The Westdale brought The Rocky Horror Picture Show's magic to Hamilton
This Halloween, The Westdale screened the 1975 cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with an extra special drag pre-show with Hamilton drag performers
By Naomi Moshe, Arts & CUlture contributor
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been drawing in audiences worldwide for over 45 years for a reason. The cult classic film is not only jam packed with fun, but it is also a landmark piece of cinema for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The film exudes the message of radical self acceptance, and being unafraid of the hidden desires that live deep within all of us––a sentiment that the queer community of the mid 1970’s desperately needed to hear. As a result, midnight screenings of Rocky Horror became safe spaces for the queer community to socialize and connect with one another at a time when simply existing as a gay person in broad daylight was a dangerous act.
When I heard that The Westdale was screening Rocky Horror on Halloween night, including a special drag pre-show with local Hamilton drag performers Jessie James and Karma Kameleon, I knew I needed to go. Besides, is there any better way to spend Halloween night than heckling profanities at a giant screen surrounded by hundreds of other people?
The atmosphere at The Westdale was, in a word, electrifying. Of course, crowds of people dressed up as characters from the movie. But more importantly, people were genuinely excited for the show, even though most people in attendance probably have seen this film more times than they could count on both hands. The energy was infectious––the entire theater was buzzing with anticipation.
The drag pre-show, hosted by Jessie James and Karma Kameleon, was a blast. Karma and Jessie performed campy lip syncs of songs from the movie’s soundtrack, including “Dammit Janet” and “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me.” The highlight of the night for me was Jessie’s incredible live vocal performance of “Sweet Transvestite.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Jessie shortly after the event to get some insight on the importance of nights such as these for Hamilton’s queer community.
“Visibility is so important. I didn’t see myself growing up, and I struggled a lot with that. Being able to put on public events where people can come see us be explicitly queer, it’s the first step in having a conversation about [queerness.] It demystifies the queer experience. It brings a lot of joy into it,” explained Jessie.
When asked about her personal highlight of the night, Jessie said that it was when the whole theater got up and did the Time Warp with her and Karma. “To look out into the audience and see everyone standing up and dancing along…There [are] very few words I could use to describe the energy you feel from that. It’s almost addictive in a weird way,” said Jessie.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to bring together people from all walks of life, even 45 years after its release. And, for Hamilton’s LGBTQ+ community, events like these create space for authentic self expression and unapologetic queerness.