The Richard O'Brien Crusade



The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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BBC Interviews Richard

BBC: Why do you think the Rocky Horror Show is still so popular?x

Richard: I think it goes on and on because it is a fairytale and consequently it works on two levels. One, on the surface it is a camp trashy rock and roll enjoyable , you know, ephemeral piece, but also it satisfies. . . on a deeper level on a more kind of , shall we say, it pleases the id as well as the ego, if you like.
It's - it's like all good fairytales do, we listen to the fairy story read to us as children, and then we in turn read them to our children. And we. . . don't really delve into the darker corners of them, but if you did actually , deconstruct them you would find that they were full of menace and and evil and psychological motifs, symbolism, and all that kind of stuff and it's all there in Rocky as well.

And so it pleases on two levels, and I think that's why it goes on. If it was just a trashy kind of entertainment I don't think it would have had this longevity.

BBC: It's really famous for the sort of audience participation. When did that actually start, was that something that you wanted to happen?

Richard: I'm so glad that it did because of course it was, in many ways, a kind of tribute or a salute to the double feature picture shows that I used to go to as a as a spotty adolescent. We always used to sit in the dark- there weren't very many of us there in this little small town in New Zealand.
But all the ne'er do wells, the gauche whey faced youths, we'd shout lines at the screen - appallingly kind of like adolescent and sometimes crude-you know snigger, snigger kind of stuff.
But we weren't alone, I'm sure that was happening in movie houses all over the world where b-movies were being shown, and similarly, you know, adolescent rock-n-roll youth was there.
And when it happens now it is almost as if it has gone full circle, and , it has become almost an art form. . . it's rather wonderful, I like it very much.
It started about two years after the movie was released, we're looking at about- middle to end of '75, '76, it all started.

BBC: You're still really proud of that, that piece of work. But has it been at all difficult to be associated with that one piece of work?

Richard: Not at all. I find that when people start to wear their work around their necks like a heavy weight. . . and go 'oooo . . . I'm more than that' and blah blah blah', and deny the very things that have given them the springboard into more work and a larger career, and a wider career, I just think it's just perverse.
I am very grateful for all that Rocky has brought me, not least some kind of financial security - but that's not really what it 's about either. I mean truthfully I can phone people and say who I am, and what I've done, and mention Rocky- I get five minutes of their time.
It's a great calling card. And I'm very very grateful for it.

BBC: And I read somewhere that there's going to be a Rocky Horror CD-Rom.

Richard: There is, yes. It's nearly reached completion. It's been a long, long job- the programming's gone on forever- I'm sure you're aware of how costly, setting up and programming a game is- and so it's time-consuming. And there's where a lot of your money goes, but a lot of money's been thrown at it, and it seems to be- we're reaching the final stages of that.

BBC: How involved are you with the current show that's touring that's gong to be in Richmond?

Richard: I see myself as a kind of yardstick- for sort of rock'n'roll excellence. I'm not talking about nit-picking and all the rest of it, - but if it doesn't sound good I'm-allowed to sort of like have my two pennies-worth.
And if it doesn't look good I like to know that the production values are high, and that they are maintained, because I think that's so essential.There's no real excuse for them not to be good. Because today, the sound today in theatres is so advanced compared to what we had when we started out. And lighting as well, all that's all become much slicker, just because of new technology, really.

BBC: I know people will remember you as kind of a sinister figure from the Crystal Maze a few years ago.

Richard: Yeah.

BBC: Are you doing any more TV work at the moment? Are you planning anything else right now?

Richard: Every now and again I get people you know- pushing things my way- and asking if I would like to be involved as just fronting the show, because they think I might be suited to their particular project.
But I have to say that very few of the projects appeal to me. And if I did do something, it would have to be something that I found exceptionally appealing. I wouldn't want to just go on television for the sake of being on television. . .I wouldn't want the job of fronting the National Lottery or anything like that - it's just- I don't see any point in it.
The Crystal Maze in the first place was a road I walked down, I never imagined I'd go down that particular byway. And it was kind of a diversionary kind of sideline, I liked it but even at the time I thought - I never saw myself doing this kind of work, I thought I was going to be in the theatre, you know-and film, and that kind of thing.
So I did it for four years and I went, I thought 'I'd better get out of it and quit while I am ahead', and leave it while it's remembered fondly. And also, if I stay here much longer, I'm not going to be able to do anything else, I won't be allowed to do anything else. And I was right in that, because I've just done three films in the last year, and I don't think I would have been able to do those, I don't think.

BBC: What films have you done?

Richard: Well, I was in the Spice Girls movie, as everybody else was. The whole world was in the Spice Girls movie - I played a paparazzo. And then I did a film called Dark City which was released on the 29th of May, this month, that'll be next week, I think.
And then- no the week after.
And then, I've just finished a film with Drew Barrymore in France where I play a baddie, and she plays Cinderella, or a Cinderella 'character'. And , and I've got an album coming out this year of kind of jazz music.

BBC: Do you enjoy being playing baddies? I mean you are sort of a sinister figure.

Richard: I - I think it's because of my- build and my thinness and whatnot that I am obviously going to get cast in that role. I am not going to get the romantic lead am I? Well, that's just the way it is.
Looks are terribly important even though people pretend they are not. People go 'oh, it's nothing to do with looks, he's a good actor' no no . . . but actually, truthfully, you know, if Danny De Vito looked like Sean Connery did , 40 years ago, then Danny De Vito'd playing James Bond.
But he doesn't.
Danny De Vito plays his roles because he looks like Danny De Vito.
I play the roles I play, and get offered the roles I get offered, because I look cadaverous and thin and gothic looking. The nice thing about that is that the older I get the more tragic I am going to look and perhaps the more employable I might become. They'll say 'he looks even worse than he did yesterday- that's great'

BBC: Finally, what are you going to do on Wednseday to celebrate?

Richard: I am going to come on at the end of the show and sing the last verse of Super Heroes, the narrator's verse of Super Heroes at the end of the show. And then I am going to try and get the entire audience to sing Happy Birthday to Rocky , I think we might be able it manage that, don't you? And then we're going tohave a little drinky-poo afterwards

The Richard O'Brien Crusade est. 1996