The Richard O'Brien Crusade



The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Sanity for Today

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Please remember to write Richard through the fan clubs. That is the only mail he will accept.


Taken from the Daily Radar Website

DRUK: You're working on a Rocky Horror sequel?

RO'B: I am at the moment, yes. I'm up to the first song in the second act. I've written all the songs in the first act, as far as I know, and now I'm going to write all the songs in the second act. It seems a strange way to do it, but it seemed to me that I had to enjoy doing the work. Writing the sequel was so daunting, the whole concept of going down the same boulevard and not doing anything more than a soap opera carry-on, it had to have some kind of merit of its own including the same characters, and it was rather intimidating. I had the beginning of it from the original Shock Treatment screenplay that I'd written, which was very different from the Shock Treatment that ended up on the screen. Basically it's Janet having a baby and it's obviously Frank N Furter's baby. There'll be other people making claims to it, but it's not really about that. It's more a study of whether Frank's the right kind of person to become a parent. It's interesting getting the narrative sorted out; I've done a flow chart and it seems to work on a flow chart basis.

DRUK: How did you get Frank back from the dead?x

RO'B: Oh, he's resurrected. Dr Scott is a scientist after all!

DRUK: What do you think the Rocky Horror hardcore will make of it?

RO'B: I don't know. I think that if it works it's not a problem. I think Rocky fans will judge it on its entertainment merit. If it's funny and the songs are good and it rocks along again, and it's not just a sop to people's expectations... And so far I feel it has. I'm asking the same questions the fans are asking, and if it gets to a point where I'm dissatisfied then it goes in the bin.

DRUK: Do you find yourself writing lines and anticipating audience participation?

RO'B: I've no idea, I wouldn't try and second-guess that. The thing that makes Rocky work in its own phenomenal way is that all that's been organic. I never tried to elicit that sort of response; it all happened naturally. It's interesting because when I used to go and watch B-movies and late-night schlock-horror as a teenager, we used to shout ruderies at the screen, but it was very yobbish, gauche, corny kind of stuff, and those were the very films that spawned Rocky. And then Rocky started to get this almost orchestrated response, and I thought that was a kind of growth in itself. Rather marvellous, really.

DRUK: Are you working to any kind of time scale?

RO'B: No, I'm under no pressure whatsoever. It doesn't really matter; even if I only write a line a day, there are 365 days in a year, that's 365 lines. That's all right!

DRUK: You've recently been in the Dungeons and Dragons movie...

Richard O'Brien: There's a movie called Dungeons and Dragons, which should be released this year. I only had a small part in it. It seems to me that its subject matter is perhaps a few years too late. I'm not sure - I don't want to say anything that might upset the producers or the other players - maybe there's a market for it. I don't understand the film industry at all; I've been in several films lately where I don't understand where the money came from, or how, or why, when I've read some first-class screenplays that never get made, and I've read some stuff - I'm not saying Dungeons and Dragons falls into this category - but I've read stuff and thought, I don't understand who's backing this or why. I don't know what their target audience is. That always amazes me, that a lot of films get made and no-one's sat around a table and asked what their target audience is.

DRUK: It's all decided by committee, isn't it?

RO'B: I'm not quite sure how it works, actually. I really don't know.

DRUK: The Hollywood machine seems to spot a trend and you get a load of
movies in the same vein...

RO'B: I don't think anyone in the studios ever makes a decision; they don't dare. You make a decision and it's a wrong one and heads roll. They say that a flop's born an orphan and a hit has a thousand fathers, and it's kind of true. So if you were employed and you're on a three-year contract, you're not going to shake the bars of the cage too much.

xDRUK: Maybe the system's building a net of people to blame further down
the line.

RO'B: I don't understand why the money's got so big, I don't understand stars getting $18 million, this is an area I don't understand at all. I don't understand this obsession with blockbuster. It's nice to see Gladiator, it's a marvellously shot movie and it's wonderfully directed, and that's $80 million. But one person getting $10 million or $18 million, I don't understand why you spend that amount of your budget, when a decent film could be made for $3 million by relying on imagination. I'm looking at a digital Handycam here (it's true; we recorded this interview on our little office Handycam), and I've got one as well, and it's broadcast quality, and I think this may well be the salvation of the film industry. I think people will be making lots of small movies on this very format.

DRUK: The Blair Witch Project, of course.

RO'B: Well, Blair Witch Project is a one-off; I didn't go to see it, and it would have bored the arse off me from the bits I saw about it. I understand the obsession about it. I was in the States when it was released, and the big discussion about it was that it was made for half a crown and a Mars bar. The merits of the film itself were never discussed, but the fact that it became a blockbuster and that it was made for something like $300 thousand, that made the dollar signs light up...

DRUK: They also did a good job of marketing it on the cheap, and building
up the 'is it real, is it fake' hype.

RO'B: It was nice to see that it could be done. The next Eraserhead could come off a digital camera. You can make music videos on these things for next to nothing.

DRUK: Speaking of music, any plans for another album? (Richard brought out an album, Absolute O'Brien, early last year. He calls it 'apartment jazz', it's fine late-night listening, perhaps accompanied by your favourite artificial relaxant.)

RO'B: No, but I went to see a show last night called The Rat Pack. It was three guys pretending to be Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin, and while none of them were actually anything like any of these three people there was a certain something, and some of the songs were so damn good that I left thinking, I'd like to do another album. I'd like to actually go on the road, truthfully. I'd love to travel with the band and just sing songs, natter to the audience. I'd like that a lot. I doubt that I ever will; I'm too bloody lazy. I'm not at all ambitious, you see. I just don't have the drive to compete in this marketplace.

DRUK: Ever thought of getting Absolute O'Brien out on a bigger label?

RO'B: No; I'm nearly 60, I'm not at the cutting edge for these young Turks. We're going to do a Rocky Horror 25th Anniversary in Las Vegas this year, and I'll use that opportunity to push the album again, but that's all I can do really. It got good reviews, it's liked by most people; it's just getting it across to Joe Public so they know it's out there, and getting the record shops to stock it. It's difficult.

DRUK: What was the last CD you bought?

RO'B: I don't think I've bought a CD for a while. I suppose it was Stan Getz; one of the most magical sax players ever, an absolute angel on the saxophone. I believe he was a difficult man...

DRUK: A lot of the best are..

RO'B: I don't know whether that's true. Other musicians didn't like him as a human being but loved him as a musician.

DRUK: Any more films on the horizon?

RO'B: No, there's not. And I really don't need anything to drag me away from the typewriter at the moment; I need to keep working on the sequel. I don't know what it's going to be called yet. The Second Coming has been mooted; it's quite funny but there are religious connotations to be drawn from that as well as rudery. I quite like the spiritual, religious kind of connection because that would be part of that journey as well. The child born to one of Frank's species and a human has been spoken of but has never happened, and this is a first.

DRUK: So, do you have any plans for when you've finished the sequel?

RO'B: I think I might go and spend some time in New Zealand. I've got two and a half acres out there, and I'll probably go out and put some trees on it.

Jim McCauley

The Richard O'Brien Crusade est. 1996