Few films have built communities around them the way 1975 cult classic musical “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has. Fans worldwide have formed “shadow casts,” dressing up as their favorite characters to reenact the movie as it shows on the theater screen behind them, and bringing props such as toilet paper and rice to throw during key scenes. The movie is the longest-running theatrical release in history, and continues to screen at arthouse and indie cinemas across the country at midnight on Fridays and/or Saturdays.
Actor Barry Bostwick played Brad Majors in a cast of burgeoning talent that also included Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry, and Meatloaf. “It’s been a love fest for 42 years,” Bostwick says. “I know that’s boring, but it’s amazing how people have been drawn to this film like a moth to a flame, and just keep circling around it and don’t fly into the abyss, but are constantly enchanted by it.”
The cast reunited last year for the film’s 40th anniversary, and this year, Bostwick will host screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in select cities. The party hits Mesa Arts Center on October 22. There will be a costume party before the film, and an audience Q&A with Bostwick afterward. We caught up with Bostwick via phone at his Hollywood home before he left on the tour to talk about the phenomenon that is Rocky Horror.
When you were making “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” more than 40 years ago, what were your impressions of the movie?
I thought it was very hip and groovy, in the parlance of my age group. I thought it was very cutting-edge, at the moment. It was like a documentary of what was going on in society, and in the rock and roll world, in 1975. And it was peopled with incredibly talented young artists, from the costumer to the set decorator, and they were all original thinkers. And I knew this because I had seen the stage version with Tim [Curry] out here in California at the Roxy Theatre, and I could just tell that this thing was – not necessarily ground-breaking, because there were a lot of shows in the ‘70s that sort of tapped into the tongue-in-cheek, let’s-make-fun-of’50s-movies genre – but none of them had the songs and the energy that this show had.
Did you have any idea it would become such a cult hit?
Well, there weren’t really “cult” movies. There were some very sort of weird movies, but nothing that gathered to it a community of people who became repeat offenders, you know what I mean? There wasn’t really any Warhol movie – even though they were playing some midnight shows – but nothing [like Rocky Horror]. It was totally a brilliant idea by 20th Century Fox and Lou Adler to slowly open it, in college towns and in urban areas, and give it a life of its own. Because that’s basically what happened. Within two years, we lost control over it and the fans took it over and just made it into their own evening.
What was it like reuniting with the cast last year for the 40th anniversary?
Well, we all got along so well, so it wasn’t like, “Well, let’s all get together for a photograph and then withdraw to the corners.” Everybody has had a fairly active career since then, and I think we all look on it as one-off, as something that we could never repeat in our professional careers. I think it’s a wonderful curiosity to many of us, and everybody’s on board with it. Tim sort of rejected it for a while because he was having a solo singing career, and all they wanted whenever he got a [gig], they’d say “Sing ‘I’m Coming Home’ or ‘Sweet Transvestite’,” and he got so bored with it and felt it was in the way of him going forward. But he’s behind it now. We saw each other at a convention about two months ago here in Hollywood, and then we did the cover of “Entertainment Weekly” last year. Everybody’s sort of gone their separate ways. I see Meatloaf. We acted together. We did an episode of “Glee” together a couple years ago. And I see the girls, Patricia Quinn and Little Nell, we do maybe two or three conventions a year, comicon kinds of things. Sometimes we’ll host an evening of Rocky Horror. So those of us that are still alive have stayed in touch, I think out of a love and mutual appreciation for the work that was done by some very brilliant people. We were just a small part of it.
What are your reasons for participating in this tour?
I want to try and bring back the film experience, so people can appreciate what I think is the brilliance of the movie. A film that’s the longest-running, continuously running film ever, all around the world – it’s in the Library of Congress. It’s proven itself to be a piece of art that reflects its time, and I think a lot of people have gotten so caught up in the celebration of what goes on in the theater that they’ve lost, in a way, their appreciation and awe, if I might, of just how good the film is, and what a brilliant reflection of the times.
If You Go:
40th Anniversary of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”
7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 22
Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center
Tickets cost $42-$87
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