Tim Curry, as Dr. Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I have a black and white photograph of Tim Curry as Dr. F-N-F, dressed as above, on my wall in front of my computer. I am now days away from being forty-two years old and this man, dressed this way, singing in that voice that oozes everything, still gets me. I put the photo on my wall because this character was all id. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and he was glorious and fabulous doing it. He worked those heels and he worked a room, and when he moved, everybody watched him. When I feel stuck in my writing, or feel afraid to take a risk or tackle a particular subject matter, I look over at Dr. F, and I ask myself, "What would Frank N Furter do?" And the next step becomes clear.
In high school, I would go over to my friend Diane's house. We'd dress up over there in our fish nets and make up and drive over to Camelview Theaters to see the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sometimes we performed in the stage show. I was Magenta, once in awhile Janet. My friend Diane got to be Frank N Furter sometimes. She had the oozing down. We threw rice, squirted water guns, and we all waited with antici ..... pation (have to see the movie to get that one) for Frank N Furter to come down the elevator stomping his platform heels. When he threw open that elevator door, surveyed Brad and Janet, and claimed his space, we all knew, even if we didn't know we knew, that this was sex. I was not a Rocky Horror virgin, but I was a virgin-virgin, and still, I knew that whatever he was when he opened that metal elevator door was what I wanted -- perhaps not in a marriage partner -- but I wanted to find that place inside me that could exude that energy. I wanted to know how to ooze and I lived for the twenty seconds a week when I could watch him stand fully in himself and sing. I practiced singing the song. Tried to practice the walk (OK, the strut). Dr. Frank N Furter never fell down. In six inch heels.
Frank N Furter is not your best friend. He's not going to co-sign a loan for you. He's not going to show up on time and he's not going to be there when you're crying. He's not going to babysit for you, let you borrow the car, or let you for even one second look more fabulous in your heels than he does in his.
But honey, in 1985 when I was sixteen, I'd have followed him anywhere. A few years ago, I bought the movie (yes, pretty much just for the "I'm Just A Sweet Transvestite" song). I didn't think it would hold up. I figured my year with Rocky Horror was a moment, like so many, that are everything when you're in them, and nothing moments later. But when I was decades away from sixteen and I watched him throw open that elevator door, I still felt that yowza. I'd still jump on that man's, um, motorcycle and I know perfectly well he's going nowhere good. He's freedom. He's risk-taking. He's dangerous and he's unapologetic for who he is.
I don't use Frank N Furter as a role model for my friendships, but on days when it's me and my writing and I'm tempted to go safe, tempted to say, "can't write that -- too graphic, too sad, too angry, too fill-in-the-blank," I look over at Frank N Furter, hands on hips, defiant in his garter belt, mouth painted red and open.
WWFNFD? Damn straight. Write it down. Stand behind it. Own it 100%. No apologies. No baby steps. No skirting around the truth. Own it.
And for that, I'll love him forever. :-)
The seventeen seconds that started it all. Mom, you probably don't want to watch.