I can't remember a time that I wasn't aware of Rocky Horror. I know my first experience actually seeing any footage from the film was the Cold Case episode. I was young, but I loved it, and knew that the first chance I got, I had to go see it for real.
A few years later, I was going bowling with my high school friends, when I suddenly noticed something: In the same lot as the local bowling alley was a movie theatre, Cinema Center 3, and the marquee read "SAT MIDNIGHT ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW"!
I went to my first showing in the last week of summer 2007, the week before I started college. I was eighteen and had done a little research to know what to expect (I basically just read the virgin's guide here on RockyHorror.com). I was nervous about being sacrificed, so I must admit that my first time seeing the show my whole group lied and said we had been there once before. (I've since made up for this by being sacrificed dozens of times in three or four different theatres).
Swawn as Eddie
So after watching the virgin sacrifice, I finally saw my first showing with cast Formal Dress Optional. I absolutely loved it and throughout the two years getting my degree I came back as often as I could. During that time I made friends with the cast and they wanted me to join. I resisted. I had crippling stage fright. I resisted for a long time, using college as an excuse, saying that I didn't have time. Inevitably though, I graduated and no longer had an excuse. After enduring pressure from the cast all summer I finally put in my application that fall.
I performed for the first time in November 2009. I pulled together my first Eddie vest in the three days prior to the show, using a T-Birds jacket from the after-Halloween clearance section of Walmart as my base. I've since played the majority of the roles at least once or twice, but Eddie is still by far my favourite. I eventually stepped up my costuming by Eddie-fying a real leather jacket, and now I've commissioned a fellow cast member to custom make me a base jacket that should look perfectly accurate.
About a year after joining FDO, in December 2010, a position in cast management opened up and I decided to go for it. I'm proud to say I was selected for the job, and I still hold it to this day. I'm one of two cast managers, and I think I do a pretty good job. At the very least we haven't destroyed our cast yet.
My first convention was 4711 in Atlantic City, and it was a blast! I was thrilled to meet Patricia Quinn and Gary Shail. I've now also been to the Celluloid Jam 2 in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky and the Last Rockycon in Arizona. I plan to attend every con I possibly can. I've already got my room booked for RKOCon in Rhode Island.
Shawn with Patricia Quinn
I also traveled to Pittsburgh to be an extra at the filming of Perks of Being a Wallflower. I even was lucky enough to get some screen time in the scene where Charlie plays Rocky for the first time.
The most memorable moments of my time on Formal Dress Optional tend to revolve around our theme shows. For a cast member's final performance before moving away, we set up our first black light night. We killed our normal lighting; set up as many black lights as we could find; then switched out the costuming for similarly-shaped costumed in as many crazily UV reactive colors and patterns as possible. This was my first time playing Frank, decked out in an orange zebra print top with pink polka dot bottoms and pink fishnets. After the show people called me "The Jazzercise Frank".
Another moment that particularly sticks out in my mind is when I played Crim after having been sleep deprived most of the week. A little Asian girl on cast asked to do my Crim makeup, which turned out very different than I had anticipated. Everyone seemed to agree that my makeup reminded them of Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. The audience loved it and we had a great show. At the diner after the show I hit that perfect combination of sleep deprivation, exhaustion and adrenaline - something just snapped. As "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey came on the jukebox, I found myself not only singing along, but up on my feet and dancing. The other diners looked at me blankly, but if any giggled I ran across the diner, leaped up and serenaded them. The manager of the diner loved it and, laughing, actually turned up the music for me. We perform in a college town and I know a couple students, so later in the week I asked if any of them had heard about someone running around the diner that Sunday morning. The response I got was brilliant: "Yeah! My music teacher was there and he said some crazy transvestite was running around, screaming at everyone!"
Although that night was particularly extreme, it is the epitome of why I do Rocky. Just a couple years earlier I had been incredibly introverted, with enough stage fright that I stuttered while giving the shortest of lectures. The night in the diner was a turning point for me. Rocky helped me loosen up, and I feel like that night was the night I completely broke out of my shell. I must admit I still have a bit of trouble with public speaking, but Rocky has done so much to help me grow into the person I wanted to be. I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Last year, in October 2012, I decided that Rocky had become such a big part of my life that I was finally ready to alter my body for it. I took my best friend, Ari, and for her birthday I got us both tattooed. She got Frank's BOSS and 4711 tattoos, and I of course got Eddie's skull tattoo. We've since wondered if doing that actually made them less accurate as the actors' ink was fake.
These days I work as a graphic designer during the day, then when I get home sometimes for a change I decide to design some more. This has led to some fun things such as my printable Dr. Scott note, Crim's Time Warp diagram, and the tags from the weight set and pommel horse. All of these can be found for free at www.shawnhalldesign.com/Assets/Pages/RHPS.html.
I also volunteer for Rockypedia.org, slowly but surely trying to assemble a full list of all the Rocky Horror shadowcasts that have ever existed. The full list is on Rockypedia.org. If you know of any casts that could be added to the list or if you have more in-depth information for any cast, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll add it for you.