Most high school introverts don’t find themselves acting on stage a few years later in a G-string thong. Then again, junior Raphael Falkoff does not lead the life of most.
Falkoff has been a performer with Transylvanian Nipple Productions theater company in its “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shows for about two years. Playing roles from the lead criminologist, to “Rocky,” Falkoff said he has memorized the script.
The 1978 musical is known for its science-fiction feel, with plenty of sexual overtones, dancing and audience participation. The Asian studies and religion double major said his start in theater was gradual.
“When I was really little, I would ask my mom to bring in a stereo into the playground and my friends and I would have little dance parties,” Falkoff said.
“When high school came … I really [came] into exposing myself not only in theatrical means, but also socially.”
Falkoff became president of the film club his senior year of high school, starring in his own film. A fan of the movie, he came to the production’s first show at the Film Institute in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
“Well, I didn’t have anything to wear, so I just wore a thong,” Falkoff said. “And then I became ‘Naked Guy.'”
Falkoff was then invited to participate in the show as an audience member. Whether
acting as a piece of exercise equipment or sticking out his caboose as a ‘gong,’ Falkoff was at home on the “Rocky Horror” stage. Soon after, he met one of the regular cast members, Nicole, who plays “Columbia,” at a club.
“I introduced myself and said, ‘Hi, I’m Naked Guy.'” Falkoff said. “And [Nicole] said, ‘Oh, my God you’re not naked!'”
The door had been opened and Falkoff was hooked. He joined the cast of members ages 18 to 35 years old. His first time on stage was a bit unusual. Prepared to help with lighting, Falkoff was summoned by another cast member and told to put on a costume – the costume of Janet, a female part.
Unfazed, the actor said he had so much fun playing the quirky role.
No venue is too small or too unlikely for a staged or impromptu performance of “Rocky Horror.” Last week, Falkoff said, he missed his train with a cast member at Market
East Station, in Philadelphia. Soundtrack and radio in hand, the pair staged a performance for commuters, passing the two hours until their next train.
“That’s the heart of theater,” Falkoff said. “Anywhere, anytime, you just go for it.”
Transylvanian Nipple Productions was formed by two Temple graduates, in the late 90s.
The two founded a “Rocky Horror” club, now inactive, at Temple and formed a cast from its members. They started in small venues, just for the enjoyment and appreciation
for the movie. Falkoff said this past year, the company has enjoyed travel and extreme success.
Devoted fans of the show sometimes overstep boundaries, some once ‘crashing’ an important event separate from the “Rocky Horror” performance in a hotel. Falkoff said that fans this dedicated also have helped bail them out in dire situations.
When only three cast members found the venue for one performance, fans filled in the lead roles to keep the show going.
When not in the grand lights of the theater stage, Falkoff practices and teaches martial arts, spending about four hours a day practicing aikido and Tai Chi.
When he graduates next fall, he is looking
to study healing medicine at the College of Oriental Medicine in Oregon for graduate school.
He said he looks forward to having “Rocky Horror” stay a part of his life for a long time.
“Now it’s scary how verbatim I know it,” Falkoff said. “I’m picking up things I never would have imagined, after seeing it … and acting in it hundreds of times.”
Brianna Barry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.