I asked Mike Getz, “What’s your advice for ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ virgins?” Mike responded, “Prepare for anything. You’re going to be surprised. There’s nothing like it.”
Mike Getz goes back with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (RHPS) to 1977. Mike’s considerable experience juicing the “midnight movie” market started in Los Angeles at an art house cinema in the early 1960s. His devotion to this niche spread to San Francisco and on to helping shepherd a nationwide midnight movie circuit.
In the early days of the RHPS phenomenon, more than half the audience were virgins (first time seeing the film). When RHPS comes to the Nevada Theatre October 24 and 25 for the film’s 40th anniversary, who knows what the percentage will be. Mike’s advice to non-virgins of the RHPS experience, “Just come and enjoy it. You don’t get tired of it. There’s still lots of great sex after the first time.”
Although Mike had overseen long successful runs of RHPS across the country, he was still an RHPS virgin when he spoke with the Nevada City liberal arts commission about showing films at the Nevada Theatre. RHPS played four Saturday evenings in January 1979. In March, the Getz’s weekend series – shifted to Sunday evenings – took hold with an Ingmar Bergman film festival. This cultural marker for independent film-mindedness is still going strong in its 36th year.
Mike says that finally seeing RHPS was exciting and fun. Yes, he joined in the audience participation: “I’ve yelled at the screen. It’s contagious. You become more uninhibited.” He thinks he remembers his wife Barbara attending a showing in costume. Not incidentally, Mike praises that he could never have made the Nevada Theatre film series or their Grass Valley movie venues as successful as they have been without Barbara’s capable and complementary partnership.
RHPS has long been the flagship “midnight movie” type movie. When Mike says that the phrase “eight weeks at a time” should be part of his epitaph, he’s referring to the orchestration of eight week sets of programming he’s perpetually put together. When RHPS came along, it ran in some theaters for months, years. Mike calls to mind cult films such as “Pink Flamingos” and “Eraserhead,” but nods that nothing comes close to a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screening.
More than fifty years and counting, Mike Getz has been selling tickets to picture shows. “I enjoy showing movies,” he says. “I enjoy that people are coming to see movies that I’ve picked for them to see.” The first film tickets he sold in Nevada County ($2 in 1979) were for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” When this 1975 film returns yet again to the Nevada Theatre, event trippers no doubt will be there bopping: “It’s just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. With your hands on your hips, you bring your knees in tight. But it’s the pelvic thrust. They really drive you insa-yay-yay-yay-yane. Let’s do the Time Warp again.”