Not just fishnets: UPC makes ‘Rocky Horror’ showings possible


It’s almost Halloween, and this Friday at 10:30 p.m. in the Union Ballroom, the Union Program Counsel is hosting a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a screwball horror musical released in 1975 with a large following of devoted fans. This has been an annual tradition at Kansas State for over 20 years, and the UPC is happy to keep it going.

“We love keeping this tradition alive, not only for the people who come every year but for the ‘virgins’ of the show as well,” said Erika Davis, a program adviser for the UPC.

“Rocky Horror” is famous for unique live showings that involve audience participation. Every attendee, including first-time viewers (or “virgins” as they’re called), gets a prop bag. The prop bags hold all the essential tools you need to have an immersive time watching “Rocky Horror,” including pieces of toast, rice and some newspaper shreds.

Davis said the UPC usually takes hours to fill as many prop bags as possible. But this year, the UPC filled 450 prop bags in 30 minutes thanks to additional help.

Another important part of the live showings of “Rocky Horror” is the host of the whole event. Mary Renee, Manhattan resident, has been K-State’s “Rocky Horror” emcee for the past 13 years.

The emcee has the biggest part to play for every live showing. They obviously help the crowd get excited, but they also explain some of the props and traditions to newcomers. The emcee is also responsible for auctioning off the “virgins” of the show to attendees with more “Rocky Horror” experience.

Attendees who have never been to a showing before get marked with a red letter “V” on their forehead. Before the show begins, the “virgins” are brought up on stage and auctioned off — not for money, but for random objects people may have with them at the time. The “virgins” then go sit by whoever bought them and they teach the newbies about all the props and when to use them.

“Since ‘Rocky Horror’ is a traditional event that we put on every year, there is a to-do list of things we need done,” Davis said. “This makes it easier than the other, newer events we put on.”

One thing Davis did recently to improve advertising was passing out advertisement cookies with brassieres, lips, high heels and other bits of “Rocky Horror” iconography on them. The UPC also does more traditional advertising through flyers and posters around campus.

Parker Heinze, senior in psychology and undergraduate assistant for the LGBT Resource Center, said he has been going to the annual “Rocky Horror” showings ever since he was a freshman at K-State.

“’Rocky Horror’ and the K-State Drag Show are my favorite events of the year,” Heinze said. “This is because of the air of positivity and inclusiveness that these events hold.”

The unique traditions surrounding “Rocky Horror” showings are a surprise to many. Brant Crank, junior in microbiology, said he was unaware of “Rocky Horror” and all the things that happen during a showing.

“I just thought people sat there and watched together, maybe sang along to some songs,” Crank said.

After Crank learned what to expect from “Rocky Horror,” he said he is much more interested in attending this year.

“It sounds like a fun time, although the ‘virgin’ auctions seem kind of scary,” Crank said.