How long has The Rocky Horror Picture Show been playing at Portland’s Clinton Street Theater? The answer will make you shiver with antici…pation. In fact, it will do more than that, it’ll make you whistle and say, “Dammit, Janet, that’s some dedication.” (I didn’t even mean for that to rhyme, I should become a songwriter.) All that to say, Portland’s Clinton Street Theater has been playing Rocky Horror for 43 years, and one person is keeping the midnight screenings of the beloved cult musical going strong during the pandemic — even if the theater is completely empty.
There’s no movie that dominates midnight screenings like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and no theater embraces it more than Portland’s Clinton Street Theater. The Portland landmark has been playing Rocky Horror every Saturday night for 43 years, and they’re not going to let one pesky pandemic break that streak.
According to The Oregonian (via Nerdist), Nathan Williams, host of the theater’s regular showings and mega-Rocky Horror fan, would ensure that The Rocky Horror Picture Show played at the Clinton Street Theater every Saturday at midnight, even if the theater was officially closed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Usually, he would just play the movie for himself. Every now and then, a friend would tag along. But mostly, The Rocky Horror Picture Show played to an empty theater for 54 full weeks.
“I watched it alone. I watched it during the snowstorm. I was in a position to keep a flame burning, to keep a torch lit,” Williams said in a video feature with The Oregonian.
It seems like a silly tradition to maintain during a pandemic, but to Williams, it was one small thing he could do “for all the weirdos, for all the people who don’t have a safe place to call home, we’re home.”
But The Rocky Horror Picture Show won’t be playing to an empty theater for much longer. Williams will soon have fellow fans to do the Time Warp with, as the Clinton theater opens its doors in a limited capacity. On April 3, the first Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings since the pandemic took place before an audience. They only sold 50 tickets per show, and the shadow cast from the Clinton Street Cabaret did not perform along with the film as they usually do. As of now, they’re capping the maximum amount of tickets at 50. But the theater hopes it can host full Rocky Horror screenings again soon.
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