THE LAST SHOUT
by Richard Andreoli
_____Panic swelled and chaos erupted. There must have been a hundred people, maybe two, screaming as they charged at Storm, Dean, Sami, Jason and me.
_____Were gonna die! Ike would be first because his backs fucked up and then the rest of us. Oh yes, were deader than Charles Gray.
_____Get together! someone shoutedI think Ryanin the same sort of voice I imagined anyone on the sinking Titanic might have used; whether the real one or the one with Celine Dions music playing in the background, I cant be too sure.
_____Scoot together, ladies! I joined in, urging the group of fresh-faced girls in front of me to save themselves and perhaps us as well. The chunky one with her blond hair pulled back in a smart little ponytail spun toward me, thrilled.
_____Im so excited to see you guys!
_____Thats so sweet.
_____My mom finally said I was old enough to come.
_____Thus began The Rocky Horror Reunion at The Ken Cinema on August 24th. But Im jumping the gun a bit.
_____AUGUST 10th: Mission Valley in San Diego. Amy Alexander and I rush frantically from the Goth store Hot Topic to the Goth store Torrid (for the plus-size girl like myself).
_____I need a corset without breasts sewn in and fishnet stockings, preferably ones with a seam up the back, I say to the perky pierced-nose gal behind the counter. She didnt even blink and said she was sorry, but they dont sell corsets without the boobs anymore. Over to Victorias Secret. Same deal, this time we speak with a sexy woman in league with, but not as attractive as, Susanna Anderlohr-Pearce.
_____Without breasts? she asked, genuinely confused.
_____Its for me, I explained and she nodded.
_____How times have changed. I remember first walking into a store looking for fishnets and being petrified of what the saleswoman would think of me. Now I was petrified that my mission to find a complete Floorshow costume would take so long that wed miss happy hour at Hamburger Marys. As it turned out, we couldnt find the right corset. It was a return to the old days that brought success. Amy simply lost patience, bought some fabric and, 30 minutes later, I was ready to go. It really shouldnt have surprised me considering she and Todd Mullin sewed the first Space Suits I ever remember seeing. Then again, this whole event now seemed so surreal that I could no longer predict anything.
_____Id often fantasized about a Rocky Reunion, and with it there would be drama, flair, and a return to fabulousness for all involved. However, when Michael Reed first contacted me, the event itself was so far off that it didnt seem possible. It was still a fond dream. Now that it was really happening, it was no longer exciting, but strange and frightening. This couldnt really be happening, could it? We couldnt really be trying to pull this off, could we?
_____It was at that moment in Mission Valley that I realized the only thing keeping me from panic was grounding myself in memories of the glory days at Rocky: smoking out before a show, keeping out of Terris way (or else!), staying up late to work on costumes, lugging props from one location to another and Margot licking her lips. These slices of the past arose like choice gifts and reassured me we could handle any problem that arose. This fantasy Id long harbored would become a welcome reality
if only I could remember my role.
_____AUGUST 17th, Im making one of many phone calls to Amy Alexander.
_____"Okay I have a question," I say. "Did I ever perform at Rocky Horror? Did I ever do the character of Brad in my entire life? Because I dont know his left from his right on-screen actions! And originally I was gonna learn the whole part, you know, just in case Mark gets sick or something, but now Im only focusing on the second half of the movie because I DONT HAVE THE SKILL TO MEMORIZE THE WHOLE ROLE!"
_____I know, she agreed. Todd and I keep forgetting
_____This is why I have no career! I interrupted. All those years I thought I was a star at Rocky. In reality, everyone was just being gracious by allowing me to perform. I was like the retarded kid that no one tags out in softball; they just let him run the bases. I am that retarded kid! I think I started crying at this point. So, God forbid, if something happens to Mark Englehart we are fucked, Amy. Do you hear me? Fucked! Because I cant do Brad in the first half, and Dean cant do it and then get into Frank makeup in time to have sex with me in the second half, and
_____Okay, I eventually learned my role because, thank goodness, Brad mostly stands around or has his back to the audience in the second half of the film. How convenient.
_____Nevertheless, when I arrived for the noon rehearsal on the 24th, I wasnt the only wreck in the crowd. Ilana Sami Goldberg showed up and we excitedly jumped around like two little girls (which isnt that far from the truth, but whatever) because we were each others Brad and Janet. Then we immediately sunk into our mutual worries that we were going to suck big donkey dick because each hoped the other knew where to stand on stage at which time. Vicki Wygal joined us, because, as the second half Columbia, were all pretty much together. It turned out, together in our confusion and fear. Then Amy Berner, who was my Janet for the longest time when I did Rocky, tried talking us down like a counselor at a rehab clinic. It did no good, and those sweet memories I was cultivating werent helping much either.
_____Finally, I said, Look! If we mess up, whats the big deal? Itll be over in a second, and the audience probably wont notice. _____Remember, its only Rocky.
_____Were it only Rocky would any of us have returned? Would I have written Yohann a huge letter describing the events in detail so that he could experience the evening while sailing in Mexico? Would any of us have spent the money, the time or the energy to come? In some cases, having to connive our partners to come along and share in the night? I think not. Even though Id said this was only Rocky, we all knew it was bigger than just a night up on a stage. It was a moment to grasp a shred of that joy wed once held 10 years ago.
_____Besides, the cast from the La Paloma would be watching, and Id be damned if I was going to do a shitty Floorshow so some young bloods could make fun of us geriatric gigolos and jezebels!
I eventually walked into the Ken with Andy Cameron and Michael Reed behind me. The sight of the empty theater seemed to pull me in and embrace in some strange, familiar way: the scent of old popcorn, dust, and cushions that probably hadnt been cleaned in years. While Im not one to give a spirit to locations, I swear there was a small sigh of relief that wed returned home. It was immediately ripped from my consciousness as Andy and Michael shouted
_____I had forgotten the ritual blessing we yelled to announce our entry into the theater. They took me off guard with it, but that same comfortable feeling quickly returned and a chill ran down my back. I wanted to cry, pleased to be present.
Time for introductions
_____Todd Mullins at a wedding, hell be here tonight. Amy Alexander has been a trooper through all of this, and still talks to me even though Im a freak. Susanna is still as beautiful as ever, and the only one who remembers what the hell to do. Over there is RJ, the friendliest guy around who I really wish I couldve seen perform back in the day because hes DAMN fine. Terri Ferris IS BACK and shes just as I remembered. Dean and I met this morning, but have so many mutual friends that youd think we were gay. Laura and I met years ago, but Ive fried a few brain cells since then. Theres Ryan, whos led the glamorous life abroad and is gentleman enough not to gloat about it. Theres Storm, my personal savior with a battery-powered fan because the buildings hotter than a two-dollar hooker in the middle of Mardi Gras. (What? They STILL havent fixed the AC?) Theres Ann whos my second favorite person with her innovative ideas on how to smuggle Valium over the border. What would Rocky be without a little drug talk? Theres Chris, who is no longer little, and deals with dead bodies for a living (which I find ironic because hes playing Rocky and no one seems to get it). And Jason, whos got the gossip on all things going on and theres nothing I love more than some good dirt!
_____Then theres Mark, the first half Brad who shares my fondness for Yohann. He told me the story of the first time he met Yohann. (Apologies, this is from memory.) Everyone was out of town for an SCA War and Michael Reed needed a cast, so he started pulling people out of the audience and grabbed Yohann for Rocky. Hed only seen the film twice. During the death scene, with Margot playing Frank, Yohann picked her up and carried her around the stage while growling at the audience. THAT was the best Rocky Id ever seen.
_____The glorious history and dirty secrets played a part in the rehearsal, the dinner, and the actual performance. We all swapped tales that began with, Remember when
We wanted to know who dated who, who screwed who, who experienced the gay butt love but didnt admit it, who did drugs then, who did drugs now, which ones, do you have any and on and on. They were grand memories, made all the more important because Rocky was the place where we were the stars, the in crowd, the (Super) heroes, if you will. I always feel bad for the people out in the real world, the cool kids who never got to experience what we all did by attending Rocky. I was thrilled at the knowledge that tonight - Is the night! (SNAP!) - when a whole new group of people would get to experience Rocky Horror because of us.
_____AUGUST 24th, 7:45am: the morning of the reunion and theres a handful of us doing The Time Warp for KUSI News. Anthony Pearce, who Ive long felt was the glue that held much of the San Diego cast together, is dressed as Frank. Anthony, Andy Cameron and Michael Reed are doing their best to promote the show, and yet I cant help but feel that the rest of us look sad and pathetic as we dance in the rising sun. Were gonna tank bigger than Glitter. I know it!
_____The reunion dinner brought some wonderful moments. For a brief time, I forgot my growing fear that Id never have the time to change from being Medusa-ed into a Floorshow costume. I got to meet Ikes gorgeous fiancée, who fit in with the group as though shed been there the whole time. Glen Clabaugh and his wife Lori were their ever-wonderful selves, mixing in the humor of our shared past with the grounding of who wed all become. Janette Gomez looked happier and sexier than Id seen her in years. I also saw Janalee, Andi, Eileen and Patti, the unstoppable Mom, plus more people than I can think of right now. There were many more when we got to the theater
_____Oh my God there are more people here than at a
_____Than at a
_____There were so many people; I couldnt come up with a snappy line.
_____Spotlights, news crews, THE DREAM POLICE!!!, and scores upon scores of fans. There were people who shouted my name. I have no fucking clue who they were, but God bless them anyway for coming. Or Goddess bless, because Anthony and I know a few of you out there are Wiccan.
_____My only sadness was missing Lisa Eckert-Mette and James Mette whod performed my first night at Rocky. Back in the day, it had been their encouragement that prompted myself and so many others to join the cast.
_____The pressure was on, the nerves now real, and the cast was brought into the theater through the back stage door, all of us wondering why we never had that convenience back when we performed Rocky every week. We put out The La Palomas props and costumes that made our show look good. Todd and his (golden, lovely and very wonderful) wife, Christine, arrived and it felt like home again at The Ken. Lauras Trixie looked so hot I couldnt stand it! Brad Brown arrived which was a thrill to those of us who came into the cast later, but remember tales of his exploits.
_____Then the rules were announced
____Fuck the rules!
many people did, as evidenced by everything that was thrown and squirted that evening. But what could The Ken do? Not let us have Rocky there next week?
_____The cast was introduced, and after an eternity, my name was called. I tossed aside the curtain and marched on out as though I were Miss America. Yes, it might have been a bit much, a bit over the top, but what the hell! What if the things I said to Amy, about me being the retarded cast member, were true? After being cut from my 2 minute stint on The Anna Nicole Show, what if Rocky was my only fifteen minutes of fame? Well dammit, I was gonna take it like a man, enjoy the moment and do my pretty wave in front of the 400+ audience.
_____The night ended all too quickly. An instant. A snapshot of our lives.
_____Funny, when looking back on the years I attended and performed at Rocky, they seem similar. Sweet. Finished at just the right time so as not to spoil.
_____With that, let me thank Michael Reed, without whom this long-sought dream of a reunion would never have been.
Its fitting that there was a break in the film during Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, because what would Rocky be with out a damaged print? It was nostalgic to have Amy Berner and Susanna save the day before Floorshow by helping us get into costume like this was our first night all over again. It makes sense that Sami and I would be told there was no Superheroes in this print of the film, because it allowed us to have a last-minute Oh shit! moment when it unexpectedly came on screen. The most perfect moment was when the entire Ken Theater lit up with glowing luminescence during Theres a Light. I knew then that wed all sparked a bit of magic. Id always imagined wed done the same thing over 10 years ago, and tonight the theater itself was gracious enough to give us that magic in return.
_____Times have indeed changed. Kerri came up to me after the show and said, You dont feel like youre 30 right now, do you? We laughed. No, especially when she got up at the end of the show to dance with me like old times and found the cast bowing. That was certainly never a part of Rocky. After the movie, a guy asked if he could touch my ass; trust me, that NEVER happened before at this theater. Then again, its a different time now. Weve changed. Thankfully, the people we became were influenced in no small part by our time at that quirky midnight movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
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