First Encounters

Sex, Candy, and Androgyny: My Lifelong Obsession With ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

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First Encounters is a series in which writers explore the media that inspired their first brush with their sexuality. Whether it was a book, a cartoon character, a film, or a painting, we all have one cultural artifact from our adolescence that informs how we think about our bodies and desires for the rest of our lives. Have a First Encounter you’d like to share? Send your story to submissions@nerve.com.

Tim Curry makes me feel really weird feelings. Not Tim Curry, as in, the actual sixty-eight-year-old human man, but Tim Curry, as in, Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I tend to forget about my weird psychosexual thing with Tim Curry until Halloween comes around and I think about my childhood best friend and me rooting through our pillowcases of corn syrup and chewing on bubblegum cigarettes. Her parents were high school teachers by day and played in a local, 100% non-ironic ABBA cover band by night, and they periodically let us dig through their drawer of movie musicals, John Waters camp films, and Kevin Bacon classics on VHS.

We headed upstairs to her room with a grainy copy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and handfuls of Easy-Bake oven cake mix packets that we ripped open and ate dry like total fucking badasses, because after recovering from the initial astringent effect of pouring dry cake powder into our mouths, that shit was delicious. My friend and I waited for her parents to fall asleep or do whatever it is ABBA-impersonating couples do in the evenings, and she introduced me to the sweet holy magic that was Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N’ Furter.

Allow me to establish the late-90s vibe:

Frank-N-Furter’s sex scenes in Rocky Horror weren’t the first I’d seen, but they were the first (implied) queer sex scenes I’d ever seen, and they were infinitely more fun-looking and entertaining than the massive snooze that was Titanic’s boring-as-hell car sex scene. Every year on Halloween, my friend and me sat on her bedroom floor as we basked in our simultaneous boners for Tim Curry in leather, fishnets, and stilettos. I can say this because I’m gay, but it was really, really gay, and I’m super gay for Tim Curry. My perma-boner for Curry as Frank-N-Furter thoroughly fucked up my conception of gender in the Curry-est of ways.

Frank-N-Furter is an androgynous sex god/dess, non-binary, and sexually fluid, and he genuinely does not give a fuck about anyone or anything. Some might call him pan-/bisexual, but he’s intentionally ambiguous. I don’t even know what The Rocky Horror Picture Show is really about because my friend and I would fast-forward to the parts with Tim Curry. Tim Curry singing, Tim Curry dancing, Tim Curry doing sexy science things.

There was part of me that wanted to be him (we had the same haircut only his was way better), and part of me that just wanted to look at his butt in those leather shorts every day for the rest of my life. I understand this is a really weird thought for a nine-year-old to have had, but I also know for a fact that I’m not the only person harboring a lifelong infatuation with a fictional character played by Tim Curry. There’s a Tumblr page dedicated to Tim Curry and his butt. The Curry fandom is small yet mighty.

I have a big, lesbian crush on Tim Curry. And I know that if I were Tim Curry, I’d feel very uncomfortable right now.