de fucking do.
There are so many great memories of that time for me. Some of them involved skipping school with Jef, trading casts with the Austin cast, driving out to Galveston in the middle of the night after a good show and watching the waves until sunrise. Had I been a good student, home in bed with my parents, I would not have these memories. I have friends to this day that I met through my Rocky days, and I love them with all my heart.
I’m not advising anyone take the same route I did. But it was certainly fun. Between Rocky Horror and the Texas Renaissance Festival, I was rarely home outside of school. It was perfect. I got involved with theatre at school, but I never stopped doing Rocky. I was onstage as much as possible throughout high school, and there has been a small hole in my heart ever since.
Writing helps to fill up my heart, as does singing, and learning guitar. I am working on it. Maybe I will start performing again in some capacity in the future. But for now it is good to be in a place of practice again. I love that San Diego has such a professional cast. I rarely go to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show anymore these days, but when I do, I am always transported back to those days. It’s amazing how many memories one call-line can bring, and how wildly they vary between casts and audiences around the country.
If you’ve never seen RHPS with a live cast, go do it. Support your local performers. Maybe you will find yourself yelling at the screen alongside everyone else, getting it all out. You never know.