It’s spooky season and that means one thing for fashion girls like us — the perfect excuse to craft crazy costumes!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, though originally a musical, is now most popularly known as a cult film. Around Halloween, many theaters host midnight showings of the movie, complete with messy props, full-fledged costumes, and maximum audience participation.
A while back, Glee devoted an episode to this musical and introduced it to mainstream audiences. While some people are annoyed with Glee for “selling out” certain musicals, I take the opposite standpoint. I think it’s AWESOME that there’s an avenue to expose people to Broadway who wouldn’t know about it otherwise. After all, the more people begin to love musicals, the cooler it makes us theater geeks look 🙂
So you’ve heard about these midnight RHPS showings, and worked up the courage to attend one in your town — now what? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Read on to learn everything you need to know before catching the Rocky Horror Picture Show Experience!
Science Fiction Double Feature
As I’m sure you’ve heard before, RHPS has an insane cult following. Superfans have seen the film dozens of times, know every lyric and every bit of dialogue, and craft costumes that look nearly identical to the ones worn on screen. There are a few things to know about the RHPS experience before you attend:
- Know what you’re getting into. This may be obvious, but the show is pretty racy. There’s a lot of pan-sexuality involved, so this probably isn’t the greatest event to bring your young siblings/grandma/super-conservative boyfriend to.
- Initiation. Before the show, a host will usually call everyone who is attending a midnight showing for the first time to the front of the theater. Typically, they draw a “V” on your forehead with red lipstick and have you all repeat a racy oath of allegiance. Often, they have other silly or embarrassing games for Rocky Horror “virgins” to participate in, but don’t be afraid to opt out if it’s something you aren’t comfortable with.
- Costume contests. It is customary for audience members to dress up as characters from the film. At some point before the show, there will be a costume contest for each character and the winners get to act out scenes as they happen in the movie. Obviously, if it’s your first time to see the show, watching from the audience will probably be your best bet.
- Props. Be sure to check and find out if props will be provided at the venue you’re seeing the film or musical at, or if props are even permitted. It’s traditional to toss things like prunes, toilet paper, cards, toast, confetti, etc. at certain parts in the movie. Click here for a full list of things you might need.
- Call outs. Catching a midnight showing of RHPS is also fun because of the callbacks shouted in response to lines the characters say. Click here for a full script of what people say, but don’t worry too much about this part — enough people in the audience will know the shout-out script by heart.
- Time Warp. The one part of the film that virtually EVERYONE takes part in is the Time Warp dance. Not to worry, it’s simple and silly, and they tell you exactly what dance move to bust out (kind of like the Cha-Cha Slide!). Click here for a step by step tutorial if you want to come super prepared.
Creatures of the Night
Here comes the fun part — figuring out what to wear!
Just to warn you, die-hard fans take this very seriously. They go to great lengths to make an absolutely PERFECT looking costume. If this is what you’re craving, click here for some official RHPS costumes. But if you’re like me and prefer creating costumes that you can reuse (or even wear in real life), check out the outfits below for some fun costumes that work great as separates as well!
Another warning: if you don’t dress up for a midnight showing (which is totally fine!), but sure not to wear anything striped. For a brief second in the film, crew members in striped shirts were accidentally caught on film. It’s now considered taboo to wear stripes to RHPS showings (unless they’re part of your costume).
Janet: A Heroine
Janet Weiss and her fiancé Brad end up in the castle when they get a flat tire on a stormy night. There, they discover a mad scientist and the other attendees of the Annual Transylvanian Convention.
Janet is portrayed as average and innocent, which contrasts with her crazy surroundings.
Janet’s costume is supposed to be very stereotypically “American”. Her clothes are very plain and lack the drama of the other costumes.
Imitate Janet’s style with a vintage-style pink dress, a white cardigan, and white heels. Finish the look with a pearl purse, a hat, and a circle hair clip like Janet’s.
If you don’t want to dress up as a specific character, dress up as a party-goer instead!
This look is simple — pair a blazer and slacks (or a skirt and tights, as seen below) with any silly party favors you might have laying around — things like party hats, plastic shades, noisemakers, and anything glittery!
The party people all wear suits with bold pops of color. For this outfit, I chose neon yellow, but you could also swap it out for another color. The blazer and skirt imitate the characters’ suits. The blazer is neon yellow, and I think the matching choker is very fun! You could even get a group of friends to wear similar outfits, each with a different accent color.
Add white socks (not pictured) and get ready to pelvic thrust until you go insa-a-a-a-a-ne!
Columbia: A Groupie
Columbia is a tap-dancing glitter enthusiast and Magenta’s partner in crime. Snag her look by, well, wearing as much sparkle as possible.
Columbia’s outfit is packed with sequins and glitter! For a more wearable take on her iconic costume, choose a sequin romper. Fishnets, glitter boots, and a sparkly headband add to the look. Don’t forget Columbia’s classic red lipstick and a bow tie to match!
Magenta: A Domestic
Maid and Riff Raff’s sister Magenta gets to sing the opening song of RHPS, which is my favorite number! She wears a traditional french maid costume, but Magenta’s true signature is her giant frizzy mass of hair.
For a more subtle take on Magenta’s maid outfit, wear a trendy black dress with a white belt. Accessorize with tights, heels, and a headband.
Don’t forget to pay homage to Magenta’s iconic lips with some dramatic red lipstick.
Frank-N-Furter: A Scientist
Frank is the mad scientist and the main character of RHPS. Naturally, I had to save the best for last!
If corsets and garters aren’t really your thing, the look below is instantly recognizable as Frank and is much more real life-wearable.
This Frank-n-Furter look is easily translatable into a everyday outfit. Get the look with a green dress, oversized pearls, pink gloves, and heels. Show your love of the film with a Rocky Horror pin. Do your makeup as Frank-like as you wish!
Don’t Dream It, Be It!
Have you been to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show before? What did you think? Did it surprise you? Would you consider dressing up and acting out one of the character’s parts? Who is your favorite character? What’s your favorite song? Tell us with a comment.
I hope you had as much fun reading this post as I did writing it. As always, let us know what musical YOU would love to see us write about next!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2011; it was completely updated and revamped in 2019 by Olivia with new photos and information.