‘There goes my childhood:’ Rocky Horror edition

Writer attended iconic queer cult classic that resonates with people who feel like a freak

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‘There goes my childhood:’ Rocky Horror edition

Moscow resident Sky Ting says they idenitfy with the Disney character Mulan and the song “Reflection.”

Moscow resident Sky Ting says they idenitfy with the Disney character Mulan and the song “Reflection.”

RACHEL SUN

Moscow resident Sky Ting says they idenitfy with the Disney character Mulan and the song “Reflection.”

RACHEL SUN

RACHEL SUN

Moscow resident Sky Ting says they idenitfy with the Disney character Mulan and the song “Reflection.”

ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen columnist

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Just after midnight Saturday, I had to pretend to orgasm as Rapunzel from Disney’s “Tangled.” Into a microphone. While dressed as a slutty forest spirit. In front of the mostly full, 330-seat Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow.

It was the 11:59 p.m. showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and my third time going. I should have expected as much, but I’d never participated in the costume contest before. And when host drag queen Aquasha DeLusty asked me which Disney character I liked best, of course I went and picked the most innocent one in the canon.

Between the five contest finalists, we had to listen to Mickey Mouse, Mulan, the Genie and Ursula all, erm … find the magic. Mickey Mouse, performed by a young man dressed as Freddie Mercury-slash-Rocky, won out. He did the voice a little too well.

“There goes my childhood,” someone in a row near the front called out. The audience laughed and whooped in agreement.

Here’s the thing about “Rocky Horror” at the Kenworthy: it’s a community endeavor. Defeated by a worthy opponent, I gave Freddie a high-five before heading back to my seat for the movie (actually, he almost left me hanging — how humiliating would that have been? In front of all those people!).

Ever since I lost my “Rocky Horror” virginity as a freshman in 2017, the show has been a once-a-year step into the spunky and scandalous. Heckling the onscreen characters, cheering for Tim Curry — the original film’s Frank-N-Furter — and some local actor stepping into the light in a corset and fishnets — it’s not something you do every day. The shadow cast, too, always puts on a show for the ages.

For others, though, the show means a little more. Before gasping out the words “Make a man out of me!” for the acting portion of the costume contest, Moscow resident Sky Ting explained why they chose Mulan as their favorite Disney character.

“[The song ‘Reflection’] is something I’ve identified with again and again,” said Ting, dressed as a “Boujee Pumpkin” in orange mesh and a fur coat. “What is my identity? How will I recognize myself?”

Ting, who identifies as genderqueer and has Chinese heritage, said they performed in the “Rocky Horror” shadow cast with a friend last year after moving back to Moscow from Seattle. They said being in the show helped them find queer culture in Moscow.

Standing in the rice-covered aisle after the show, Ting was joined by Diamond Fields, their partner of almost two years. Fields, marked with the customary red V of virgin attendees, said “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” holds a certain meaning for both of them as members of the genderqueer community.

“[I like] all the gayness,” Fields said. “And the tights — awesome. I like bounds to be broken.”

And that’s exactly what “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” does. Despite being an objectively bad movie, the zany characters and “who gives a f-ck” attitude has resonated with people of all kinds for decades.

It’s empowering in many senses. Never in my reserved, taciturn life would I have imagined I might stand in front of a few hundred strangers and moan in a frankly horrifying way — I mean, come on. I fell in love with “Tangled” when I watched it for the first time at age 12.

That’s the power of the show, though. I felt emboldened, if not quite comfortable, by the unabashed cheers of people I’ve never met and likely never will. For Ting, the show provides them a chance to be, in their words, a “queer-do.”

“The show is a nice reminder that there is a community for that,” Ting said. “It’s a nice chance for me to be a freak.”