I first watched Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was in high school and my life was instantly changed. Dancing, crazy characters, outrageous flirting, and so much antici….pation. The 1975 musical film is about a young engaged couple, Brad and Janet, whose car breaks down near a creepy castle. When they search for help, they find the sexually ambiguous Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his servants (each more interesting than the last). The Dr. sets out to separately seduce both Brad and Janet, which leads to all kinds of trouble. I won’t spoil the ending, but picture lots of murder, catchy dance numbers, and Frankenstein-style hijinks with extraterrestrial influences. It’s awesome.
It’s still one of my dreams to go to a midnight showing, where everyone wears a costume and throws toast at the screen. Luckily for me, FOX is airing a live version of the iconic musical and the cast is an actual dream. Laverne Cox (from Orange is the New Black) plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Adam Lambert (of American Idol) plays Eddie, and much more. The show premieres on October 20, and you can bet that I’ll be glued to the screen.
In the meantime, I’m planning on reading whatever I can that reminds me of the musical. Here are five books that capture the essence of what makes Rocky Horror just so great:
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Audience Part-tic-i-pation Guide, Sal Prio & Michael Hess (Binary Publications, 2012)
Part of the fun of Rocky Horror is how much fans have rallied around the film. It’s a true cult classic, with constant screenings and a whole culture built up around the experience of watching it in groups. If you’re a Rocky Horror virgin, here’s a complete guide for what to expect at your first screening. This book, written by Prio and Hess, is an even more in-depth way to learn about the show, diving into the history, the cult following, and how exactly to become involved as an audience member. If you love the film, it’s a must-read.
When the Moon was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore (A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin, October 4, 2016)
McLemore’s unconventional young adult novel certainly gives us an alternative look at love and how society views that relationship; a message that any Rocky Horror fan can get behind. Miel and Sam are inseparable, as much for their similarities as how strange they appear to everyone else. Sam’s past is mysterious, and he likes to paint moons and hang them up in trees. Miel supposedly fell out of the water tower when she was little, and roses grow from her wrists. When the four Bonner girls (supposed witches) decide they want those roses for their own, Miel and Sam must fight to protect their secrets and each other.
At Danceteria and Other Stories, Philip Dean Walker (Squares & Rebels, November 15, 2016)
It’s up for debate whether Rocky Horror is a positive film in terms of LGBTQ culture or not, but it did help change (or at least push the boundaries of) the sexual landscape in America in the mid 1970s. Walker’s short story collection focuses on the decade that followed, examining the cultural climate of the 1980s. From Studio 54, to a community ravaged by AIDS, to underground sex clubs, the stories push boundaries both in terms of content and nostalgia. Walker even places celebrities in random, iconic locations, painting a bizarre, but fully realized world.
The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine Books, October 11, 2016)
Rocky Horror certainly gets its inspiration from classical tales like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Tan’s inspiration comes from Grimm fairy tales, and he crafts intricate, creepy sculptures that call to mind wicked stepmothers and the princesses they target. His book is a collection of his art, showcasing perfectly staged pieces that are guaranteed to appeal to the gothic inside all of us. Plus there’s a forward by Neil Gaiman, which only adds to the awesomeness. This lovely and eerie book of art an irresistible find.
Crosstalk, Connie Willis (Del Rey, October 4, 2016)
Love becomes pretty intense and clinical in Crosstalk, which is an ideal I can definitely see Dr. Frank-N-Furter getting behind. In the near future, Briddey Flannigan is excited to try out a procedure that will allow her to better communicate with her boyfriend, Trent. She has dreams of a perfect relationship, but the reality is much more complicated, especially when she finds herself connecting with the wrong person. It turns out that hearing other people’s thoughts (and having them hear yours) might not be the best path to a healthy relationship. Briddey has to confront the darkness that can underly uncensored communication and ultimately decide what she truly wants out of love.