There comes a time in every young person’s life when they must be exposed to the hedonistic, transexual world of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I remember watching it with my cousin for the first time when we were aged roughly 13ish, and it was like a door had been opened in my mind that I never knew had been shut in the first place. To this day that first glimpse of Dr. Frank-N-Furter stomping those incredible white, bejeweled platform heels makes me shiver in antici……pation. My cousin and I dressed up as Frank-N-Furter and Magenta, respectively, for Halloween for years. Three years, to be exact. I’ve dressed as Magenta and Columbia for live showings, and I ate a peanut butter cup off the crotch of a stranger as part of my virgin initiation.
Even though The Rocky Horror Picture Show turned forty last year, it’s still altering the brain chemistry of impressionable youth to this day: earlier this school year, my eighth grade book club girls asked me if I had ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I smiled and told them that yes, of course I had, and my coworker/old friend said “has SHE seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show? If only you knew, girls.” All of their faces lit up at this confirmation that I was already a member of the weirdo club to which they had just been initiated.
Though I have never had the chutzpa to dress as him, Frank-N-Furter has always been my favorite character, so without further ado, here is what I think he would read.
(Aside from an assortment of pulpy science fiction with campy covers, that is.)
Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley: This one’s a cheap shot, but I had to go there, you know?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Because let’s be real, if Frankie had the opportunity to capture his eternal soul in a painting and then go do all the twisted shit that’s in his heart with impunity, you know he’d do it. Also, I think Wilde and n-Furter would be REALLY good friends.
Dracula by Bram Stoker: Maybe I’m projecting my knowledge of Richard O’Brien’s love of this classic onto Frank-N-Furter, but all I’m trying to say is that he most definitely would keep his succubus daughters in the basement to prey upon bumbling Englishmen.
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia: I don’t think I need to explain this based on the title alone. But let’s just throw in that this is one of David Bowie’s top 100 books, so between the subject matter and the commendation from Bowie I’d say it’s a safe bet.
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach: Let’s not forget that Frank-n-Furter is an esteemed scientist, a scientist who likes having sex with everyone, a scientist who also has a sick sense of humor, and so let’s cue up Mary Roach to tell him about some sexy science experiments in her own droll way.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein: This is one of the landmark/foundational books on gender by a transgender woman, and she even has an updated release called Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, co-edited or compiled or whatever with S. Bear Bergman.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine: Considered one of the best punk rock memoirs, well, ever, this prize piece written by Viv Albertine, one of the founding members of The Slits, would 100% be sitting on Frankie’s bedside table.