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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Rocky Horror CHIKARA Show?

wBelieve it or not, the demographics of these two fandoms are more similar than you may think. I mean, just look at me. I love both. I fit the bill perfectly. And I've met others who fit the bill as well. Case in point, a gent by the name of Joey Daly who I first got to know over the summer at CHIKARA's annual Young Lions' Cup tournament. Eventually through talking it came up that not only were we also fans of Rocky Horror, but were also part of shadow-casts that perform along with the movie at midnight showings.

Which brings me to my main point, the big similarity between the Rocky Horror fan base and the CHIKARA fan base is the massive amount of audience participation that can be seen at their respective events. The huge difference being that CHIKARA is promoted as "family friendly sports entertainment" and they take that label very seriously. I'm quite certain that 75-80% of the things said at a Rocky Horror showing would get one kicked out of a CHIKARA event without refund. But that doesn't mean the crowd sits mute while attending a CHIKARA show. I think Joey summed it up nicely, "While CHIKARA frowns on profanity and Rocky doesn't, both praise creativity in cheers, and as with the live version of Rocky, it's always a little impressive when you can get the performers to acknowledge you. Bonus points if they don't know how to respond."

My thoughts exactly. At both Rocky Horror showings and CHIKARA event, there are standard set responses and reactions to some situations. At a Rocky Horror showing, any time Brad Majors' name is mentioned, the audience responds by yelling "Asshole!" At a CHIKARA event, when Icarus makes his entrance it is standard operating procedure to boo him loudly and at length as he makes his way to the ring. A chant of "Worst in the world!" directed towards him during the match is also appropriate and encouraged. At a Rocky Horror showing when it's time to do the Time Warp, you get up and do the Time Warp! There is no exception to this rule. At a CHIKARA show, when UltraMantis Black makes his way to the ring you must stand and pay homage to him by bowing, otherwise you will meet your DOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!

And believe it or not, props aren't uncommon sights at either show. At a typical Rocky Horror showing it's not uncommon to be showered with rice, confetti, toilet paper, toast and playing cards as the evening progresses. There's a team in CHIKARA called Los Ice Creams. They are a pair of ice cream men, and I don't mean the kind who drive around in a Mister Softee truck. What you have here are living, breathing, walking men made of ice cream. Occasionally fans bring containers of sprinkles which the Ice Creams have used as weapons against their opponents in the past. Trust me, it makes sense in context. It's been a common practice in Japan for fans to throw streamers in the ring to show support for a particular wrestler. This has become increasingly more common at CHIKARA shows within the past year. The streamers flying around do sort of conjure up the image of the flying toilet paper at Rocky Horror showings, so the parallels are becoming even more apparent.

Lastly, I'd like to briefly touch on Joey's point about being acknowledged for your participation and the performers not knowing how to respond. Joey told me about a time where he yelled to a wrestler named Delirious if he'd "pin [his] opponent for a Scooby Snack". Not that Delirious probably would've had much of a response since his character is that he mumbles and yells rather incoherently whenever he has something to say. Another great moment dealing with props at a CHIKARA show occurred at one of the shows at Young Lions Cup weekend this past summer. Alex, another up-standing guy I've met through attending CHIKARA shows, brought a small flock of rubber ducks to a show. The reason, these were props to cheer on "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush whose nickname - not surprisingly - is "Quack". As Mike and his partner Jigsaw made their entrance for a match that evening, Jigsaw was the first to spot the ducks and pointed them out to Quack. Not that we'd be hard to find since we were sitting in the front row. But seeing Mike Quackenbush crack up as he realized what we had done, that was a really entertaining and gratifying moment. And, why not, I'll finish this paragraph with an example of me not knowing how to respond to a crowd. Near the end of the movie, the Criminologist - the character I usually play - has the line "What diabolical plan had seized Frank's crazed imagination?" One of the audience responses to this line I had heard (and used) in the past was "What diabolical chicken stepped on your forehead and shit on your necktie?" So one night, I'm performing, we get to this moment and I hear someone else from my cast yell this line out from the audience. And even though I knew the line was coming, for whatever reason it took me by surprise and I completely broke character, laughing silently at the line. Happens to the best of us, hehe.

If you're a Rocky Horror fan, I highly suggest you come to a CHIKARA show. I know there are a lot of Rocky Horror fans in Northeast PA, specifically in the Scranton area. There's a show in Easton, which is only about an hour away from Scranton, on February 20th at 4:00. I promise it'll be a very enjoyable 3 hours of entertainment if you don't have anything else going on that afternoon. Check out for more details.

If you're a CHIKARA fan, definitely check out a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show sometime. By doing some searching on Google, I'm sure you'll be able to find a showing some weekend in your area. And if you want to see my cast perform... for now, I know our next date is October 29th in East Stroudsburg, PA. Come check us out if you get the chance. And if any other dates come up in the meantime, I'll certainly let you know about it.

CHIKARA's Season 10 Premiere is Sunday, January 23rd in Philadelphia. As the Premiere looms on the horizon, I'll close with this last observation from Joey Daly, "Those of us who are drawn to Rocky or Wrestling usually have to keep that part a little hidden, because of the cultural stigma attached to it. Thus when we all get together there is a release as we get to revel in our chosen activities amongst people who won't judge us for it." I guess the general rule of all fandoms can be summed up from the "moral" or Rocky Horror, "Don't dream it, be it."

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