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Rocky Horror Subculture - Transience Divine
August 1st, 2005
01:53 pm

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Rocky Horror Subculture
I recently started helping out with the Harvard Square Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Now two weeks in, I am completely intoxicated with the subculture. Lines from the movie, and call-backs, and songs, keep running through my head. I dwell on what happened last Saturday or what will happen next Saturday. I want to analyze every aspect of the culture, and figure out how it all fits together. I realize that it's just a form of limerence, but it's a distracting blast right now.


These are some first impressions I have. Take them not as facts but as a reflection of my perceptions, or a datapoint on a case study in learning a subculture.


  • A good deal of social energy is geared to pushing each other to ever more extreme sexual deviation. Parties appear to be the main context for this, consisting largely of drinking games and sex games.
  • They have a societal safeword ("yellow"), which can apply to any situation.
  • Newbie-hood theoretically lasts two years, with maybe a third of party-goers falling into that category, although a much short span seems to be a more practical hazing cut-off.
  • Most people self-conceive of a division in their personality between how they act during "Rocky time" and "Monday through Friday"-- even if no actual division exists. There is also an information bubble around each party ("What happens at a party stays at the party." -- which is why I'm only posting in the abstract here).
  • Most people enter the group through direct connections-- they're dragged in through friends.
  • Most people are given a nickname.

Current Music: Touch-A Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me

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From:tpau
Date:August 1st, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
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hmm... back when i used to go to rocky, be in rocky, live and breath rocky, i had foudn the harvard sq. cast no fun at all. but i think ti has changed many times since...

hav eyou seen the Teseract cast? they are good. theyhelped us out when we were starting as a club on Brandeis campus. they rock the world.

an dyes, rocky is addictive a s all hell.

what i wnat to know is why is it that peopel who get up on stagein front of hundreds of strangers in fishnets and htier underpants, still hav ea problem talkignin public in class or at work. i know i have that problem myself. and i don't know why...
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From:jrising
Date:August 1st, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
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My attraction is probably a reflection of what I'm looking for right now in life (recapturing my youth).

> what i wnat to know is why is it that peopel who get up on stagein front of
> hundreds of strangers in fishnets and htier underpants, still hav ea problem
> talkignin public in class or at work. i know i have that problem myself. and
> i don't know why...

There are probably lots of reasons. One is that acting is a lot less personal than discussion. In my experience, one can be more vunerable talking than in any other situation. I'm not very sensitive to social expectations, but people who are often find that one situation will demand behavior that another prohibits.

But then, I'm not acting for them. I'm just doing lights. But I'll get to that.
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From:little_e_
Date:August 1st, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC)
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"They have a societal safeword ("yellow"), which can apply to any situation."

you know where this comes from, right?

green, yellow, red--obviously the stoplight, but more closely, the common codewords for bondage sex.
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From:jrising
Date:August 1st, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC)
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Sure. And within a BDSM scene, I would expect for something like that. But, like the SCA's "hold", here it's become an group-wide idiom, which is very neat.
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From:little_e_
Date:August 1st, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC)
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a while back there was an incident of some sort in the military where... *remembering very vaguely* some guys were practicing beating up some other guy, and they ignored him when he said to stop, and things went too far... what i noted about this was that their stop-word was "red". now, maybe these were just a bunch of pervs in the military, but i kind of doubt that for numerous reasons (chief among which is that i like to think that folks from the scene would actually stop at red.) the other idea is that BDSM safewords are slowly trickling into broader society--not just related subcultures.

just thoughts for chewing on. still, very neat. ^_^
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From:siderea
Date:August 1st, 2005 10:32 pm (UTC)
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Well, er, maybe -- then why isn't it "red"?

And amusingly, in the BDSM scene, the universal safeword emerging seems to be... "safeword". (How sensible!)
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From:little_e_
Date:August 1st, 2005 10:45 pm (UTC)
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i wouldn't know, since i don't know the context in which they use yellow. i would assume, though, that the full-stop nature of red would make it less ideal for normal conversations.
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From:jrising
Date:August 2nd, 2005 12:06 am (UTC)
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I believe this is right. Yellow here seems to mean "I'm uncomfortable, so I'm stepping out of the game," where the game is my word for the social push toward sexual deviation. That could be as simple as dropping out of a drinking game when the rules say you shouldn't, or not getting naked when other people are. Since these generally aren't bondage games with things being done to you, there's no need for applying a red light to someone else's actions, just to the general rules of the social situation.

Red and green may also be in common usage, but it was only made sure that I knew about yellow.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 9th, 2005 06:18 am (UTC)
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You speak out of turn, my pet. We are not an experiment. We are an experience.
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