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Cast Blog: Calipornia

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

CaliporniaOne time, I asked Chris Evans’ mom on a date. Another time I made someone laugh so hard they almost died. Sometimes I also shadow cast the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Let me go back (to what seems like forever to me) to when I was 14. Rocky Horror was playing at The Oaks during Halloween, and I sort of just stumbled into it. I had no idea what to expect, and I’d never even seen the movie before (but I did do a half assed Brad costume). Being a virgin in a Halloween crowd is electrifying, let me tell you. The whole night was a blur and I had no idea what had just happened but I knew that I had to be a part of this. I wish I could tell you that I had a calling to join cast that very night, but the audience is what dragged me in. I was absolutely amazed at all these precisely times jokes in sync with the movie. All my life I’ve been a bit of a comedian. I have very distant memories of being two or three and cracking jokes to make my fellow preschoolers laugh. Not having very many friends going through middle school and high school, I always used humor as a bit of a way to be like “Hey guys! Remember I’m here!”. After telling a joke, you know you’re friends with that person for at least thirty seconds. So seeing the audience land a good joke in of a crowd of 300 something made me know that Rocky was the place I belonged.

After this one beyond perfect night, Rocky was gone. At that point, the JCCP didn’t have regular showings. And I was already hooked. I got the DVD for Christmas and watched it every single night religiously. Not only that, but I read every single AP (audience participation) script I could find on the Internet- which is a lot, by the way. I was armed and ready with call backs with no Rocky Show to do it at. Nearly a whole year passed before I would be able to see Rocky in a theater again. Around September of the next year, I finally found Rocky again. It was playing at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont. I dragged my friend this time, now dressed as Magenta to go see the movie I loved with all of my heart. There were about four people in the audience that night. The audience was so dead in fact that Lady Tramp (who was playing Magenta that night) dragged me up on stage during the movie to do the Time Warp.

Thankfully, the JCCP had gotten their regular shows back. I went to every single show. Every single show for years. I’ve missed one show in the entire five years I’ve been going to see this movie. I was debating every since I started going regularly if I wanted to join cast. I wasn’t (and still aren’t, to be completely honest) much of an actor. Plus, after watching the same people act out this movie to perfection for four years (at that point) it makes you a little nervous to join. But I pushed through and got an audition anyway. I auditioned as Riff, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that it was absolutely terrible. I was a nervous wreck. Somehow, the cast decided to take pity on me, and voted me into full cast.

When I auditioned it was just a few short weeks before the Halloween shows- which everyone know is basically Rocky Christmas. So right after my audition, Sideburns approached me and asked to speak to me outside. When outside, she told me that they were short a Janet for the big Saturday Halloween show and asked me if I would be able to do it. I agreed, even though I was about throw up at that point. I stumbled my way through my first group rehearsal ever AND as a main character but I was determined to at least do well on stage. Those weeks leading up to the Halloween show, I basically lived at Sideburn’s house. I was over there every other day rehearsing Janet. I wish I could tell you that when the big Halloween show came, I blew it out of the water and was the best Janet there ever was up on The Hollywood’s stage. But I was just okay. However, I did make Shpadoinkle, who was my Brad break character and laugh during the show.

At that point in my life I was in high school. Like everyone else in high school, I had absolutely horrible self esteem, and body image. Couple that with the stress and you don’t exactly get a great combination. During middle school and high school, I was on the cross country team and track team. I was never the best on the team. I peaked during my 8th grade season and just start slowing down after that. With all my teammates passing me up, I wanted to be just as fast as them. Sometime around this point was when I start getting really bad anxiety. Something about not being the top ten like I used to be in 8th grade was driving me crazy. I would cry from being so anxious both before practice, and after. It was getting so bad to the point that if I knew I had to run a race my body would just shut down. I was already so exhausted from thinking about the possibility of having a panic attack. My junior year, I had panic attack so bad over a race, I just quit on the spot. The year and a half away from cross country, coupled with Rocky really helped me with getting my anxiety to a (somewhat) manageable level.

Unfortunately, my my negative body image hasn’t improved much since high school. You might be wondering “Hey, Calipornia, why do I never seen any pictures of you on JCCP’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube or MySpace?”. I have, and I will be upset for hours after seeing a picture of me on one of the social media sites. The combination of my face, body and over all being in pictures (or videos) has, and will have me crying for ridiculous periods of time coupled with self hatred. If you’re an audience member- I know what you’re thinking. “If you hate pictures of yourself so much, Calipornia then why do you go around taking selfies with half the audience?” And I would tell you this, dear audience member, that a selfie is a controlled pictures of myself. I get to have fun with an audience member while angling out a certain part of myself that I don’t like, or making a really ugly face just to make a point. If you ask me to take a full body pictures I will probably integrally cringe. However, Rocky- which has been with me during so many up and downs in my life has this magical quality to it. I don’t know what it is, but on any given Rocky Saturday (or, Friday) I can look in the mirror and think I’m best goddamn thing on this Earth. Something about Rocky Saturdays make me somehow more beautiful. I’m so proud of myself that I can strip in front of a crowd as Trixie or lose all my clothes as Magenta and be wearing the world’s most see through sheer and feel incredibly confident in myself in the moment. That’s why you’ll see me mostly likely see me running through the crowd proclaiming that I’m the cutest cast member there ever was, because right then I am.

For everything Rocky has helped me do in my life, it also manages to get me into some of the most embarrassing situations imaginable. This would not be a Calipornia blog, if I didn’t mention the time I got into a fight with Stephen Chosbsky. For a short while between when I first saw Rocky at the Hollywood and when I first joined cast- the Hollywood lost the ability to show the movie. It was about five months (I think). During those five months, I was obviously upset and missing Rocky terribly. There is absolutely nothing like seeing Rocky Horror at The Hollywood Theater. (Trust me, I’ve been to see plenty of other casts and theaters.) Rocky at The Hollywood is so special, in fact, that Stephen Chosbsky wrote about it in his award winning novel; The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Showing Rocky at this particular theater is so incredible that not only did he chose to write about it, but when filming the movie they also chose to film the Rocky scenes at The Hollywood. One day, a year or so after Perks of a Being a Wallflower had completed filming, Stephen decided to tweet how wonderful the Hollywood was and how you should donate to keep this beautiful theater up and running. This is where I decide it would be a great idea to tweet at Stephen Chosbsky ten times in a row. They were all different, very mean tweets but the general summary was “If you love Rocky, and The Hollywood so much- then why aren’t you donating to help bring it back?”. Since I was basically harassing Stephen Chosbsy, a wonderful man who mean so much to the Rocky community over Twitter, he then tweeted me back a nasty message saying how he was doing all that he could. Flash forward to Halloween 2014. I was in cast at this point and Stephen Chosbsy decided to come visit The Hollywood for a Rocky show. Arm and prepared with the tweets printed out, I shyly approached Stephen Chosbsy. I apologized for interrupting him, but told him there was something I wanted him to sign. After looking over the piece of paper with the tweets printed on them for a moment, he looked back up at me and said “I remember you. I really am doing all that I can to help this theater.” Of course this story has a happy ending. I wouldn’t tell you all this if Stephen Chosbsy still hated me. We made up and promised to best friends forever. He also promised to follow me on Twitter. (Which he did not. But you should. Follow me on Twitter.)

My signed Twitter fight with Stephen Chobsy is just the tip of the iceberg to my Rocky collection. I might get into a fight with some of my fellow cast members, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my Rocky collection is one of the most extensive in our cast. A few highlight of my Rocky (and Shock Treatment) collection include, a film strip taken from a Tim Curry music video (Thank you Kevin!), a Shock Treatment Canadian release poster, and a whole display of Rocky trading cards. If I were to name all everything in my collection, I would be typing all day. This isn’t to say I have the biggest collection in the whole world, because I am far from that. But I sure do have a heck of a lot of stuff. With that said, I am an expert on this million dollar movie (that’s right, the budget for this movie was about 1 million dollars- Rocky fun fact for the day). So next time you see me be sure to come test my knowledge or at least ask me about it so I can tell you a fun Rocky fact. It’s what I do best.

Any one out in our audience should never be afraid to come talk to me (or anyone else in our cast for that matter) about Rocky. At least for me, it’s the thing I love the most. I always want to talk about it. I know when I was an audience member, I was slightly intimidated by this group of people. Shadow casting seemed pretty glamorous from the sidelines. Now being in cast, however- I can promise you it’s not all sparkly sequins. You know the Time Warp, right? Obviously you do, audience member. You’ve seen the movie (if you haven’t- drop everything you’re doing and buy tickets to our show). The song that goes “jump to the left, step to the right”? It all seems pretty easy. Just follow the directions that the sing in the song. Right? Wrong. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve rehearsed that Time Warp. And I’m not even talking about the times I’ve been either Riff or Magenta. Transylvanians (or, as we call them ‘Transies’) rehearse the Time Warp like crazy. There have more than a couple shows where I was Captain of the Transies and messaged everyone that was a Transie that week a 10 page list of the dance movies and costuming. You wouldn’t even believe how much work goes into one show behind the scenes. I can assure you; everything that we present on stage has taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears, glitter and hot glue to put together. So you damn well better clap for us.

One of my favorite quote of all time is from Sal Piro (president of The Rocky Horror Fanclub, and was in the first Rocky shadow cast- like, ever). He said shadow casting this movie is like making love to it. I honestly believe that. This is the greatest movie of all times and it speaks to all kind of different people in all kinds of different situations. So, remember that next time you’re sitting in the audience- or even shadow casting it, if any of my fellow cast is reading this, we’re part of this really special odd thing. It’s been going strong for 40 years, and we’re gonna keep it that way. Punch a wall, be hilarious, and always remember the rule; “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong”.

 

Delete this,

xoxoxox Calipornia

 

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Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

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