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Rocky Horror Extravaganza

The<i> Rocky Horror Extravaganza </i>cast and crew pose for a photo during a rehearsal at Cargo.

The Rocky Horror Extravaganza cast and crew pose for a photo during a rehearsal at Cargo.

Photo/Anna Hart

The Rocky Horror Extravaganza is at Cargo, 255 N. Virginia St., at 11:50 p.m. on October 31. For tickets or more information, visit cargoreno.com. Pinky Polanski's website is pinkypolanski.com.

“Once we had a family come in with a 3-year-old dressed as Frank-N-Furter,” said Bruce Ganye, referring to last year’s Rocky Horror Extravaganza. “She asked me, ’Can I hit you in the head with my ice pick?’”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film adaptation of a stage production, was released nearly 40 years ago, and it paid a hilarious homage to the science fiction and horror B-movies that came before it. Not long after the film’s release, The Rocky Horror Picture Show rose to the status of cult classic.

While many public showings of the film have shadow casts, where people dress as the characters, acting out the movie as it plays behind them, a Reno group offers something different.

Dressed as characters from the film, local band Pinky Polanski has teamed up with Cargo, a musical venue in Reno, to put on a screening of the film, along with a live performance of all of the music.

“We combine the narrative of a movie with the energy of a rock show,” says John Mendecino, who plays guitar for Pinky Polanski.

The show features Felix Danger on vocals as Dr. Frank N-Furter, Mendiciono on guitar as Brad, Evan Humphries on bass guitar and trumpet as Janet, Ganye on drums as Eddie, and Rory Dowd as the MC as well as Rocky.

While the movie itself is part of the attraction, the focus often goes to participation from the audience and is a vital part of the experience, reminiscent of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 television show, whose basis was a wisecracking peanut gallery watching B-movies.

The audience varies from people who watched it when it first came out in 1975 to some younger audiences. Even a family or two has been known to come out. But you still might want to call a babysitter for the kids.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has everything you could want in a horror film: a spooky castle, a murder, even cannibalism. But it’s also tinged with comedy, replete with musical numbers, and has a fair amount of sexuality that bends rules of gender completely out of whack.

While elements of the movie, along with the bizarre culture of viewer participation, may be a little overwhelming to a first-timer at the event, its founders feel that the live music creates an atmosphere that makes it all a little more palatable to more audiences.

“[Last year] we saw that because of the live music, all the guards dropped,” said Danger. “It allowed people to be comfortable, especially with the overt sexuality.”

For those who are familiar with the antics that are part of the tradition of watching the film, this event won’t disappoint. From throwing toast to yelling obscenities and dressing in drag, it’s all become a standard that the members of Pinky Polanski have held on to, while adding a rock music backbone.

“Part of what we do with bringing in the energy with the rock music … is appeal to those who didn’t have a connection to the cult flick and who didn’t have a connection to Broadway show tunes,” said Humphries. “We draw people in, where we can all enjoy the strangeness and the inclusiveness that this show represents.”

With a live band singing about the classic time warps and sweet transvestites, Reno’s screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is sure to be a unique experience for traditionalists and newcomers alike.