Virgin auctions, vulgarity and drag: UPC hosts 46th annual ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ screening

(Graphic by Grace Needham | Collegian Media Group)

On Friday, the Union Program Council held its annual midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” bewitching the audience with the cult-classic film and all the quirks that come with it.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” traditions go back to 1975 when the movie was first released and immediately flopped. It was quickly swept under the rug until the Waverly Theater in New York City hosted live midnight showings a year later and created the R-rated, dynamic performance it’s known for today.

Admission to Kansas State’s screening in the Union Ballroom cost $5 and included a prop bag and access to the pre-show rituals, including a costume contest and a “virgin auction.”

Caitlin McCourt, event coordinator and program advisor for the UPC, said her favorite part this year was the energy.

“It was fun to see people let loose in a safe environment,” McCourt said. “People were in lingerie-type wear; it was all very flamboyant and theatrical.”

However, this year’s showing was bittersweet. The beginning of the show featured a small ceremony commemorating the retirement of Bob Sultzer, the Union building manager who helped put on “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at K-State for 39 years. This year’s show was the last he’ll help with.

“Bob helped in a way that you didn’t even know you needed help in,” McCourt said. “Something I wouldn’t even ask for would already be set up. If there was something I didn’t know students would like to see, Bob made sure it was there.”

McCourt said Sultzer’s knowledge of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is what made this year’s event run so smoothly.

Sultzer wasn’t the only longtime show coordinator at the event. The Union flew in Mary Renee, a K-State alumna from Chicago, to emcee. 

“[Renee] coordinated the pre-show,” McCourt said. “She’s been doing it [at K-State] for about 25 years.” 

In true Rocky Horror fashion, Renee hosted the infamous virgin auction.

“A virgin, in the movie sense, is a person who has never seen Rocky Horror before,” McCourt said. “They’re allowed to participate in a virgin auction, which is of course entirely optional. It’s just a fun thing; there’s no real money involved.”

 McCourt said the weirdest thing a virgin was auctioned for this year was a fake leg.

Costumes are highly encouraged when attending a showing, and the dress code is relaxed as long as there is no nudity.

“There were some people who were definitely underdressed, and my boss and I had to look up policy to see if we needed to say anything,” McCourt said. “We ultimately decided to just let it be their artistic expression. I didn’t see any policies that said certain things had to be covered.”

Attending a “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” screening is an atmosphere that’s hard to recreate, and it’s important any virgins looking to attend are ready for what they’re signing up for. When preparing to go to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the first time, it’s good to talk to someone who knows what to expect.

“Talk to a friend, have them break it down for you.” McCourt said. “The LGBTQ+ Resource Center, now known as Spectrum, and SAGA would be great resources to talk to too.”

To find a list of 11 things to know before going to “The Rocky Picture Horror Show,” visit K-State’s UPC website.