“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was originally a musical parody of B movies created for the stage by Richard O’Brien. O’Brien penned the original stageplay along with all the music, also starring in it as Riff Raff. He reprised his role in the film, which Jim Sharman helped him adapt for the screen by co-writing and directing. When it comes to deciphering the meaning behind “Rocky Horror,” the co-creators prefer to leave things open-ended.
“There is sort of an ambiguity in it,” Sharman told The Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think anybody can completely explain it. I think that’s the interesting story. I think it must be something in the DNA of the movie.”
However, the story behind the very beginning of the film does offer an alternate take on the ending. The opening number “Science Fiction/Double Feature” was sung by a female usherette in the original stage production, blending the reality of the theater and the world of the play, but Sharman had other ideas for the film.
“I never forgot Richard [O’Brien]’s haunting, yet slightly androgynous, voice singing ‘Science Fiction’ the first time I heard it, so I thought he should sing it,” the director told the New York Post.
But O’Brien’s mouth didn’t quite fit Sharman’s vision for the floating set of lips that we see onscreen. Instead, those lips belong to Patricia Quinn, the actress who plays Magenta. This wasn’t a random choice, though — it also has some bearing on the plot. Sharman imagined that “Riff Raff and Magenta somehow coalesced into one androgynous being” to perform the number. If that’s true, it’s possible that the very beginning of the film actually takes place at the very end, as Riff Raff and Magenta return to their home planet in their true, combined form.