Barry Bostwick Wants You to Do the Time Warp
Reliving ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
Whatever happened to Barry Bostwick, initially of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” fame? Nostalgia columnist Nick Thomas answers that question.
With Halloween coming up, there’s no better time to satisfy your “Rocky Horror Picture Show” craving than by doing the Time Warp with Barry Bostwick, who will be traveling the country in October for various conventions, appearances, and screenings of the 1975 musical comedy horror classic (see www.barrybostwick.com for dates and locations).
Bostwick, who starred as clean-cut Brad Majors in the original film, has attended dozens of screenings over the years but still looks forward to most where a ‘shadow cast’ of local actors act out scenes while the film plays in the background.
“I’m entertained like hell each time because the performances are just so wonderful,” said Bostwick from his Florida home north of Orlando. “Many have been doing it for years and know every detail about every scene from the movie.”
But these days, Bostwick does not perform with the shadow cast.
“A couple of years ago they got me up on stage to play the Ralph Hapschatt part, the character who gets married at the beginning of the film,” recalled Bostwick. “There were only a few lines, but I just sucked at it because I couldn’t keep up with the performers on stage. I swore I’d never get talked into that again. So, I just go out and screw around with the audience for a while to get them pumped up. I make fun of them as much as they have made fun of me for the last (48) years!”
To embrace the whole “Rocky Horror Picture Show” experience, fans dress as their favorite characters while yelling at the screen and tossing objects around the theater, behavior that would normally lead to ejection by management. But such conduct is not only tolerated but expected during the movie as fans mimic iconic moments from the beloved film.
Originally a critical and commercial flop when first released, midnight screenings in the late ’70s soon began attracting young audiences drawn to the film’s outrageous characters featured in exotic and erotic scenes.
By contrast, Bostwick’s character is initially rather staid, peering through nerdy, black-rimmed glasses alongside girl-next-door fiancée Janet (Susan Sarandon). The pair stumble upon a country mansion occupied by Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), an eccentric transvestite scientist (who’s actually an alien) preparing to unveil his latest humanoid creation, Rocky.
“I never get bored because the music (e.g., ‘The Time Warp’) is so superb, and watching Tim eat up the screen is a delightfully enriching experience,” says Bostwick.
When filming the original, Bostwick says the self-assured heroic character of Brad fit right into his professional wheelhouse at the time, but were there moments when playing the more shocking Frank-N-Furter character might have been more appealing?
“Sure, but then Tim would walk on the set to begin a scene and I realized I couldn’t do it,” he said. “He just had that spark that others have tried to imitate in later stage productions, but no one ever has. He helped make it the greatest cult movie of all time.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous magazines and newspapers, including many in the Boomer nostalgia and humor departments. See www.getnickt.org