The year before I was born, a little movie came out called The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
You may have heard of it?
Now, as astonishing as it may seem, ‘even back then’, the film was a hit (a modest one but still a hit). However, it’s continued to grow in popularity and has had a cult following ever since.
Personally, I discovered Rocky Horror some 12 years or so after it originally came out.
Now of course the film had a certain alchemy about it; the amazing writing, score and performances all contributed to a very much beloved film that still feels fresh and relevant today, nearly half a century on.
Being limited to 4 TV channels as we were when I was growing up (I mean honestly nowadays can you even imagine that?!), it seemed that everyone at school watched the same films over the weekend and we would all hotly discuss whichever movie we’d seen at school on Monday – be it Dirty Dancing, Grease or Rocky Horror.
Unapologetically Rocky Horror
Now, it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes of watching the film to know that in many respects, it is really an Ode to Being 100% Yourself. In fact, Frank-N-Furter is perhaps the most ‘himself’ a person could really be. He’s unashamedly exactly what he is, and he’s magnetically attractive to all around him because of it.
As a 12 year old, I didn’t judge anything about him, or the film, or any of what occurs in it.
I simply watched with massive, and excited, fascin…
Looking back I can see that perhaps my parents might have had some reservations about me watching it; especially given my age however, they can’t have minded all that much because they did let me have a Rocky Horror Themed party for my 13th Birthday.
This looked like: a group of 12- 13 y/o girls all wearing french maid outfits (because that was perhaps the easiest look to achieve?!); plus one notable exception dressed as Riff Raff thanks to a painted swimming cap and some yellow wool; all dancing round my parent’s living room to the Timewarp.
(Yes, I do have some photos. No, I am not sharing them here!)
Let’s not do the Timewarp again.
For the party my mum had offered to have a birthday cake made – to which I gladly agreed. As I was allowed some design input, my specification for it was that it had to have black and purple icing (obvs!). Other than that, I wasn’t too specific – I left it up to the cake decorators to excel at their craft!
Now, when the cake arrived, there was nothing wrong with it. However, despite the gothy colours I’d chosen, it was still decorated in a very traditional way which didn’t particularly match the source material… In fact,
I clearly remember thinking at the time that I could do so much better…
A Dream Come True
Fast forward 2 decades and I had, quite by accident, fallen into making Wedding & Celebration cakes as a side hustle. In addition to my day job (in which I was, as always, very unhappy), I spent hours & hours each week baking and icing various creations,
I have to admit, it was such a privilege to be allowed into people’s lives to help them celebrate their most special of moments. I never resented the huge number of hours I spent at my kitchen table hand making hundreds of sugarpaste Roses or fashioning (yet another) Peppa Pig cake.
So why did I stop?
With a heavy heart I realised that, unless you are like Fiona Cairns, cake making is a tough way to make a living. The average wedding cake would take me 40 hours to complete and yet people would often quibble over paying £300 for it (I mean how much do you want to get paid for a week’s work; not to mention the tools, ingredients and materials involved?).
To be honest, that was quite a decent return for me too! A birthday cake might take me 20 hours + ingredients and yet the maximum I could charge would be £50. I was working for a pittance and whilst I loved the work, I knew I couldn’t finish my day job at 5 and stay at home working again from 6 til midnight every night for less than £2.50 an hour…
It just made no economic sense.
Especially when people would complain they could get a Peppa Pig cake in ASDA for a tenner. But of course there is a humongous difference in quality both of the cake itself and the work that goes into it; but if the only driver of the client is price, well then of course you do tend to get what you pay for:
Financials aside, the thing that I really loved about it though was being the source of so much happiness.
That feeling of spreading joy, the feeling of making someone so completely happy, even just for that short moment, is almost addictive. Over the years, I had people cry, scream and laugh with joy when they saw my cakes. One Birthday cake even caused a small riot at a 3 year old’s party – and that’s something I am actually really proud of!
“Can you just make This.”
Now what you may not know is that, with cake making, most people are fairly prescriptive about what they want; there’s really not as much creative license there as you might imagine.
So generally I would be emailed a picture of a cake that someone had seen and be asked to copy it. I have to say that this was frustrating at times but the customer of course is always right. However, given a few years of experience, age and increased self-belief under my belt, I would have to say that nowadays I would be politely saying that we will do it my way and they can always go to ASDA instead if they don’t like that!
Occasionally though, I’d just be trusted to be the expert and come up with a design all on my own!
And one day the Universe delivered me one such opportunity:
A Theme that I was Oh so familiar with: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I couldn’t have been more excited! Obviously it gave me a great excuse to have the film on loop in the house for days just so I could ‘really get into the theme’. But there was no need; the ideas simply flowed for this cake. I knew exactly what I wanted to make and how I wanted to make it from the word Go.
I used to have a small notebook for all my cake orders where I would sketch out ideas; in about 10 minutes flat, the design was done! The cake was of course a joy to make and, needless to say I was pretty thrilled with the outcome; I know the recipient was too.
It wasn’t just about me being proud of what I had created though.
For me, the point was that I had had a chance to do something that was totally ‘me’; not a copy, not a watered down version of someone else’s creation; something that came 100% out of my own head. And it was brilliant. I seemed to be channeling Frank-N-Furter’s unapologetic energy and I was standing in my power. Yes – that might seem like a fairly over-dramatic way to talk about a cake but it was bloody liberating to just be given a free hand do something I loved, which I knew I was good at.
Plus, the prophecy I had made back on the day of my 13th Birthday Party came true. I had made a far, far better Rocky Horror cake than the one I was presented with that day.
Google: Rocky Horror Picture Show Cake
Nowadays, if you pop in ’Rocky Horror Picture Show Cake’ into Google, my cake is one of the very first search results (out of a possible 24 Million)
And what’s also true is that there are also so many copies and ‘knock offs’ of my cake online now.
Before I did this cake, there were hardly any Rocky Horror cakes online and there was literally nothing like the one I created (there certainly were not any gold top hats, feathers or Frank’s iconic necklace to be seen). I know this because I would always do extensive internet research for any cake that I made and I wanted mine to be an absolute original! My cake has inspired a whole selection of weird & wonderful creations to be made; and of that, I am rightly proud.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
Now of course imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I am fairly sure that, just as used to happen to me, someone will have turned up with a picture of my cake that they have found online and have told their cake maker to ‘just make that’. But it was very exciting to find that after many years of having to copy other people’s cakes myself, the shoe was now firmly on the other foot.
And all because I was given the opportunity to do something original; to be ‘me’; to be trusted to just do my thing, and I came up with something entirely original & (IMHO, brilliant) because of it. It’s something of which I am super proud:
The lessons held within this Rocky Horror cake were, to me, Huge.
It taught me a few things:
Firstly – Trust your instincts. I knew I could make a badass Rocky Horror cake and it may have taken me 2 & a half decades to get there, but I did do it!
Secondly – When you copy, you only ever water yourself down. When you create something wholly from yourself and do what you love, brilliance is assured. As the great Coco Chanel said “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”
Thirdly – Be more Frank-N-Furter! Be Yourself. Own it. Claim it. Give not a single gram of fuck what anyone else thinks. And you will be absolutely magnetic because of it. Many may try to copy you but they won’t succeed. Nothing can beat You at your very best!
Holly Skey is a Relationship Repair Expert and founder of Happily Ever After. She runs an 8 week Relationship Training programme designed to save, heal and radically improve your Marriage.
She encourages people who are ready to ‘take the Red Pill’ to get in touch: email@example.com