(Taken from the
adhoc Bristol website: www.adhoc.co.uk)
I hear youve
been appearing in Birmingham, on the stage, no less
Yes, I have actually.
They asked me to travel around a bit and make some appearances.
I tried to lock it into local charitable kinds of ends, to make
the whole thing worthwhile for me, give me some really solid
reason for being here, and it kind of works out. Were
raising funds theyre putting the buckets out all
week in the Theatre, which is very good of them for the
Downs Syndrome Association, and tonight after the show I go
along to the University. The students are having a charitable
kind of knees-up for local charities. Ill judge a fancy-dress
competition for them and then Ill get in the car and go
My first thought
was that you were appearing as Riff-Raff, but youre not,
No, The truth of
the matter is I just have to be here really, make an appearance
on stage, chat to the audience, sing a song and
then get out of their hair. Truthfully, its almost as
if the audience own the show in many ways. They believe they
own the show you get in the way. I was made aware of
that many years ago when I was invited out to Florida to go
to a local cinema in Miami, at a special night. We were going
to be the guest stars we popped up in front of the audience,
and they were cheering for us. And yet we became very aware
very quickly that it was fine that we were there, but dont
linger too long, or interfere with our party
hardly said anything we were only in front of the audience
for about three minutes and it became very obvious that
we were kind of on the verge of outstaying our welcome, which
was very weird.
How did that
come about originally, all the audience involvement and dressing
up. Did it just happen?
Probably it happened
with people shouting lines at the screen first, which is odd
because my misspent youth was spent going to the late-night
double feature all those years ago in New Zealand. Rocky celebrates
the movies of that period in many ways, and that was something
that used to happen in a very gauche and oafish kind of way.
You know, the lads would shout something smutty at the screen
to elicit a laugh from whoever else was there at the time, and
it was odd because it started to happen with Rocky. It became
almost scripted. In the United States they actually put out
a book including the lines the audience were supposed to shout
at the screen
It became a kind of art form of sorts, and
that was the start. The next step on from that was the dressing,
and then kind of performing, miming in front of the screen and
running round the Theatre, and the whole thing grew as a mixed
media event with live performances and screen performances going
on in tandem.
Have you ever
been tempted to change the film in subtle ways?
No, no! I wouldnt
have the right to touch the film anyway, thats 20th Century
Do you get
fed up of being constantly drawn back to Rocky Horror Show,
or is it something youre glad to be drawn back to?
I have no problems
with it at all. Its never been a millstone, never been
a cross to bear. No, Ive no problems with it whatsoever.
Because its such a cheerful kind of journey, its
always enjoyable, truthfully.
I was talking
to Christopher Biggins, he certainly has happy memories of it.
Yes, he was one of
He said everyone
was stoned all the time, I dont know if thats true
Well, I dont
know what was happening amongst his lot, but I led a very sheltered
life a life of austerity and self-denial. I wouldnt
know anything about that
Horror existed, how did the very germ of it begin in your brain?
First of all I was
out of work, and I was sitting at home and wondering what to
do with my life, wondering whether Id ever be
employed again. I was sitting with my friend, and I said, What
Id really like to be in is a really rock n
roll show, which has real rock n roll as opposed
to theatrical rock n roll. Because I never
understood why the people in Oklahoma werent singing country
and western why they were singing show songs. I never
understood that. I was thinking of the B-movie kind of area,
and I thought a kind of rock n roll horror show
would be good. And he said, Well, lets write it,
and I said, OK, lets do that. He went off
and opened up a recording studio, and by the time he got around
to it, he said, OK, lets start on the show, and
Id already written it and it was going to start at the
Royal Court in a months time. So thats how it began.
How it actually got on is a strange story. There was no pressure,
I didnt put it on any producers table I never
thought anyone would take it, really it happened very
organically and very easily, almost like a parody of Frankensteins
monster. You give birth to this thing and the monster takes
on a life of its own. The show did much the same kind
Well, I hope
it doesnt end the same way.
People coming up
to my house with torches, you mean..?
Had you always
been writing music?
Yes. I wrote my first
song when I was fifteen. Guitar, three chords, called Thunder
Rock. It was about a Red Indian who had given up the war
dance and gone in for the jive, I believe that was one
of the lines. Ever since then Ive always sat down and
written little songs, put them in the drawer. When Rocky came
along I had quite a few songs already in the drawer, which I
was able to slot into the narrative. I suppose theyre
related its part of my own journey, is Rocky Horror,
truthfully, I guess to do with the teenage rites of passage.
The cross-dressing, gender confusion, an attraction and understanding
of the 50s and the changes in the 50s. The 50s were a watershed
for humanity, really. For modern society, 1958 was a time when
the American Dream actually became a reality, for ten seconds,
and from then on it was all downhill. If you look at American
magazines from, say, 1957, around that period, youre looking
at a very successful Western culture, where the dreams and aspirations
that they were hoping for and working towards were actually
there. An urban sprawl of big long cars, Madison Avenue, barbecues,
and big dresses, high school prom balls it had reached
fruition, really, and from then on it was a nose-dive into the
60s and the drug culture and punk of the 70s. There
was a shift of power-base from the middle aged, middle-class
to a young working class driven scenario. Its fascinating.
I remember one of the critics saying that Brad and Janet were
Ikes children. To some extent that was kind of true. To
some extent it is a kind of parody of that social shift. I never
thought about that until talking to you right now!
you go! Mark this moment. Frank N Furter, although hes
very cheery, is a kind of sad figure. Hes doomed to be
disappointed, even though hes going to give it a bloody
He doesnt get
his comeuppance really because of his behaviour, he gets his
comeuppance because of hubris to some extent, and it all has
to end anyway. The only reality for all of us is a death. In
death there is some salvation I guess. I see the deaths on-stage
at the end of Rocky as a theatrical device more than anything
else. Ive never thought of them in narrative terms, or
social documentation terms, or any lofty terms. Its just
like the end of Hamlet where theres all those bodies all
over the stage. It was that kind of enjoyment adolescent,
again, a puerile kind of enjoyment of having the bodies
on the stage and a swan-song for Frank.
I was thinking
of someone creating the perfect man, and then they become their
own person you cant control them.
Well, again, thats
always true. We give birth to our children, and we think we
can educate them in our own ways, and then they join some religious
cult. I was watching that wonderful American comedian, Chris
Rock hes almost Lenny Bruce in his satirical journeys
he was saying whatever you hate, you can bet its
going to wind up in your family eventually. Like all those people
whore homophobic I dont know why, he says,
because we all know weve got a gay uncle! If you hate
Mexicans, for instance, you can bet your boots one day your
daughters going to come home with one. Thats the
way it is. I suppose thats true with Franks creation
hes got to have a life of his own, we cant
control anybody or anything, we can only kind of suggest, with
loving kindness. Lead by example, not with the whip.
easy having a good time.
Its not easy
having a good time, as Frank says. You have to work at it.
How did the Crystal Maze come about? Its jumping on a
bit, I know.
Its a good
question, because I never quite understood that either. It wasnt
a road I ever thought Id wander down, I never saw myself
as a TV game show host. My name was obviously put into the hat.
I had a conversation with the producers, and I suggested that
my name had been put forward because when they came up with
the formula for the Crystal Maze they said it was kind of like
Dungeons and Dragons to some extent what we need is a
dungeon-master. My name was thrown into the hat at that point.
Now they said no, but I think even when they say no, subconsciously
that must have been part of the journey. I went along and met
them, and we seemed to hit it off, and then I did a pilot. I
was supposed to do The Keys to Fort Boyard, that was the show
I was supposed to do. I did a pilot for the French and English
of the Keys to Fort Boyard, and Channel Four went, yes, well
take it, heres the slot, prime time, Thursday nights in
Autumn. The producers in Britain went to the French and said
they were ready to go, and the French said that the fort wouldnt
be ready. They went away, sat down for two days and came up
with an alternative version, which was Crystal Maze. I actually
think its a better show. That happens very often, doesnt
it you can be in the kitchen, get all the ingredients
together and spend an awful lot of time, and finally when its
cooked you come up with something heavy and suet-y. And another
time youll go in there without any sort of preparation
and youll whip up a soufflé. That can always happen,
and I think thats what happened with the Crystal Maze,
I think it was the better programme.
the next big thing for you?
Im not quite
sure what the next big thing for me is I made an album
which I put out last year, and Ive got a couple of movies
released this year that I had very small parts in, and Im
writing at the moment. I just keep fiddling around really, enjoying
myself and doing what I want to do. Im not really career-driven,
you see thats the truth of it. Ive never
been that eager to convince the world Im the best thing
since sliced bread. Ive never been money-oriented, although
I love it very much. We all like money. If people are prepared
to give it to me Im prepared to take it, but Ive
never seen it as a god, never chased it. Never really chased
a career in that sense either.
mentions a screenplay for a modern and dark fairy-tale, which
is under wraps.
on the back burner, what Im doing now is attempting to
write a sequel for Rocky. Ive written seven, maybe eight
songs for that, so far, and Im going to keep going until
it gets to a point where its not viable, or it is, or
when it gets to the point where I go, actually, truthfully,
this is not going to do me any favours, because the expectations
for a Rocky sequel are going to be exceptionally high. Im
going to have to fulfill an awful lot of peoples ideas
of it, even though Im writing it for myself again, I do
realise that Ive got to be very, very clever about my
approach to it, and I have to approach it in perhaps a slightly
more mature manner, actually, which scares me. The saving grace
is that if it gets to a point where I go, actually, its
not going to work, I can just pull the plug on it, and get on
with the one youve just spoken about, which is called
Alive on Arrival. Its about a woman who goes to the land
of the dead while shes still alive, and theyre all
dead. Its a learning curve for her. A kind of dark fairy
tale, or a trip to the underworld. So thats there on the
back burner, and in the meantime Im getting on with Rocky
Two, whatever its going to be called. It wont be
Rocky Two, but