The thing about Rocky Horror Picture Show is that all the sexy, heroic men die and only the unsexy men—I mean this in terms of bodies but mostly in terms of minds—get to survive. Meat Loaf, who died today, played Eddie, a delivery boy, who for much of my life was the RHPS character I pined the most for. Because I mean look at this man:
Anyway, in the height of the pandemic I wrote a likely unpublishable essay about the ways RHPS intersected with, amplified, and informed my younger body’s developing eroticisms. Who cares, right? But Meat Loaf died today, and though I was never a fan of his music, I loved him, desperately, for enough years that today, in honor of his life and what he gave me, I want to share this excerpt:
In a dream, you walk through your home, which may be the home you live your waking life inside or may be a home your dream has fashioned for you. You turn a dusty corner, open a suspect door, and there it is: a spare room you never knew about. Or sometimes it’s a whole wing of rooms, expansive, promising, ready to be filled. For a long time, that’s what sex became: an extra wing. An affirmation that somewhere within me lay an allure I didn’t know I had. Or a strength. There’s a wish we quiet young men have to shout the loudest inside a loud room.
I grew up to have a quiet voice, and quiet voices wait. There’s going to be a lull. Really, any minute now. Eddie bursts literally onto the scene without so much as a pause, his arrival announced by a siren, an urgent blinking light, Columbia screaming his name. He is a wild, undead thing, an icy, sideburn’d blast from the past, wearing denim and leather, with a motorbike and a saxophone—all the paraphernalia of the dangerous boy your parents are quick to hate.
Eddie wears HATE on his left hand. His danger is that he needs nobody, he doesn’t even need to be looked at. Eddie is all eyes; the gash across his forehead forms a bleeding unibrow to frame them, and at one moment, singing to Columbia, his eyebrows pop with a subtle shrug, suggesting both how passionately he can fall for a girl just from the taste of her, and how little it really matters, how this sort of thing happens to him every time he crosses the street.
The flash of that look floods Columbia with a sea of promises. It’s as dense with feeling as a deathbed’s I’m sorry. For years I watched and waited for it.
Eddie’s body is nothing to look at. The body is something to fuck with. Shoot up junk with. It’s a barrel, a boulder, a bulk that blocks everybody’s path, and it serves as a means of bringing other bodies closer. All he has to do is pull one finger himward and Columbia comes running. He expects her to. Just the sight of him makes everyone in the room scream and run, but soon he has them all dancing, singing a song about fucking teen girls.
Do they know they’ll soon be singing songs about Eddie? “I very nearly loved him,” Columbia will say, and for years I wondered what it was that held her back. When you see sexy bodies everywhere but a mirror, you don’t feel that sex is yours to try. Sex becomes for other people, like jiujitsu or Finnish. I never had a Rocky body. All I wanted was to be looked at by a big man telling me how fun sex was. What more, I wondered, could love be?
LOVE is on Eddie’s right hand. His jerking-off hand? Eddie the ex-delivery boy embodies dark secrets and regrets and failures. The promise of Rocky is that manufactured sexiness can be made real. The promise of Eddie is that your first attempts, your shortcomings, your monstrousnesses will return and haunt you. They’ll show up the moment you think you’re free of them, requiring you to dig out the pickaxe. Add it to Eddie’s allure: he’s alive for 3 minutes and 20 seconds, but they can’t stop talking about him. What a guy. He’s the loudest man in the room, even long after they eat him.