Rocky Horror Picture Show rocks the Englert


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If December is characterized by Christmas music, the "Time Warp," "Sweet Transvestite," and "Science Fiction/Double Feature" are the anthems of October — at least for one Iowa City "cult."

On Saturday, more than 400 people will fill the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St., for one of Iowa City's strangest, sexiest, and silliest traditions: The Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screening. 

Tickets for the seventh-annual event cost $16 in advance, $20 at the door, and will include prop bags with everything from toast to confetti and playing cards. Hosts will instruct visitors on the purpose of these objects, as well as entertain audience members with chants and dancing throughout the movie.

One of these guides is Dennis Lambing, who has hosted with Comic in Action for the past six years. 

"There are so many parts [of hosting] that are awesome," Lambing said. "You have this huge audience participation in which everyone is in on the same joke." 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — based on Richard O'Brien's 1973 British play of the same name — premièred in movie theaters in 1975 and drew largely negative reviews. Still, the film's catchy tunes, sly humor, and sexual liberation generated a cult following that has given Rocky Horror the longest-running theatrical release in history.

Unlike a typical film screening, Rocky Horror hosts encourage guests to dress up as one of the films gender-bending characters, throw props, shout obscenities, and dance in the aisles.

Sarah Kosch, one of the Englert house managers, said the staff members make more than 500 prop bags each year. She said she has two favorite things about the show: "People-watching and doing the 'Time Warp.' "

Although tickets are sold at the door, Lambing highly suggests buying tickets in advance; the venue sold out online last year. He anticipates the same results before Saturday night.

"My expectation for the audience is that we'll have another fantastic group of well-mannered people with a very broad sense of humor," Lambing said. 

Kosch agreed.

"I expect an enthusiastic, fun-loving crowd, and lots of fish nets," she said. 

With plenty of R-rated antics by the actors and audience, Lambing said, those unfamiliar with Rocky Horror — whom hosts call "virgins" and will label with a red V on their foreheads Saturday — should keep an open mind.

"Forget making sense of the plot and just enjoy yourself," Lambing said. "Don't make sense of the plot; don't even start."

Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screening
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
When: Midnight Saturday
Price: $16 in advance, $20 at door

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