1973: The Rocky Horror Show… Come up to the lab…

rocky horror Dr Frank-N-Furter

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Show, the cult stage and screen musical bringing comfort, joy, hope, reassurance and meaning to sexual outcasts since 1973.

Share your memories of the musical that gifted generations of fans permission to be themselves.

The darkness must go
Down the river of night’s dreaming
Flow morphia slow
Let the sun and light come streaming
Into my life

Rocky Horror shone a light in the darkness of everybody’s life. So come all ye outcasts. Let’s do the Time Warp again. Take a jump to the left on a godless and non-conforming Road to Damascus. Dr Frank-N-Furter diagnoses a turning point, a revelation for brothers, sisters, and mainly others. His prescription?

Absolute pleasure…

Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh – erotic nightmares beyond any measure, and sensual daydreams to treasure forever. Can’t you just see it? Don’t dream it, be it.

Excellent advice. A wonderful doctor.

The Rocky Horror Show in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland – no place for queens

I still remember losing my Rocky Horror cherry downstairs in Fortitude Valley’s subterranean Valley Twin Cinemas. Yes. I shivered with antici…


the rocky horror show
Rocky Horror at the Valley Twin Cinemas

The Rocky Horror Picture Show ran at the Valley Twin for years, breaking all sorts of records. Despite — or maybe because of — the state’s repressive Bjelke-Petersen regime, the movie enjoyed unparalleled success in Queensland. Worldwide, The Rocky Horror Picture Show remains the longest-running theatrical release in film history.

And what’s not to love? Among the general high camp hijinks, a cross-dressing bisexual hero and a celebration of sexual fluidity.

Well, really, that’s no way to behave on your first day out!

When The Rocky Horror Show stage production finally arrived in Brisbane, I attended opening night at the Rialto Theatre. May 5, 1978. A monumentally disastrous production but a lavish opening night. Memorably, soap star Mark Hembrow proved the production’s best actor in a role not generally thought to require acting chops… Rocky.

The producer spent a fortune. Extravagant and unwise expenditure — Rocky’s gold lamé swimsuit one of the casualties. It looked great but proved not fit for purpose. Every time Mark Hembrow took a high kick, the audience enjoyed a tantalising glimpse of his testicles. With each kick, it seemed more and more likely that soon everything would pop out. Valiantly, he kicked on.

Unlike the production. It closed early. The producer departed for Transylvania or parts unknown leaving behind considerable debt.

Richard O’Brien

For decades, Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien dismissed his creation as “just a piece of silly nonsense.”

But 50 years after the debut of Rocky Horror, Richard O’Brien revealed to Big Issue that at the tender age of 80, he has finally caught up with the fans.

“Until very recently, I’ve argued that it is just a piece of silly nonsense. But the religious right has started becoming vocal and horrible. Nationalism in America is terrifying. The lack of kindness towards the LGBT+ is astonishing. And we’re taking steps backwards. So, I think maybe Rocky is becoming more important by default.

“It’s a place for the marginalised. I see Rocky, now, as a rainbow event. I’m not a flag waver. Patriotism is the final refuge of the scoundrel. Trump is always on about patriotism, and we know he’s the most unpatriotic person in the world. He divided America, set nice people against each other, and demonised kindness and gentleness and civility. But the flag I would stand by is the rainbow flag. And I think Rocky is important in that respect.”

Don’t dream it,
Be it.
Don’t dream it,
Be it.
Don’t dream it,
Be it.
Don’t dream it,
Be it.
Don’t dream it,
Be it
Don’t dream it,
Be it.

More Rocky Horror:

Violent Clowns And Panto Dames: The Origins Of Rocky Horror’s Frank-N-Furter.

Gay couple claps back at religious protesters outside ‘Rocky Horror Show’.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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