It’s Almost Halloween! Time For “Rocky Horror”‘s Westport Connection

If it’s (almost) Halloween, it’s time for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Since its release in 1975, the musical horror film has become a cult classic. With midnight showings and audiences miming the action while shouting out lines, generations of punk rockers, genderfluid folks — and many, many others — have embraced the story of a mad scientist/alien transvestite in elaborate costumes.

The “Rocky Horror” trailer is as iconic, provocative, and identifiable as the film itself. Who has not seen the actor with full lips and a sexy voice?

This being “06880,” there is a Westport connection.

The lips and voice belong to Westporter Rhea Ruggiero.

Diehard fans know her name. But not many — including most neighbors — know her story.

Ruggiero began acting in the early 1970s, in TV commercials and off-Broadway plays.

Her route to the trailer — considered the longest-running one in the history of film — began with Jeff Kanew. He went on to direct films like “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Tough Guys.” But at the time, he was the king of trailers.

He knew Ruggiero, and thought she’d be perfect for “Rocky Horror.”

She was.

But for over 4 decades, she’s kept quiet about her role.

Rhea Ruggiero

This month, she’ll begin talking about it. On October 25, she appears at the Palace Theater in Danbury. Her Strand Theater date in Seymour is already sold out. Comic-Con follows soon.

If you’ve ever seen “Rocky Horror,” you can relate to Rhea Ruggiero.

If you never have, you can still appreciate the role our neighbor played in the famous trailer.

And in the words of Dr. Frank N. Furter: “Don’t dream it. Be it.”

FUN FACTS: There are 2 other Westport connections to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Susan Sarandon — who played heroine Janet Weiss — is the mother of actress Eva Amurri, who now lives here. And Meat Loaf (Eddie, the ex-delivery boy) is a former Westporter.

6 responses to “It’s Almost Halloween! Time For “Rocky Horror”‘s Westport Connection

  1. I joined my buddy Derfy Robling when he selling t-shirts and merchandise for the live production of the Rocky Horror Show in the ’80s. Incredible show! Great music and the crowds were crazy.

  2. William Strittmatter

    Wow. What a source of information 06880 is. I always thought it was Tim Curry lip syncing.

    By the way, this movie is really why the Westport Cinema Initiative needs to succeed. At least monthly Friday night midnight showings as a public service to all those that have never seen it (and those that have). It just doesn’t work as well on a small screen. Particularly the lips. The 2016 TV remake was an unwatchable abomination.

    For the first few showings, WCI would probably have to supply the rice, spray bottles, newspapers, toast and playing cards until folks learned what they needed to bring. But maybe they could generate some additional cash flow from a pop-up costume shop where the audience can buy their outfits for the next showing.

    That would certainly bring more life to downtown.

    • William Strittmatter

      Ah…just looked it up. It was Patricia Quinn’s lips lip syncing to Richard O’Brian voice in the movie. Rhea was the trailer. Again, learned something new.

  3. It would be fun to see the film again, complete with all the trimmings mentioned by William Strittmatter – don’t forget the toilet paper: Great Scott!

  4. William Strittmatter

    Turns out you can see it locally. Unfortunately, you have to go the Fairfield.

    https://fairfieldtheatre.org/shows/warehouse/rocky-horror-picture-show-1

    Sad there is no venue in Westport.

  5. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    Meatloaf not only lived here he coached many little league girls softball teams in the 80s

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