Barry Bostwick thinks he knows the first question he’ll be asked at The Rocky Horror Picture Show screening party on October 20 at the Wortham Center.
“People always ask, ‘Did you know it would be such a hit?’” says the actor, who starred as bespectacled Brad Majors in the 1975 cult favorite.
The answer is simple, he says. “No, how could we?”
Anyone predicting boffo box office for the film would have been wrong, Bostwick explains. Set in a spooky mansion that’s presided over by a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” in glam lingerie and heels, the movie was “not too successful” in its initial run. “Really, it was the geniuses at [20th Century Fox] who get the credit for developing its fan base at midnight screenings,” Bostwick says. “Cult movies were just starting to catch on past the underground scene in New York City.”
At the Houston screening party, audience members are encouraged to dance “The Time Warp,” shout “Hot Patootie!” during the movie, and dress as Rocky Horror characters, with Bostwick judging the winner of the event’s costume contest. Bostwick will also dish on behind-the-scenes stories of his career and the making of the film during his onstage question-and-answer talk-back feature.
“This will be unique because I’m there by myself,” rather than appearing with one or more of the movie’s principals. “Last year, we did three or four of these around Halloween. It’s overwhelming. You leave your little house in Los Angeles and go to an event where you’re treated like a rock star.”
A limited number of VIP tickets are available, which include a post-show meet-and-greet with Bostwick.
The year after the movie’s release, Bostwick won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical as the title character in The Robber Bridegroom on Broadway. His other notable roles include Danny Zuko in the original Broadway production of Grease, the mayor on TV’s Spin City (1996–2002), and the father of our country in the TV miniseries George Washington.
The Rocky Horror phenomenon began as a London stage musical, The Rocky Horror Show, with Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. It won the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical of 1973, before premiering in Los Angeles the next year.
“It was the show in L.A.,” says Bostwick, who saw the stage production with Susan Sarandon, who would be cast opposite him as Janet in the movie. “It was weird and wonderful and different entertainment.”
In the next 40 years, seeing Rocky Horror would become a rite of passage, including the 2016 live TV adaptation on FOX that starred transgender actress Laverne Cox.
“I don’t want to give a movie too much [credit] for social change, but if it did anything, it brought a new tone and discussion, certainly to smaller cities around the world. It became a lighthouse for inclusion, socially and sexually. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. It’s a party. It’s a fairy tale. Even though it’s dressed up in David Bowie-esque fashion, it’s Hansel and Gretel.”
What: Rocky Horror Picture Show Screening Party, presented by Society for the Performing Arts
When: 7:30 p.m. on October 20
Where: Cullen Theatre, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Ave.
Tickets: spahouston.org or 713.632.8113
This article appears in the October 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.