There was a free screening of RHPS, three back to back shows at 9am, approximately 11am, and 1pm, on October 31st, 1996 in the Fiesta Room of the student union building at San Antonio College. Of course, I went!
Actually, I went TWICE. The screenings were originally scheduled for Monday, October 28th, so James and I got up early, drove down to San Antonio, taking Wendi along, and when we arrived we were met by Shawn: "Ah, bad news...". Their print of Rocky had not arrived in the mail on schedule so they were about to treat us to what was originally scheduled for Tuesday's Halloween film, Revenge of the Creature, complete with 3-D glasses. Since the Creature from the Black Lagoon is my favorite vintage movie monster, and I missed a 3-D screening of the original film a few weeks ago in Austin, I seized this opportunity and we settled down for a dose of 50s creature feature. Shawn stayed as well, and poor Wendi remained as a captive audience member.
The movie was fun. I've seen it many, many times (I bet Richard O'Brien has too) and have it on tape, but had never seen it in 3-D. The audience was pretty sparse but good natured, with some small asides to the screen and occasional laughter at the sort of goofy 50s movie clichés Brad and Janet pretty much typify. The heroine has a dog named Chris and she was calling him (unaware the Creature has made him into dog hash): "Chris! Chris! CHR-I-S!". Of course James leaned over and whispered "Monkey monkey monkey monkey!" in my ear and I, in my sleepless state, broke down laughing. And he kept doing it! We indulged in a few more of these little asides.
Supposedly Rocky was rescheduled for Tuesday at the same times, so we left, me plotting ways to get back down there. On the way home, we stopped to check at the Tattoo Museum south of New Braunfels - James has always wanted to go, but this was the first time we'd driven by returning from some form of S.A. Rocky in the daytime! It's free, they were nice, and some of the stuff they'd collected was quite interesting. So, as we drove home, exhausted, I said, "Well, it was an adventure. Kind of like when we had to go rescue Chuckie [who used to play Brad] when his car broke down at 3am outside Kerrville, and we ended up getting to see the Hill Country and take pictures of the stuffed three-legged sheep in the Junction town museum."
When I called to check that evening, the Rocky screening had been rescheduled for Halloween, and since James was off again, I could relax and stop trying to figure out how to get myself there. Shawn was going to go and I was going to go with him at one point, but after his busy week of cutting down a tree, being hit in the head with one, a cast walk, doing the Old Bitty Show til 3:30am the night before, and multiple commutes between S.A. and Austin, he just couldn't make himself get up and do it. So I did drag poor James out there after all. We got there a little late - during "I Can Make You A Man" - and settled in. People were scattered around the tables and on folding chairs, and some of the recent San Antonio people were there, doing lines. James joined in. We got a few looks, but no one bothered us or told us to shut up, and some people laughed. They didn't bring any other props, but did scrunch balloons and burst them during Toucha. After the show James and I got food from the student union and returned with our trays to find "Dammit Janet" in progress. (It turned out the clock there was wrong.) We got bolder and did more lines, joined later by the San Antonio guys and their balloons. The third screening there were about eight people I recognized from various incarnations of San Antonio RHPS and most of us pitched in lines throughout. At most of the screenings there were only about nineteen people, and at this one there were twelve of us left by the end of the movie. Some people were dressed up for Halloween, one guy in back was in vague Rocky drag (whiteface, etc., and a black graduation gown), and there were punks in the back, a sight that did my heart good. (San Antonio not being as alterna-tolerant of say, black lipstick in the malls, as Austin, seeing the hardcore kids there always makes me happy.) We all had a good time together at least. I don't know if we scared away the other seven or eight audience members in the process but at that point a friendly sense of community sprang up among all of us who actually cared enough for Rocky to BE in a nearly empty room yelling lines at 2:30 in the afternoon. Afterwards, I took a few photos of people dressed for the occasion, and we all went our separate ways, me feeling very lucky all over again to live in Austin, a city that's managed to sustain a Rocky cast and crew over the years. I feel for all the people in San Antonio who've cared about Rocky and made an effort to keep it going there.
There was a 7:30pm showing that night in San Antonio, at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, which has frequent gay film nights. They had a costume contest scheduled beforehand, and I'm pretty sure a more festive crowd turned out for that particular screening, but we had to be back in Austin for our 10pm Halloween show.
It wasn't the most exciting Rocky experience of my life and they seemed to be projecting the video (with some bad picture quality in places) but I'm glad I went. The Fiesta Room has its own little stage, with strands of silver material and stars hanging on either side. Maybe at some time in the future we could see about a road trip or a show with some of our cast and some of the past San Antonio cast members (and not at 9am!). It's a nice thought anyway. When we got home I turned on VH1, went in another room, and heard James scream "No, no, no!". I came running out: "What?" and he said "Rocky on VH1! No, no, no!". He wore my Dentonvale straightjacket to Northcross that night, and was shouting "I've seen this movie TOO MANY FUCKING TIMES TODAY!". But sitting at Northcross watching "I'm Going Home" at the end of a LONG day, I felt quite pleased to have seen it so many times, somehow, not to rack up extra screenings (I'm not counting the first) but just to have experienced such a staggering (over)dose of Rocky on my favorite day of the year, the familiar images repeating on a big screen, Halloween brain candy for MY warped self. I doubt I'd recommend it for anyone else, but yeah, I'd do it again.
- Joanna Stephens, Cast Historian
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