The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Unpacking the Mysteries Behind the Cult Classic

Unlike any other film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” developed a cult following as a midnight movie with moviegoers singing along to the screen. Audiences all over the country would show up to these midnight screenings, sometimes in costume, lip-synching lines of their favorite characters, and throwing props at the screen.
Movie Stills/Alamy Stock Photo
Movie Stills/Alamy Stock Photo
A quickie for Rocky Horror newbies: Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick star as newlyweds who wind up held hostage at mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s haunted mansion/spaceship during his annual Transylvania Convention. The horror/sci-fi/parody pastiche explodes to life as a rock-and-roll musical. The film’s production became a legend all its own. Go ahead, scroll down!

The Working Title

It’s hard to imagine any other title representing the cult phenomenon of Rocky Horror, yet, just days before its original stage production, it went by a very different name. Richard O’Brien, the brilliant actor who wrote “The Rocky Horror Show” for the stage, initially gave it the snoozer headliner, “They Came from Denton High.”


Luckily, director Jim Sharman suggested changing it to “The Rocky Horror Show” while rehearsals of the musical were underway. The new title was approved just in time for previews and stayed with the production when it moved to film: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” how could it be any different?

Transitioning from Stage to Film

In bringing the parody horror show to the movies, O’Brien and Sharman strove to maintain as many theatrical elements as possible. To this end, the striking lead Tim Curry as the mad scientist also starred in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” O’Brien played creepy butler Riff Raff, and other creatives from the play worked on the film. Meat Loaf was one rising star who made the cut for the film version.


When it came to Brad and Janet, however, Fox studios had a different plan. They thought the movie would take on an American appeal and sell well in the States by starring two U.S. actors. And so it was. Voila, budding actress Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick played the newlyweds.

The Original Production

Premiering in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 1973, the British rock musical was an instant hit. Its fame endured, playing in London theatres until 1980. The U.S. debut of “The Rocky Horror Show” opened in Los Angeles at the Roxy in 1974 to a strong nine-month run.


Richard O’Brien’s affinity for ‘70s glam rock gave the show energy and intensity. By 1974, the film version was already underway. Meanwhile, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who looks like a hybrid of Freddy Mercury and Robert Smith of the Cure, was performed by Tim Curry in London, L.A., and on Broadway.

Meat Loaf’s Motorcycle Cameo

Meat Loaf brought Eddie to life on stage and in the movie. The American singer (real name Michael Lee Aday) who would find fame after his Rocky Horror performances, didn’t mind portraying the ‘50s greaser biker, but as tough guys go, he wasn’t prepared to do the stunt.


Instead, a stuntman crashed the bike through the freezer room wall in that epic scene. Refusing to do the motorcycle stunt was a smarter move than he knew. He found out how wise he had been when stuntman Ken Sheppard crashed the bike.

The Real Story Behind the Motorcycle Scene

It was unsafe for Meat Loaf to do the motorcycle scene, so the production crew rigged a wheelchair into a motorcycle prop. It seemed safe enough. They added a windshield, a headlamp, handlebars, and front wheels. Finally, they added a camera to the front of the improvised bike to shoot the scene.

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Unfortunately, the camera was just the right amount of weight to make the rigged-wheelchair front-heavy. Sure enough, Meat Loaf toppled over forward, going down a ramp. Stand-in Sheppard lunged to stop the crash but broke his leg instead. The actor landed in a pile of broken glass, bleeding from his head.

The Stuntman’s Crash

The motorcycle was real. It was an old military bike, and it weighed a ton. Working on that scene, Sheppard is told to ride the bike on a raised circular ramp. On the second round, hurrying along at a quick pace, he veers to the side of the ramp and topples over the edge from that height.


When the rider lay there without moving and with his eyes closed, everyone on the set feared the worse. Next, he sat up, clapped his hands, and was ready to get back to work. He later explained that keeping still after a crash is a stuntman’s check to make sure there are no injuries which movement would exacerbate.

Meat Loaf Gets Cold Feet

Meat Loaf was from Denton, Texas, the same “Denton” of the working title. He was raised in Dallas but moved to Denton for college. “The Rocky Horror Show” was his second acting gig, “Hair” is the first. He had only rehearsed the songs and had not seen the script by the time he showed up for the first dress rehearsal.

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When he first saw Tim Curry fully costumed in drag, the naïve southern boy left. His erratic behavior got him a ticket, jaywalking across Hollywood Blvd. Legendarily, narrator Graham Jarvis talked him into coming back to the production. Soon enough, he understood the humor and loved the show.

Whose Lips are They Anyway?

The short answer is, the lips are Patricia Quinn’s. She sang “Science Fiction” for the London stage production, and she assumed she would be singing the song for the movie. As it turned out, writer Richard O’Brien decided to perform the opener, but they kept her lips moving on the screen as he sings.


At the time, she was furious. That song was the reason she auditioned. She was ready to leave the film altogether, but producer John Goldstone pleaded with her to stay to play her character Magenta.

Costume Designer Extraordinaire

Another creative the producers were able to bring over to the film was Sue Blane. She almost did not come on board, but after knowing her friend and colleague Curry she’d met in 1971 at the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow would be playing the lead, she took the underpaid job.

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Her creations, impeccably mocking movie conventions while looking avant-garde make the film what it is. She also is credited for inspiring punk looks and styles. The talented costume designer was recognized in the UK with an MBE and was nominated for a BAFTA in 1982.

Tim Curry’s Corsets

The first corset Sue Blane designed for Curry was at the Glasgow theatre for “The Maids” in a 1973 performance. When director Jim Sharman approached Blane to do the costuming for his “Rocky Horror” musical, she had the perfect thing. She grabbed the old “Maids” corset from the closet, glued on some sequins, and presented Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s first look.

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She had to work with a budget of $400, forcing her to forage through flea markets and junk shops all over London. “With such a small budget, everything had to be junk. There was no way around it.” She didn’t look at any sci-fi books or comic strips; she just went with her intuition. For the movie, she was allotted $1,600. However, with corsets costing $200, it was still a very tight budget.

Susan Sarandon Had a Cold, But Still, She Went On

Filming the low budget movie offered few perks for the cast. Besides the amateurish motorcycle contraption and stunt resulting in injuries to cast and crew, cost-cutting efforts caused other problems. The film was shot inside an abandoned castle outside of London in the middle of winter. There was no heating, and the pool was freezing. Susan Sarandon said conditions were appalling. “There was no ceiling. It was raining right into the building.” Ultimately, she fell ill.


They shot the pool scene and, unable to warm up within the cold and damp walls of the old Oakley Court manor, she caught pneumonia. She asked for a heated room, and they complied with a rigged partition space, but then the makeshift room caught fire! So much for that luxury.

Screening the Role of Rocky Horror

Peter Hinwood was chosen to play Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s creation because of his ideal physique and distinctive look. Spoofing ‘50s and ‘60s-era Frankenstein horror movies, they named the monster “Rocky Horror.” The underwear model seemed perfect for the part; he fit those gold hot pants perfectly, but he couldn’t act, and he couldn’t sing.

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His acting was so terrible they had to hire Australian singer and actor Trevor White and dub in the vocals at the end.

Castle Upgrades

The old Oakley Court manor suited well as a shooting site for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has been the precise location of B-movies like “The Curse of Frankenstein” and “Theater of Blood,” the films the production team was satirizing. Though this won’t help the cast and crew who shivered through the entire filming, you’ll be glad to know that the castle in Bray, just steps from the Thames, has been refurbished to its former splendor and remodeled with every modern luxury.


There are nine plush mansion suites, the castle’s original spacious rooms featured in the movie. For just under 300 British pounds, you can stay overnight, take a full English breakfast, indulge in an afternoon buffet, and partake in a late-night screening of the film.

David Bowie Makeup

If you’re detecting a glam rock look similar to Ziggy Stardust in the film, you are right on. Pierre LaRoche was hired to do makeup for the movie because of his creative efforts in bringing Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona to life. He was also invited to tour with The Rolling Stones and do Mick Jagger’s makeup.

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LaRoche was raised in Algiers, where he took on the heavy eyeshadow styles of Muslim women. He and Bowie were mostly responsible for crafting the glam rock look of the era.

The Coffin Clock

Chiming in to the “Time Warp” song and dance is the tone of the legendary Rocky Horror grandfather clock. Fashioned out of a coffin complete with its yet encased remains, the Igor-like hunchback Riff Raff opens the lid of the coffin clock to the famous line, “It’s astounding!”

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Those skeletal remains are real. Just as impressive, that exact clock that sat in a London prop shop for years was sold at Sotheby’s in 2002 on the first day for 35,000 pounds. At the auction, its authenticity was revealed. The story behind it is pretty crazy too. The skeleton is fabled to be a young Italian lover whose young miss couldn’t bear to bury. So she kept her dead love always in the house with her thus contained.

Steve Martin Auditioned for Brad Majors

Steve Martin was in the running to play Brad. Had he been picked, you’d have expected a specific comic element brought out in Janet’s beau. But they went with Barry Bostwick, who played a straight dork. His accolades for originating Danny Zuko in “Grease” and being nominated for a Tony probably sealed his contract.


Neither Steve nor Barry were Jim Sharman’s first choice. He wanted to go with Cliff De Young, but that actor was working on a television series. He played Brad, eventually, in Sharman’s RHPS follow-up film, “Shock Treatment” (1981).

It Tanked in Theaters

The film flopped. Its initial theatrical release did so poorly it was pulled from its eight opening cities, and the Halloween night opening in N.Y.C. was canceled. It was panned by critics and seemed doomed for celluloid obscurity. Meat Loaf said it went so badly that he and director Sharman were the only ones in the theater at the Midwest premiere.

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As fate would have it, Fox exec Tim Deegan saw potential in screening it as a midnight movie, a budding trend for young audiences, and talked distributors into re-releasing it. It opened on April Fool’s day in 1976 at the Waverly Theater in N.Y.C.

The Phenomenon and the Invention of Cosplay

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has sold over 55 million tickets since it was first screened. To this day, it plays in over 200 theaters around the world. The film has raked in 491.8 million dollars and counting. The audience participation element evolved over the years by genuine fans who developed the trend. There were no cult classics until this movie. Participation includes dressing up as a favorite character and responding to classic lines with just-as-classic callbacks.


The very first callback from Rocky Horror lore is, “Buy an umbrella!” to Janet as she covers her head with a newspaper, but it’s an interactive experience, and people shout out anything they like.

Creating the Evilesque Dr. Frank-N-Furter

Dr. Frank slaughtered Eddie with a pickaxe, served his corpse up for supper, and corrupted his guests. He’s so wrong! But so entertaining too. He’s like Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil, with the flamboyance of Austin Powers. Breaking the fourth wall was an early convention, yet Curry pulled it off masterfully, gazing directly into the eyes of the camera.

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Tim Curry is responsible for the creative genius behind the mad scientist/alien having developed “Dr. Frank-N-Furter” on stage in London. Curry fashioned that character with finesse. Initially, he used a German accent, but switched to a British blend based on his mother and the Queen of England, preferring the pretentious spin.

Richard O’Brien, AKA Riff Raff

Creator Richard O’Brien, as the legend goes, was an out of work actor who sat home one winter writing the “Rocky Horror” musical (it can only be imagined) to claps of thunder and loud rain. With low brow, pop interests like sci-fi movies, comics, and rock n’ roll, he said the “driving force” was “watching those old movies late at night on the television when everyone else had gone to bed, and getting such pleasure from the creaky plots and the pretentious dialogue, the unintended comedy.”


O’Brien found a willing ally in Australian director Jim Sharman, having worked with him on “Hair” and other productions. The writer portrayed his creepy character Riff Raff on both the stage and in the film, though, interestingly enough, his first choice was Eddie.

He Never Believed It Would Become a Commercial Success

“It had nothing to do with shocking people,” O’Brien said. “I wrote Rocky for me. I didn’t write it with an audience in mind or for it to be a hit.”


Considering the overtly intimate themes, he wasn’t writing it to be a smash sensation, and he never imagined it would become a movie. “When we transferred to the Classic Cinema, I came out of the first night, and Michael White, our producer, said: ‘I think we’ve got a hit, Richard!’ And I said, ‘Have we?’ And I got in the car and went home.”

O’Brien Wrote ‘Rocky’ in a Rock and Roll State of Mind

O’Brien had a shot at playing Herod in “Jesus Christ Superstar” but was cut after his debut performance. Feeling dejected and a little put off by that play’s sterile treatment of rock n’ roll, he began writing what he considered a real rock n’ roll musical.


It was an outlet for his frustration, and, as a self-described “eternal adolescent,” he wrote it with a very playful attitude representing all his low brow interests. As an actor, he was into the cutting edge of cool, not Shakespeare. His creation is littered with pop culture references and allusions, many very subtle and only visible to the trained eye.

A Black and White Opening Scene

The creators intentionally played upon elements in the “Wizard of Oz.” Sharman wanted to go for a darker version of the classic film. To that end, they integrated Munchkin-like sound effects into the “Time Warp” bit. Also, it’s hard to overlook the innocence of Janet and Brad being tossed into the psychedelic land of the Transylvanians, like Dorothy and Toto in Oz.


O’Brien and Sharman’s vision had the film opening with a black and white scene and then splashing into Technicolor when Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s makes his entrance. Fox dumped the idea citing budget constraints. Susan Sarandon, for one, was a big fan of the concept. “They wouldn’t give them the money to process it,” she said, but, “It would have been pretty cool.”

The ‘Time Warp’ Sequence

“It’s astounding!” The “Time Warp” number is vital to the movie and a central component of the vibrant audience partic—i—pation festivities. Yet the truth remains, this musical gem was not a part of the original Rocky Horror script. Richard O’Brien’s finished manuscript produced only a 40-minute show, so they “padded” it with this song. Plus, he said, every musical needs a dance number.


Styled on old-time rock n’ roll ditties like “The Twist,” the high energy dance tune delighted fans. As the narrator chimes in, “It’s just a jump to the left, with your hands on your hips,” theatergoers do the “Time Warp” dance in the aisles.

Scoring the Music

Giving life to the musical, Richard O’Brien teamed up with composer Richard Hartley. According to “The Guardian,” “Richard [Hartley] and I listened to the same records when we were growing up, so we just put all the things we loved in,” said O’Brien, giving the examples of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones.

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For the movie, he said they recorded the backing tracks in four days, and the vocals took a week. To give it a more gothic sound, they brought in musicians from the British rock band Procol Harum. O’Brien said they “sweetened” it for Hollywood by adding strings and a brass band.

Tim Curry’s Makeup

The genius behind Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s goth makeup is credited to Pierre LaRoche. The glam-rock elements were a perfect mix. LaRoche was a fastidious worker. It required four long hours to do Tim Curry’s makeup, and wearing it was hot!

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Finally, Curry learned how to do it on his own. He said it wasn’t difficult; he just had to “stick it on with a trowel, really,” which saved himself and cast and crew untold hours of time.

Sharman Created a Role for Just for British Pop Singer Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull was supposed to play Magenta, a house servant of Dr. Frank, also Riff Raff’s sister. The domestic with Elvira-like hair was a brand-new character that the production team carved out from Columbia, Dr. Frank’s groupie, and lover played by Laura “Little Nell” Campbell. We love her best for her tap performance, which is, quite frankly, the actual reason Little Nell was cast.

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When it turned out that Faithfull was on tour in India for the opening, the new part had to be filled. Patricia Quinn agreed to play Magenta so she could sing “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” and you know the rest.

Princess Di Gave the Film the Royal Nod

Tim Curry was shocked to learn that Princess Diana hoped to meet him backstage while he was performing in a different play in Vienna. To his delight, he was placed at the end of the receiving line so they could chat a bit. She proclaimed that she loved the movie and even said that the musical “quite completed my education.”

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Curry likes to add; she flashed a “wicked smile” as she commented. Prince Charles was less impressed but confident he’d seen the actor on television. It must be imagined the princess was pretty keen on his accent choice!

Glee’s Rocky Horror Tribute Show

In 2010 during the second season, the folks over at “Glee” decided to do an extraordinary tribute episode complete with an EP release called, “Glee: The Music, The Rocky Horror Glee Show.”

Getty Images Photo by FOX Image Collection

The most exciting part of all, Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick, guest-starred as their original characters! With Brad and Eddie both on board, hardcore Rocky Horror fans were heartily indulged. Richard O’Brien made a point of chiming in to complain about the made-for-TV censoring. Sigh. That said, reviews were undoubtedly mixed.

Shadow Casting

Shadow casting is a term that will have you heading over to Urban Dictionary only to learn that midnight movie “Rocky Horror Picture Show” fans invented it. As part of their lively participation antics, one option is to dress up exactly like your favorite character and act out all their parts.


It’s done in mime, so the actors onscreen can be heard. Often, in cities, theatre troupes organize a shadow cast performance staged just under the large silver screen. It’s truly a wonder. Fox let crash and burn at the box office because they didn’t like it is still attracting avid moviegoers.

Home Entertainment Releases

A home video release was available in the UK. In 1987. U.S. audiences had to wait until 1990 to purchase a VHS version. But at $89.95, only the most fervent fans could cover the coin. For the film’s 25th anniversary, 20th Century Fox introduced a DVD version. A Blu-ray came out for the 35th anniversary in 2010.


By the time the DVD release edged near in the late ‘90s, the cast had received zero royalties from any home video release. Susan Sarandon, for one, said she wasn’t about to contribute to Fox’s new DVD version without some sort of compensation. But that wasn’t the end of this drama…

RHPS Influence on Pop Culture

Just as Rocky Horror is a series of pop references, so too is it one of the favorites to refer to. In “The Drew Carey Show,” Drew decides they all should go to the midnight showing, only to find Rocky Horror’s been replaced by a different movie. “The Simpsons” playfully reprised the “Time Warp” number with a Springfield bent for a Halloween special.


“That ‘70s Show” is a no-brainer; it makes sense Fez plays Dr. Frank. But the way “CSI NY” worked it in through plot twists involving audience participation evidence from a Rocky Horror screening was innovative.

The 2016 Flop

Fox had been wanting to do a remake of the original movie since 2002. It finally came out in 2016 after being screened at Cannes and presented as a sneak preview at Comicon in San Diego. On October 20, 2016, just in time for Halloween night, Fox premiered “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” on television to abysmal reviews.

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According to one critic, it “was a strikingly disappointing missed opportunity.” Matt Taninin at “Broadwayworld” also called it “underwhelming” and “sanitized” and said it “felt more like a production on “Glee” than the actual production of Rocky Horror on “Glee” did.”

Royalties? What Royalties?

Susan Sarandon boycotted the Rocky Horror franchise over the DVD release. In 2002, Sarandon told “SCI FI Wire,” “For me, it’s the principle of the thing. There are other people involved with that movie which need some money.” She said. “It’s been a golden egg for the longest time, and it’s the least they could do.” They flatly declined.


Here’s what happened. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” she told the magazine. “When [FOX] did the DVD, and they asked me to do the voice-over, I said, ‘How about giving people some money? You could throw a little money our way.’ And they wouldn’t, and I didn’t.”

The Elvis Presley Connection

The buzz around the Rocky Horror stage show moving to film was hot. Elvis Presley was set on doing a cameo as Eddie, and Fox was too. The King was so impressed by it that he went to meet Meat Loaf and Tim Curry at the L.A. show.


Fox had big plans to make this movie a rock n’ roll extravaganza with Mick Jagger as Frank, Elvis Presley as Eddie, Bowie as Riff Raff, presumably, and, perhaps, Cher as Columbia or Magenta. With those names, ticket and LP sales would’ve been astronomical. To their credit, Fox let the boys indulge their artistic freedom and recreate their stage musical with its original talent.

They Kicked Curry Out

Tim Curry shared a hysterical story with NPR’s “Fresh Air” about The Waverly. He lived just a block away, as it happened. Witnessing the nightly costuming and revelry of the burgeoning underground scene, his curiosity was piqued. He said he called first since it was impossible to get a seat. They didn’t believe him and said he was the third “Tim Curry” to call that week. When he did show up, he ended up getting kicked out by an “usherette” who announced to everyone that he was an “imposter.”

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As she dragged him outside, he showed his passport and said, “Still think I’m an imposter?” To apologies and coaxings to come back in, Curry said, with a flair, we’d all expect, “I wouldn’t dream of coming back in.” He did finally get to see a midnight showing on the Strip in L.A.

Meat Loaf Was Served at the Rocky Horror Birthday Feast

Keeping it real. When Dr. Frank-N-Furter ceremoniously whips the tablecloth off during the Rocky Horror birthday feast revealing Eddie’s remains, cast reactions were genuine.


To capture on film an authentically surprised reaction, none of the actors except Tim Curry and Richard O’Brien were privy to the exposure of what was left of Eddie. At that same table scene, a genuinely pained expression on Janet’s face is also real. Bostwick pounded his fist on the table, and Sarandon’s hand was in the way. Later, she got him back, accidentally, by spiking his foot with a stiletto heel in a dance number misstep.

Dr. Frank was Conceived as a Peroxide Blonde

According to Tim Curry, when he first read the script, he used a German accent, sort of “middle European,” but it seemed “a little used.” Next, they tried it with an American spin, [no comment], and then he said it was the director’s idea to make him sort of a “Belgravia hostess with the mostest.” His revelati


on for the perfect pitch randomly happened. He explained in a 1975 interview, “I just remember being on a bus once and a very sort of débuter lady in a headscarf turned to a friend and said, ‘Do you have a hice in the town or a hice in the country?’”

How Did Dr. Frank-N-Furter Find Tim Curry?

Curry met Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman doing “Hair.” Sharman directed, and O’Brien acted. When O’Brien asked him to audition, he performed Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruity” and the creators were instantly sold.


As for Curry, “It was the script that sold me the show. I mean, I thought the script was just very, very funny. And then the music was a bonus; I loved the music.” After reading it for the first time, he thought, “Boy, if this works, it’s going to be a smash!”

Don’t Dream It, Be It

In an interview, Mark Caldwell asked Tim Curry how he got into acting. Without batting an eye, he said: “I lied and cheated.” Going on to explain, “I left Birmingham University in ’68, and I came down to London, and I met an agent who said that “Hair” was looking for somebody; and I told him I had a full equity card and that I’d done tours of cabaret in the north, both of which were untrue.”

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He auditioned three times for “Hair” and was asked to join the cast. By then, they realized that he had no experience and lied, but they kept him anyway.

Not Patricia Quinn’s Lips

To complicate the story of the lips, ” The Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie posters, like the original ” Jaws” parody pictured here, did not feature Quinn’s mouth. Those lips are Lorelei Shark’s, a former model. She was paid $120 for the iconic image.

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As for Quinn, these days, she is thrilled to be associated with the film’s famous lips. “I love it!” she exclaimed, “Patricia Quinn is to lips what Elle McPherson is to the body.”

Critics Brutally Panned the Movie

John Wasserman of the ” San Francisco Chronicle” found ” The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “lacking both charm and dramatic impact,” even though he liked the London stage performance. ” TIME” magazine called it “campy trash,” and ” Newsweek” wrote it off as “tasteless, plotless and pointless.” It scraped in a humiliating $22,000 on its opening week.

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But after it showed for the first time as a midnight movie in N.Y.C., ” The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was on track to make history as the longest-running movie ever. The beloved cult classic has screened as a late-night movie ever since, sparking a vibrant underground counterculture scene, or as Roger Ebert memorably called it in the ‘80s, a “long-running social phenomenon.”

Rocky Horror’s Hot Pants

Dr. Frank’s creation may have fit those gold hot pants perfectly, but he didn’t like the attention. After the movie, Peter Hinwood chose a low-key path instead of cashing in on the publicity. Memorably, he said, “One, I can’t act. Two, I cringe with embarrassment every time I see myself on film. Three, I relish a quiet, peaceful life.”

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The gold hot pants surfaced again in 1994. He came across them sorting through his house and put them on auction. Hard Rock Café scrambled for the deal and paid him $1,000. Fun fact: His belly button is plugged over in the movie because he was made, not born.

‘The Luckiest Person on the Planet’

Richard O’Brien embraces his fortune and admits he is lucky, but insists, “I never wanted to be rich or famous.” According to “Express,”  “When I was writing Rocky Horror, I just wanted to be happy enough with what I was doing.”

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He wrote it for artistic expression. “The transexual nature of [“The Rocky Horror Show”] is driven from my own transsexual nature, but I didn’t see it as a vehicle for that or a cathartic piece of work for myself.” Today, he’s worth 190 million pounds and is married to his third wife, Sabrina Graf, 35 years his junior.

“Shock Treatment”

O’Brien and Sharman teamed up again in ” Shock Treatment,” an RHPS spin-off movie. Brad and Janet are game show contestants in the 1981 version. The dark comedy is not quite a sequel, but many of the actors did not get a chance to make the hit movie star in it. Brad and Janet are played by Cliff De Young, who Sharman wanted to script for the film, and established actress Jessica Harper.

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To put it bluntly, the team churned out another flop. However, Shock Treatment has developed somewhat of a cult following since and has also been staged.

The Most Famous Callback

It was in 1973 at its original staging in the intimate studio space above the London’s Royal Court Theatre during a performance of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Lore has it that David Bowie’s first wife Angie, was so enrapt by the show she unwittingly initiated the audience participation element. Tim Curry said he saw Bowie with a vast entourage the night it happened.

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Angela Bowie screamed out, “No! don’t do it!” as Riff Raff pointed a laser gun at Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The former American model and journalist is also known for developing the glam rock look that O’Brien took to with Bowie.

How Susan Sarandon Feels About Rocky Horror

Susan Sarandon won an Oscar for ” Dead Man Walking” and holds a string of accolades, including six Emmy and nine Golden Globe nominations. RHPS was one of her first roles. Hilariously, out of the entire cast and crew, she had the most movie experience.

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As an accomplished actress, she explained, “Journalists very often … assume that somehow I’m ashamed of being part of it, and I’m not.” Instead, “I think it’s a great amusing film, and Tim is just-—when he came on stage, that was one the most blistering, shocking, sexy, amazing entrances that has ever been on stage.”

Origins of Gay Pride

Dr. Frank-N-Furter wore a bright pink triangle on his surgical gown.

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His is an upward-facing pink triangle which the gay community embraced as a pride symbol in the ‘70s.

Lift Off!

Spoiler alert! Pictured here is a shot of the final scene just before the entire castle lifts off over clouds of rocket exhaust into outer space, heading back home to Planet Transexual—the plan the evil Riff Raff has been plotting the whole time. With Dr. Frank-N-Furter out of the way, Riff Raff is master of the Transylvanians [evil laugh]. Brad and Janet narrowly escape.


To create special effects, a castle made of cardboard is filmed for the launch. With an entire film budget of no more than $1.4 million, what else can be expected?