Editor's note: This story has been updated.
Dolores Slagle, junior general studies major, said she first watched “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” during her sophomore year of high school when her friend “plopped [her] down in front of the TV and said [she] wasn’t allowed to leave until [she] saw it.”
“We made popcorn and watched the movie, and afterward, I looked at [my friend] like she was the strangest person I had ever met,” Slagle said. “I did not understand anything about the movie, and I thought it was so weird. It wasn’t until she went into detail and explained everything about it and how it was before its time that I actually understood everything about it.
“I fell in love with [Rocky Horror] and wanted to spread the message that it is okay to be yourself and identify as whatever you would like because you are your own individual.”
At the end of her freshman year at Ball State, Slagle sent in an audition tape for the role of Janet after hearing from a board member there were still open positions.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is more than just a movie; it’s an interactive movie that requires props. Each venue and group like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” Shadow Cast has its own rules about what props are allowed. Below is a full list of props involved, and there is a star next to ones students can use at Ball State.
- A newspaper *
- Water pistol
- Candles or flashlight
- Rubber gloves
- Noise maker
- Toilet paper Toast
- Party hat*
- Playing cards
“I was so nervous [to audition], but I ran home and pulled one of my friends out of bed to record one take of a Janet audition,” Slagle said. “I didn’t exactly know what to do, but I was dancing around and pulling off clothes for the song ‘Touch Me,’ and I anxiously waited to hear back.”
Slagle later looked at the cast list, and she said she was “beyond thrilled” to find her name listed under Janet.
This year, instead of auditioning for another acting role, Slagle became the costume designer for the show after giving a proposal to club members who then voted her to fill the position.
"I have always loved making clothing and costumes,” Slagle said. “I started when I was young because I am really tall and can't find pants that fit, so I’d make my own.”
Peyton Jones, vice president of the Ball State “Rocky Horror Picture Show” Shadow Cast, said Slagle’s skills redesigning costumes more than 10 years old have made her “an absolute sewing godsend.”
“She has an abundance of creative and cost-efficient ideas to create new pieces and repair our current ones,” Jones said.
Samanta Robbins, senior visual communications major who plays Eddie in this year’s performance, said Slagle has helped her transform into Eddie, who’s a “burly biker man” and “completely different from the other characters.”
“[Slagle] is the sweetest woman who works meticulously to make a dozen corsets fit a diverse set of actors,” Robbins said. “... The costumes in Rocky are simply iconic. They can be reinterpreted to reference the many different internal themes. Rocky costumes are purposely outlandish and campy which is perfect for the Halloween tradition.”
The costume design process takes time, Slagle said, but she has a routine she follows. Her first step is assessing the club’s costume budget.
Slagle then sketches ideas for costumes and meets with the directors to finalize the designs. Once she gets each design approved, she begins working with the actors.
“I get everyone’s measurements, and then I get all of the fabric and patterns that I need,” Slagle said. “I will typically spend a three- to four-day period where I bust everything out.”
After she completes the costume, she makes sure each one fits the actor it was made for and checks for any complications.
“I always want to make sure that my actors are comfortable in the pieces they are wearing,” Slagle said. “If there are complications or alterations that need to be made, then I spend the rest of the time before dress rehearsals to fix anything and everything.”
Slagle also has the task of making sure Rocky Horror’s signature outfits were true to the original film.
“I have to make sure that [the characters] are very sexual beings by the end of the show, but I also have to make sure that there is no nudity whatsoever,” Slagle said. “There is usually some taping of clothing to the skin if we believe there could be any slippage. There are also many layers of underwear due to the stage lights. There is no reason anything should be ‘out’ or seen.”
After her work redesigning costumes this year, Slagle said, she is most proud of her costume design which allows Rocky to quick-change in front of the audience.
“There is special rigging with the costume that allows the audience to be left in awe once he is revealed,” Slagle said. “That is one of my favorite accomplishments.”
Alongside the pride that being a part of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” Shadow Cast brings Slagle, she said, she is grateful the club offers a place for students who feel like they don’t have a voice or a place they can feel safe in.
“This is a place where anyone can be anyone they want to be if they are discovering themselves,” Slagle said. “I will gladly go on that journey with them because I care about everyone like they are my children.”
Jones said Rocky Horror emphasizes acceptance and respect both on and off the stage.
“Rocky Horror has always been an open, safe space for all students,” Jones said. “We bring a big focus to consent, being that the show is very sexual in nature. We also do introductions with our preferred pronouns to help normalize this act.”
For Slagle, being involved in Ball State’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show” Shadow Cast has brought more than friendships; it has also brought her confidence.
“I have become so open because of this club, and I’m not afraid anymore,” Slagle said. “I want to be able to explore life and not feel judged about it, and this club has taught me just that. I couldn’t be more grateful.
“Rocky has been a true blessing in disguise. I have been in all sorts of shows, but this is the one that holds the biggest place in my heart.”
Contact Taylor Smith with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @taynsmithh.