"Fascinated by the enduring subculture that surrounds Rocky Horror Picture Show, photographer Lauren Everett has spent the last six years attending 20 midnight screenings in more than 10 different states, in theaters everywhere from Kansas City to New York to L.A. She documents the surreal, obsessive, and oddly touching world of the film’s “shadow casts”–groups who attend screenings dress up as characters from the film and act it out as it plays on the screen–in her book, People Like Us."
-Fast Co. Design's "22 Best Photo Essays of 2015"
When Fox Studios released The Rocky Horror Picture Show in September of 1975, it came and went with little fanfare. A film adaptation of a hip underground London musical, it seemed to have failed to capture the frenetic energy of the live show and engage audiences as it had on stage. Little did anyone know it would make an unconventional return to it’s theater roots, set the record for longest theatrical release of all time, and go on to become the ultimate cult movie.
For the past four decades, attending a midnight showing of Rocky Horror has become a right of passage for American teens ; something as ubiquitous as attending your first rock concert, or first high school party. The raucous shows are partly vaudeville’s last gasp - with their explicitly bawdy humor- and part new religion for the sexually liberated and socially progressive. It’s an environment where bold sexual innuendos and puns are used freely with an almost innocent humor. There’s a accepting “anything goes “atmosphere, and a sense of being in a place where the rules of “out there” don’t apply. For regulars and casual aficionados alike, Rocky Horror is a safe-haven where people of all persuasions can go to have a good time and be accepted as they are.
People Like Us documents the tight-knit community of dedicated fans who perform in and produce the weekly shows, and who in doing so, have kept the film on screens in the pop-culture collective consciousness for forty years.
These “shadow cast” performers spend countless hours on painstakingly accurate reproductions of their characters’ costumes, special theme nights, set fabrication, and promotions. The film becomes an anchor for their world, with its gently satirical silver screen archetypes and saucy one-liners lending themselves to an abundance of internet memes and fan fiction.
Images from the live shows focus on the relationships between the cast members and the participatory nature of the film-going experience, while the environmental portraits take the performers out of the theater setting and portray them in their everyday environment. In each portrait, the everydayness of the domestic setting is transformed by the act of becoming something else, and in doing so, evoking the ritual of performance. In this sense, People Like Us explores that ineffable line when the performer ends and the character begins. The film’s tag line and central theme - “don’t dream it, be it” - is embodied in this phenomenon.