The Musical World of Rocky Horror

20th Anniversary '95

The long success of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW has completely redefined the meaning of 'cult film.' Used all too often as a synonym for "interesting flop," the words apply literally to the musical horror comedy, which debuted in 1975 and continues to play nationwide on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight in theatres where it is the object of a cult with its own rituals, vestments and liturgy, spontaneously created by the film's fans.

As the longest-running film in cinema history, ROCKY HORROR has surpassed the $150 million mark in gross box office receipts.

And now, Dr. Frank N Furter, Janet Weiss, Brad Majors, Riff Raff and the rest of one of filmdom's most beloved, enduring and unusual cast of characters are getting ready to celebrate "The Master's Affair" - The 20th Anniversary Bash for THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. The Cosmic Happening will be held on October 21st, and the film's one-of-a-kind sensibility will be reflected in the event's locale: 20th Century Fox and the film's producer, Lou Adler, will host the party at Hollywood's renowned entertainment palace, the Pantages Theatre.

The evening's freewheeling and interactive festivities will include ROCKY HORROR fashion and karaoke contests, and a live stage show toplined by the film's writer/star, Richard O'Brien, performing songs from the soundtrack. The event culminates at midnight with a showing of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. "Lost footage" of ROCKY HORROR star Barry Bostwick performing "Once in a While" will also be screened. Confirmed attendees from the film include Bostwick, who plays the clean-cut Brad Majors; O'Brien, who, in addition to penning the screenplay, portrays the hunchback henchman, Riff Raff; and Pat Quinn, who plays Magenta.

"The Master's Affair" marks another summit in one of the most improbable success stories in movie history. When THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW opened nationally in 1975, it only did well in one Los Angeles theatre, and might have had a very short history if the producers and Fox executives hadn't noticed something: in the theatre where it was working, there were people coming back to see it again and again on a regular basis, and in some cases they were singing along with the on-screen musical numbers. Fox subsequently chose to open the film in New York as a midnight movie at the Waverly Theatre in Greenwich Village - long-time home of such cultish midnight fare as "El Topo" and "The Night of the Living Dead." Opening at the Waverly on April Fool's Day, the film immediately attracted a cult following, and the cult assumed proportions never seen before, even on the traditionally rowdy midnight circuit.

History records that the first audience member to talk back to the screen was Louis Farese, a kindergarten teacher from Staten Island. On Labor Day Weekend, 1976, five months into ROCKY HORROR's New York run, Farese was moved to shout out a piece of advice to Janet, the film's prissy heroine, which subsequently became part of a repertoire of responses, questions and directions that audience members - many of them veterans of scores or eventually hundreds of screenings - began performing in counterpoint to the on-screen dialogue. Props were added to enhance the pleasures of audience participation, and when some audience members began coming in costume, a full-scale pre-screening floor show was improvised, MC'd by a young actor named Sal Piro who played a major role in encouraging and codifying the evolving rituals of the cult.

The audience-participation phenomenon which sprang up at the Waverly (moving in 1978 to the Village's 8th Street Playhouse and in 1989 to the uptown Eastside Cinema) was duplicated in cities around the country where ROCKY HORROR was opened as a midnight attraction - each local group developing its own repertoire of lines and props to integrate into the weekly performance. A fan club was started with a newspaper, The Transylvanian, and national conventions began to be held. The ROCKY HORROR phenomenon had become part of the culture and was even documented in passing in Paul Mazursky's "Willie and Phil" and integrated into the plot of Alan Parker's "Fame." In 1985, to celebrate the tenth anniversary, a live show was staged at New York City's Beacon Theatre, ending with a screening of the film 'performed' by the group from the 8th Street Playhouse. And now on the twentieth anniversary the cream of groups from movie theatres all over the country where the film continues to play in midnight screenings will be 'performing' the film together at a very special screening in the presence of the original cast members.

(Information for this brief history of the ROCKY HORROR phenomenon comes from Sal Piro's personal memoirs of the cult, Creatures of the Night and Creatures of the Night II, both published by Stabur Press, Inc.; and Midnight Movies by J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, published by Harper & Row.)


SUSAN SARANDON was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in last year's "The Client." She also was Oscar-nominated for "Atlantic City." Her recent film credits include "Dead Man Walking," directed by Tim Robbins; "Little Women," "Safe Passage" and "Lorenzo's Oil." Her other films include "Thelma and Louise," "Bull Durham," "The Witches of Eastwick," "A Dry White Season," "The January Man," "Pretty Baby," "Sweetheart's Dance," "Tempest," "Compromising Positions," and "White Palace." Sarandon is also a political and social activist who has become involved in such issues as AIDS, world hunger and political oppression.

TIM CURRY, who received a Tony nomination for Best Actor for the Broadway production of "Amadeus," has continued his career on the New York and London stages with starring roles in "The Pirates of Penzance" and "The Art of Success," among others. His films include "The Hunt for Red October," "Annie," "Legend," "Clue," "Oscar," "The Shadow," "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," "The Hunt For Red October," and the recent box office hit "Congo." He has been seen on American and British television in "Wiseguy," "Blue Money," "Oliver Twist" and "Rock Follies II"; he was heard as the voice of Captain Hook in "Peter Pan and the Pirates" on the Fox Network, and starred in the miniseries of Stephen King's horror epic "It." Curry has recorded three albums for A&M Records: "Read My Lips," "Fearless" and "Simplicity." He currently resides in Los Angeles and continues to be one of Hollywood's busiest actors.

RICHARD O'BRIEN followed up THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW by writing and starring in "Shock Treatment' (1981). He also wrote and performed in the plays "Disaster" and "T-Zee" in London. His other acting roles include "Jubilee," "Flash Gordon," "Revolution" and the British television series "Robin of Sherwood." He enjoyed a second wave of celebrity as the host of the successful British quiz show "The Crystal Maze." O'Brien is currently working on two projects - a motion picture fairy tale musical entitled "Alive on Arrival," and a play, "Disgracefully Yours," which he is bringing to London's West End in spring, 1996. O'Brien continues to oversee the many ROCKY HORROR productions worldwide, and attends various ROCKY HORROR conventions and charily events.

PATRICIA QUINN, who continues to work extensively on the London stage and in British television, has appeared in the features "Shock Treatment" and "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life." Her television credits include the acclaimed British miniseries "I, Claudius" and "Doctor Who." She has also kept busy on the London stage and recently completed the 25th anniversary tour of the original play in Great Britain, recreating her role of Magenta.

NELL CAMPBELL ("Little Nell") recorded a number of songs for A&M Records including "The Swim," "Beauty Queen," "Fever," and "See You Round Like a Record." Her motion picture credits include "Jubilee," "Lizstomania," "Pink Floyd: The Wall" and "Shock Treatment." In 1985 she moved to New York and opened the successful nightclub Nell's. In 1994 she received rave reviews for her role in the off-Broadway show "You Should Be So Lucky" by Charles Busch.

JONATHAN ADAMS, who has pursued a dual career as a star of the English stage and a successful artist, had a continuing role in the smash British television series "Yes, Minister" and has recently appeared on stage in productions of "Tomfoolery" and "Metropolis." In 1990 he re-created the role of the Narrator in a revival of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and appeared on the cast album. He also starred in the West End productions of "Tomfoolery" (a review of Tom Lehrer's music) and "Metropolis," also performing on both original cast albums. Adams is also an artist, songwriter and cabaret performer. He continues to live and work in London.

PETER HINWOOD is currently an antique dealer in London.

MEATLOAF's recording career took off with his platinum album "Bat Out of Hell" and the follow-up, "Dead Ringer." He then won a Grammy for his multi-platinum "Bat Out of Hell 2." His film roles include "Americathon," "Leap of Faith," "Motorama," "Out of Bounds," "The Squeeze," "Wayne's World 2" and the title role in "Roadie."

BARRY BOSTWICK won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in "The Robber Bridegroom." He also starred on Broadway in the musical "Nick and Nora," and in the Los Angeles production of "Pirates of Penzance." He has had starring roles in the feature films "Movie, Movie," "Megaforce" and "Weekend at Bernie's II." His numerous television credits include the miniseries "George Washington" (as Washington) and "War and Remembrance"; the movie-of-the-week "You Can't Take it With You"; and two television series: "Dads" and "The Parent Trap." He also guest-hosted "Saturday Night Live."

Director JIM SHARMAN subsequently directed "Shock Treatment" and "The Night Prowler," and recently directed the Australian production of "Chess." He lives and works in Australia and is very involved with the Sydney Opera House.

After three decades as one of the music industry's top figures, producer LOU ADLER made his film directing debut with "Up in Smoke," a low-budget comedy which grossed over $100 million and caught the socio-economic lifestyles of the youthquake generation. He also produced the cult films "Brewster McCloud" and "Shock Treatment." Now semi-retired, Adler nonetheless continues to work on projects reflecting his wide-ranging interests. He has completed a functioning recording studio at the Los Angeles Children's Museum as a hands-on exhibit, the first of its kind. Another recent endeavor was the very successful Children's Hospital International Music and Entertainment Festival (CHIME) at Knott's Berry Farm for the benefit of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The event, which broke attendance records, brought together most of the best-selling and quality children's entertainment performers of the day. Adler recently started Ode 2 Kids, a family record label, and he reactivated Ode Records for product by a youth choir, "All God's Children."


"I started writing ROCKY HORROR as a way for me to spend winter evenings when I was an out-of-work actor."
- Richard O'Brien

"Elvis came to one of the midnight showings! That was worth it forever."
- Meatloaf

"It had every cliche in the book about B-movies ..."
- Patricia Quinn

"We were influenced by '50s science-fiction films; we viewed a lot of those. The other influence was Russ Meyer's 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.'"
- ROCKY HORROR designer Brian Thomson

"He walked into the door of the theatre and just ripped up the role."
- Jim Sharman on Tim Curry's audition

"On one hand, ROCKY HORROR has a popular comic book surface; on the other, it has a very sophisticated set of sensibilities."
- Jim Sharman

"The fact that it's lasted is, in enormous part, due to the design."
- Tim Curry

"The early previews were not successful at all ~ and that's being kind."
- Lou Adler

"I have no idea why it's been so popular. Maybe it's like being in love; you shouldn't try and dissect it."
- Susan Sarandon

"Every Saturday night there's a guaranteed party, whether you have a date or not."
- Tim Curry

"The success of ROCKY HORROR came out of the failure of ROCKY HORROR."
- Lou Adler

"A lot of these kids who perform at the showings will keep it alive for a long time and pass it on to the next generation."
- Barry Bostwick

"It's probably the first time that the audience has been as much a part of the creative process as the people who made it."
- Susan Sarandon

"These are moments I'll never be able to re-capture. Who's going to ask me at this point in my career to dress up in that kind of costume?"
- Barry Bostwick