Each month, Mayfair Theatre, in partnership with the Absent Friends shadowcast, present Rocky Horror Picture Show, a sulphurous night of debauchery from start to finish—or should I say, foreplay to climax.
Rocky Horror is a midnight spectacle like no other. The film itself pays homage to science fiction B-movies and widely celebrated for its excessive, yet transgressive depictions of transexuality and homoeroticism. Interestingly, Rocky Horror made its world premiere in Ottawa as part of FilmExpo ’75, prior to its widespread (and critically-panned) release. The film shifted to the midnight movie circuit where it took on a life of its own, bringing about the tradition of audience participation and shadowcast performances.
Ottawa’s own shadowcast, Absent Friends, are no stranger to fishnets, corsets, and gobs of ruby-red lip gloss. For nearly a decade, the troupe of student actors and burlesque dancers have taken center-stage at The Mayfair to ‘shadow’ the original on-screen performances, down to every eyebrow raise and Rated-R romp. Minutes into the madness, it’s easy to see why they hold the title of Canada’s best-attended Rocky Horror shadowcast.
During the Halloween string of shows, Kellerman and crew prep ‘participation kits’ (for purchase) to ensure everyone is in on the insanity: bubbles, newspaper, glowsticks, toast, toilet paper, and playing cards, along with party hats, noisemakers, and instructions on when/how to use them.
“Audiences are huge part of every show,” says Sam Kellerman, Director of the Absent Friends (and moonlighting as the film’s main protagonist, Dr. Frank N. Furter), “We encourage everyone to dress and act every bit as raunchy, racy, and ridiculous as the on- and off-screen antics.”
Midnight Mass begins with a virgin sacrifice. First-timers, aptly named ‘virgins’, are branded with lipstick V’s drawn onto their faces and welcomed to join in a gentle hazing: a gauntlet of butt smacks, culminating in a double-ended dildo love tap. And while this initiation is a dose of lighthearted (albeit sadistic) fun for newcomers, it’s just one small fraction of the main attraction.
Rocky regulars come prepared for every monthly screening. During the Halloween string of shows, Kellerman and crew prep ‘participation kits’ (for purchase) to ensure everyone is in on the insanity: bubbles, newspaper, glowsticks, toast, toilet paper, and playing cards, along with party hats, noisemakers, and instructions on when/how to use them. It’s the only place in Ottawa you’ll find a Carleton student in fishnets yelling obscenities while a civil servant in tighty-whities hurls toast towards the stage—except perhaps Fringe Fest.
Rocky Horror flips The Mayfair into a house of titillation. From the opening striptease to the showstopping grand finale—a steamy ad-hoc orgy involving Kellerman and crew—crowds expect a performance nothing short of salacious. As Kellerman puts it: “Rocky Horror fans come to be chilled, thrilled, and fulfilled. And we always deliver on that promise.”
The Absent Friends shadowcast take the stage for seven epic shows this month at The Mayfair: Oct. 26 (9:30pm and 11:45pm), Oct. 27 (9:30pm and 11:45pm), and Oct. 31 (7pm, 9:45pm, and Midnight).
Tickets are $10 for members ($15 for non-members) and can be purchased in-person day-of at The Mayfair or in advance starting Oct. 23, see here for more detail. Participation kits will also be on sale for $5, with proceeds funding costumes, props, and makeup.
And while Halloween marks the pinnacle of Rocky Horror madness, Ottawa moviegoers have plenty to look forward to throughout the year. The Mayfair and Absent Friends keep their shows fresh with new themes and ideas, including a Star Wars-Rocky Horror crossover, a Holiday special, and the ‘Hat Show’, where cast members draw their characters out of a hat minutes before the curtain draws. Ottawa, now is the time to give yourself over to absolute pleasure
The Rocky Horror Picture show runs Oct. 26 (9:30pm and 11:45pm), Oct. 27 (9:30pm and 11:45pm), and Oct. 31 (7pm, 9:45pm, and Midnight). Please note: The Mayfair is cash-only, but an ATM is located in the lobby.