USF Students Do The Time Warp

Cult film Rocky Horror Picture Show provides creative outlet to USF students.

By Daylina Miller News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (July 6, 2010) – At the The Tampa Pitcher Show  recently, groups of students crowd around the box office outside for the late showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Most have multicolored hair, piercings and tattoos and dress in a tacky array of corsets, fishnet tights and lingerie.


The theater has a regular shadow cast, the Cheap Little Punks, who create their own costumes and act out their character’s roles in front of a screen playing the movie.


Five of these cast and crew members are current USF students or recent graduates. They volunteer to do the show to break out of the college routine, have fun and “dress up like you never would in public and say things your mother would be disappointed to hear you say,” said telecommunications major Dani Barta. “It’s a blast.”


Rocky Horror is a rock opera musical starring a transvestite named Frank N. Furter from the planet of Transsexual, Transylvania, who, along with his alien servants, earth-groupies and genetically-engineered creation, seduces a young couple, Brad and Janet.


The original show had its first performance in London in 1973 and was made into a film the following year that flopped at the box office. It became a cult classic after its first midnight showing in New York City in 1976, when audience members began to participate by dressing up as characters from the movie and shouting out phrases.


In 1977, audience members started throwing props at the screen and Sal Piro created the Official Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club. Piro, along with some friends he made at various screenings of the film, began the first shadow cast.


Jess Dingman and Cailyn Arrington both feel like audience participation is the main stay of the show, because otherwise, it’s just a “crappy movie,” they both said.


Dingman, a theatre performance major who graduated last December, has acted with several performance groups in Tampa but is drawn to the Rocky Horror Picture Show because of the cast members’ and audience’s acceptance.


Dingman describes Rocky Horror as loud.


“Everyone is wild and out there and excited,” Dingman said. “You could come dressed as a banana and people would think you’re awesome. It’s just the kind of people we are.”


Some members of the cast became Rocky Horror converts after being introduced to the movie by friends in high school. Others, like USF anthropology major Arrington, were born fans.


“My parents raised me on Rocky Horror,” Arrington said. “My mom used to go see shadow casts perform in college in the seventies, just after the movie had come out.” Her mother still comes out to see the show most nights that the cast performs.


John Guyette, a recent USF graduate, just kind of got “sucked into it” last year, he said. His girlfriend was friends with the directors and needed a ride to cast meetings so he hung around until he was invited to participate.


“It brings people like me, who would normally just play World of Warcraft all night, out of our shells,” Guyette said. “I get to do what I love- act like a fool on stage and with my friends. It’s the only real way I can have a creative outlet for free and being here benefits the cast and the theater.”


Barta also started going to Rocky Horror as a creative outlet and to find her voice.


 “You really find yourself, make friends with the people there and have fun,’’ Barta said. For college students, it’s about relieving all the stress of your papers and your routine. When you go to Rocky Horror, it breaks that routine.”


Beside celebrating oddity and fostering creativity, Rocky Horror creates camaraderie.


“It’s a place where you can meet a lot of different people,” said Heather Fox, a USF psychology student. “You’re here for love of Rocky and they’re here for the same thing. I have a lot of people friend me on Facebook afterwards.”


In 2007, USF’s School of Theatre and Dance kicked off their fall performances with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, narrated on select nights by USF President Judy Genshaft, Fox 13 personality Charley Belcher, WUSF, 89.7 FM announcer Bethany Cagle and Tampa Tribune columnist/WFLA, 970 AM talk-show host Daniel Ruth.


Daylina Miller covers student activities and trends and can be reached at 813-500-8754.