A Cult Experience
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In a quest to come up with a working definition of "cult" movies as the modern incarnation of cultural transmitters, I found classifications that insist the "cult" phenomena didn't start until the invention of home video, while others placed the date in the mid-1960s. Some lists included 1950s-era "overgrown radioactive mutant" B-movies, 1940s serial adventures, as well as 1930s drug exploitation films. What made a film go beyond the screen and take on a life of its own?

I was versed in the Hughes lexicon, slinging John Bender-isms into casual dialogue like a pro. I used to watch David Lynch movies while scribbling notes on the symbolism. I am a font of horror-science-fiction trivia that holds no conversational currency outside a comic shop, but this definition needed to involve more than incessant quotes or philosophical study or obscure trivia. I was looking for an event. Rituals were often patterned after mythology, offering a means for the members of a society to participate in stories to create cohesive bonds within a community.

Looking back, my interest in "movie cults" probably began in a friend's basement circa seventh grade with the discovery of an artifact that transported us into another dimension. It was a vinyl pressing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack, complete with a "time warp" dance mat. Putting my hands on my hips and pulling my knees in tight, I knew I was on to something.

Perhaps the pelvic thrust held the key to understanding.

Rocky Horror is a musical-sing-along-tribute-parody-of-the-science-fiction-horror-drive-in-cinema using the cliché genre motif of a haunted castle, a stranded car, and a cast of eccentric characters. Since 1976 it has generated (or degenerated) into a fully interactive experience.

By high school, the album primed me for my first time including costume, "virginity" ritual, audience partici-(SAY IT)-pation and live action rendition. Far more devoted fan(atic)s can offer details on this practice with more expertise at the official web site rockyhorror.com.

My adventure, however, didn't end there.

It was 2 in the morning, and my friends and I were being chased in high heels and fishnet stockings (which made my thighs look fat) by two carloads of drunk frat boys across a parking lot. It seemed like only moments earlier we were toasting with toast—everything was fine—and then we were running for our lives, dodging tossed bottles, our makeup getting smeared. There were four of us and twelve of them—nowhere on the audience participation album did it include a warning about this!

Then we turned the corner and made it to our destination, an after-hours party for the Rocky Horror cast. Spilling out onto the front lawn were an assemblage of vampires, ghouls, tramps, and fiends by the dozens. The screaming shouts of aggression turned into retreat as the rear car of pursuant frat boys' slammed into the lead car. We were welcomed into a community of costumed creatures, having lived it rather than dreamed it.

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