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Oh, the (Rocky) horror of it all

By CRISTINA SILVA
Published April 11, 2007


Adam Gollinger, 29, and Candice Busing, 20, both of Tampa, act out the opening scene of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Film Paradiso Beach Theatre in St. Pete Beach.
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[Times photos: Edmund D. Fountain]
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From left: T.J. McConley, 17, Kalie Marie, 17, and Madison West, 15, all of St. Petersburg, take in the show this past weekend.

It was their first time, but they didn't want anyone to know.

Protocol demanded DeQuan Smith, 15, and Keith Steward, 16, march up on stage along with the dozens of other Rocky Horror Picture Show virgins and embarrass themselves.

Oh, the peer pressure.

In front of nearly 100 people, the two teenagers joined other inexperienced theatergoers in a line and proceeded to moan as they pushed their hips and knees back and forth in sequence and passed a foam tube to one another between their legs.

Cue the opening credits.

"I'm not going to give anything away, but these people are ... sick," said Ed Schneider, director of Interchangeable Parts, the troupe that performs Rocky Horror at the Film Paradiso Beach Theatre in St. Pete Beach each week.

"Maybe you are thinking, gee, I hope my kids don't go there, but they probably do," he said on a recent Saturday night before the movie started.

In a time where corporate-owned theaters are banning performances of the campy show, reserving the film for Halloween, the Beach Theatre in St. Pete Beach has bravely offered a live performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday for the past seven years.

Most recently, news that the theater had been sold prompted rumors that the movie would no longer be played. But Michael France, the Pass-a-Grille screenwriter who purchased the theater, said Rocky isn't going anywhere.

Hailed by fans as cabaret theater meets disco, the Beach Theatre performance is a silly romp through an alternative universe where nudity is encouraged, every other word rhymes with truck, and the audience is treated like one big, albeit, dysfunctional, family.

It's an experience that draws people like Richard Spero, 21, of Tampa, who, "showed up one day and never left."

"It gives you a different perspective on going to the movies. It's a communal experience," said Spero, who plays Eddie, the rock and roller who is served up as the main course during a dinner scene in the film.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show flopped when it first hit theaters in 1975 but went on to become a cult hit after midnight showings of the film caught on in major cities. During the performances, live casts act out the action that's on screen as audience members ritualistically call out jokes and throw props.

The plot centers on straitlaced couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who are stranded along a remote road after their car gets a flat tire. They happen upon a castle owned by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite from the planet Transsexual.

In recent years, theaters in Pasco and Hillsborough have stopped airing the movie. One troupe, the Tampa Plain Dealers, was left without a theater to perform in after they were told they were no longer welcome at the Channelside Cinemas in Tampa.

France said he was wary about the show when he first purchased the property in March. But Interchangeable Part's professionalism convinced him that the performance was good for the theater.

"I came out to see the show a few weeks ago and I loved it," he said. "I was very surprised about the amount of creativity they put into to it."

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

If you go

Get in on the action

The Rocky Horror Picture Show airs at 11:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Film Paradiso Beach Theatre at 315 Corey Ave. in St. Pete Beach. Tickets are $5. For more information on Interchangeable Parts, check out ip.rhps.org.

[Last modified April 10, 2007, 20:21:24]


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