UPC hosts 40th screening of ‘Rocky Horror’

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Kansas State students and members of the Manhattan community filled the Union Ballroom Friday night to attend the Union Program Council’s annual showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

The musical follows a newly engaged couple who get a flat tire on their way to visit a friend. The couple stumbles upon the castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter, who is preparing to debut his new creation: a muscular man named Rocky. Since its debut in 1975, the production has been embraced by the LGBT community for its openness regarding sexuality. Last year, it was remade into a television movie, starring transgender icon Laverne Cox.

“I’ve been seeing ‘Rocky Horror’ for a long time,” Mary Renee, emcee for the pre-show, said. “It just makes for a really fun and different night in Manhattan, stuff you don’t normally see.”

Renee is a 13-year veteran emcee for “Rocky Horror.” She explained the history of the production’s culture, which includes audience participation and a pre-show featuring a “virgin auction.”

“People would do a virgin auction,” Renee said. “If you haven’t [seen the movie live] before, you’re marked a virgin, and then there’s costume contests and a lot of fun things before the show.”

Jenna Henderson, sophomore in animal science and “Rocky Horror” virgin, was convinced by her friends to attend the event. Henderson and the other “virgins” were marked with a red V on their foreheads, and were “auctioned” to the audience for bids like applesauce and “the repressed memories from this night.”

Most of the crowd came dressed in costumes, including Mary Poppins, Pokémon characters and Merlin. For the costume contest, they were organized into groups on stage determined by their type of costume, who had come in pairs and who had recently eaten Mexican food. Renee then determined winners and gave out prizes like candy and plastic bones.

Audience participation extended into the showing of the film itself. Afterwards, Henderson said she enjoyed how interactive it was.

“Honestly, it was a great experience,” Henderson said. “Everyone gets so involved, and it’s pretty cool.”

Charlsie Fowler, senior in apparel and textiles and daytimes co-chair for UPC, said Friday’s event was the 40th year of “Rocky Horror” screenings at K-State, making it the longest running show in Kansas.

“It’s a K-State tradition,” Fowler said. “It’s a great way to bring in a great group of people that lets them be themselves and let loose. It’s just a really wonderful time.”

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