When word of the Rocky Horror Picture Show remake surfaced, I was skeptical. The remaking of classics has been a very mixed bag, and the chances to mess Rocky Horror are up are pretty high.
But, then it soon became known that Laverne Cox, known by most as Sophia in Orange is the New Black, would be taking the role of the iconic Frank-N-Furter. This assuaged my concerns by a large margin.
Of course, there were undoubtedly concerns on Laverne’s end, and Out recently spoke with her about this and a few other things.
About her concerns of taking on the role, Laverne said: “I’ve never been one to suggest an actor shouldn’t play a role because of their gender or race. All actors are trained to use their own experiences and techniques to become other people. Frank-N-Furter is an alien from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. This is not vérité. It’s a fantasy.”
One of the other things that has been floating around about this film, is the use of the word “transvestite”, which does not mean what it did when the original was filmed in 1975.
Laverne said: “A lot of people have been critical of a transgender woman playing a character who refers to herself as a “transvestite.” But it’s really important to note that in 1975, our understanding of the term transvestite was not the same as today.”
“[Activist] Sylvia Rivera is one of my favorite examples of someone who referred to herself as a “transvestite” in the ’70s. She famously started S.T.A.R. — Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries — with Marsha P. Johnson.”
“These pioneers used the term to further themselves, but we also need to note that, yes, transvestite is an antiquated term. I think it’s possible to have a conversation about how language evolves. We can do that, and we can also enjoy Rocky Horror in 2016.”