Friday Flashback: REMembering Audience Participation

We continue our salute to the 35th anniversary of the American release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and it’s impact with this vintage piece of television news reporting.

As the midnight screening audience participation phenomenon spread across the country, local television stations were quick to pick up on it. And in it relatively conservative 1970s, it was easy to point cameras at kids dressed outrageously to generate a little controversy, ratings and usually some snide condescension from reporters.

But what makes this clip shot at St. Louis’ Varsity Theater interesting is one of the interviewees. Right at the 1:25 mark is future REM frontman Michael Stipe in full Frank N Further makeup and costume. Although there is no date information on when the piece originally aired, it was probably produced in 1977 or `78 while Stipe was living across the Mississippi River in Colinsville, Illinois before heading to be an art major at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia and future music stardom.

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About Rich Drees 7034 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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