Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

“God will think we’re sinning!”

A voice yells out of the crowd, followed by loud booing and laughter at the first meeting of the quarter for Slugs in Fishnets, a student group providing UC Santa Cruz’s answer to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

A student-run organization formed in 1984, Slugs in Fishnets has taken a time-tested teenage ritual and made it more accessible for UCSC students.

“I’ve been going to ‘Rocky’ since I was 16 and living in Los Angeles,” said fourth-year Leigh Pfeffer, director of the show. “As soon as I realized there were shows I could participate in here I immediately got involved.”

For those who are not creatures of the night, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a 1975 musical horror flick, known as a cult classic among viewers at midnight showings. The plot centers on a night of horror for the conservative couple Brad and Janet, who are introduced to alien transvestites from the planet Transylvania, the manipulative plans of the evil Dr. Frank-N-Furter and, above all, uninhibited sexual freedom.

“Rocky Horror” showings are no ordinary trip to the movies, however. A cast of characters shadows the film onstage, acting out the parts of the movie while it plays behind them. Audience members shout along with the lines, adding call-backs and mocking the characters with glee and a bit of contempt.

This is where Slugs in Fishnets comes in. The group casts a set of “Rocky Horror” players to provide the onstage entertainment for the show, as well as a group of “trannies” to put on a preshow and engage the audience in the performance.

“Anyone can audition for Slugs in Fishnets, for any part, and as many parts as they want to,” Pfeffer said. “Really, they don’t have to have even seen the movie. We just want people with charisma and good attitudes about the parts.”

Slugs in Fishnets just finished casting their spring 2009 show. New cast members, such as Porter second-year Rosie Bashaw, are excited over the opportunity to get involved.

“I’m going to be playing the part of Rocky,” Bashaw said. “It’s my first stage part, as I was always a tranny before. I’m kind of getting excited about costuming right now. This should be interesting.”

While new cast members are routinely welcomed to Slugs in Fishnets, many returning cast members vary in the parts they play for different shows.

“I am playing Dr. Scott for this show, but previously I have also played Riff Raff, Eddie and Magenta. Before that, a tranny,” third-year Justin Carroll said. “It was very spur-of-the-moment to audition for Dr. Scott. It’s about doing something new.”

Carroll has been involved with Slugs in Fishnets for most of his time here at UCSC. The commitment of these members shows the dedication involved in the group.

“Way back when I was a first-year, I met a friend in my core class and we got to talking about ‘Rocky,’” Carroll said. “She told me about a group on campus that anyone could audition for. I immediately auditioned the next quarter and I’ve been here since.”

In preparation for the next Slugs in Fishnets show on May 23, Pfeffer and her gang must start getting ready to appease the hoards of Transylvanians.

“We’ve cast the show, so now that means rehearsals two to three times a week,” Pfeffer said. “We’ll watch the movie a lot to get the choreography down right, start working on tech a bit and then selling tickets and promoting the show.”

With prep work just starting, Slugs in Fishnets has substantial ground to cover before its next show. Catch it May 23 at 10:30 p.m. at the Merrill Cultural Center, slightly earlier than the usual midnight slot due to quiet hours.

“It’ll be an early-bird ‘Rocky Horror,’” Pfeffer said, laughing.