‘Rocky Horror’ in the round: Roller derby teams do the time warp again at Yokota
Stars and Stripes September 27, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Roller derby teams from the Tokyo area recently did the time warp, dancing in costumes and skates for a “Rocky Horror”-themed roller derby match at this airlift hub in western Tokyo.
The Fuji Horror Roller Derby Show drew nearly three dozen skaters to the Samurai Fitness Center for an hourlong competition Sunday afternoon. The event took inspiration from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a cult classic musical-horror-comedy film released in 1975. It marked its 48th anniversary on Tuesday.
“It makes you feel more comfortable when the teams are dressed up and expressing themselves,” Jay Hudson, of the Zama Killer Katanas, said at the event. “I like to see people genuinely be interested in going all out and enjoying themselves while they’re doing something competitive like this.”
Members of teams from area U.S. military — the Katanas from Camp Zama; the Fuji Flatliners from Yokota; and the Sushi Rollers from Yokosuka Naval Base — broke up to form two squads, the Black and the White, for the event. They were joined by local Japanese teams the Samurai Cats and the Samurai Warriors.
Some competitors dressed as characters from “Rocky Horror,” just as aficionados of the film still dress up and perform at midnight showings of the film.
Adrianna Seda of the Fuji Flatliners — derby name “Booking Betty” — said her team came up with the theme.
“Since October is going to be so busy and we can’t really do Halloween, we decided to hold the Fuji horror derby show,” she said. “It just worked. Several of us are really big fans of the production.”
“Rocky Horror” debuted in 1973 as a stage production at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London. The film debuted two years later. A flop at first, it was relaunched three years later as a midnight movie in New York City.
During these showings, audience members dressed up as characters from the film and acted out the scenes in theaters as the movie played. Audiences shouted call-backs, popular responses to scenes in the movie, and sang and danced in the aisles to well-worn musical numbers, including “The Time Warp.”
“Rocky Horror” remains the longest-running theatrical release in film history.
On Sunday, Diana Ulloa-Montes, from the Zama team, dressed in a maid outfit as Magenta, played in the movie by Patricia Quinn.
“This event was the first event that I was like, I absolutely need to dress up for this,” she said.
Ulloa-Montes — derby name “Bend and Snap” — frequented midnight “Rocky Horror” showings in college.
“It was rated R because you had a man who had relations with a man and a woman,” she said. “If released today, I don’t think it would receive an R rating, though today there is still a lot of stigmas against queer people. And I think ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ has a cult following because it allows people to be seen.”