As originator of the role of Magenta, the demented Transylvanian housekeeper, actress Patricia Quinn has seen her share of screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“It’s bad enough having to watch the film again, never mind the play,” the “Rocky” veteran said with a laugh. So, Quinn and San Francisco’s “Peach transvestite,” Peaches Christ, collaborated on a unique idea—a “Rocky Horror Show” 40th anniversary tribute concert!
The performances on May 10th and 11th at the Victoria Theater will be the stateside premiere of such a tribute—and Quinn will kick it off with her iconic lips singing the song she originated in the musical 40 years ago, “Science Fiction/Double Feature.” More on the controversy surrounding that song later. Acclaimed drag queen Peaches, a.k.a. Joshua Grannell, said that Bay Area “Rocky Horror” fans have quite a few opportunities to go see the iconic 1975 film on the big screen, but to have a live concert honoring the 40th anniversary of the musical is quite unique.
“We will literally do all of the songs from ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ back-to-back, with a full band and back-up singers. We’re bringing a saxophone player. All local, notable vocalists will perform different parts, including Jason Brock who was on ‘The X Factor’ doing Frank-N-furter,” Grannell said. “Peaches will be stringing the narrative together between songs. It will still have a narrative feel, even though it’s a concert.” Also look for Peaches to do a juicy take on the song, “Sweet Transvestite.”
One reason for not doing the entire “Rocky Horror” play—aside from the massive undertaking of it—is to leave room for one of Peaches’ wild on-stage interviews, this time with Quinn. “I’ve been in the unique position to get idols of mine, such as Mink Stole and John Waters,” Grannell said.
“When we get onstage, I don’t want to wrangle them. Part of the joy is getting to hear stories that you’re just not going to get anywhere else.” Patricia Quinn—who is ecstatic to be visiting San Francisco for the first time—shared some “Rocky” memories during a recent interview, while she was in the States for the premiere of “Lords of Salem,” a new horror movie in which she co-stars. “My agent said they wanted me to audition for this thing at The Royal Court Theatre (upstairs),” Quinn recalled about her origin with “The Rocky Horror Show” in 1973.
“He wasn't keen on that because there’s no money in a 60-seat theatre. At the time, 18 pounds per week, which I gave to my nanny. She was looking after the baby, not me . I said to my agent, ‘What is this about?’ He said, ‘I think it’s something to do with the circus.’ I said, ‘All right.’ And, I have to say, he wasn't too far wrong. Because I've been in the circus ever since.”
When “The Rocky Horror Show” was voted the most-enjoyed piece of theatre ever performed at the Royal Court, “Rocky” creator Richard O’Brien tapped Quinn, “Little” Nell Campbell and British theatre notables to perform a tribute concert in the larger, downstairs theater at the Royal Court in 2006.
“Richard introduced me and said, ‘Now, we’ll have this young lady sing what she sang 33 years ago upstairs,’” Quinn said. “It was quite brilliant. You don’t have to watch the play anymore. You don’t have to watch the film anymore. It’s new and refreshing, and it’s great.
“I said to Peaches, ‘Why don’t we do that?’ He said, ‘What a great idea!’” Now, back to those lips. Quinn’s crimson lovelies will forever be the iconic image of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” as they were used on movie posters advertising the film all over the globe.
They also are the first thing you see in the film after the 20th Century Fox logo. But, it’s not her voice singing “Science Fiction” as it was in the play. In the film, it’s O’Brien with Quinn doing the most-famous lip-sync ever.
“That story has gone around and around, and O’Brien has contradicted it since,” Quinn said. “I tell you, on the first day of the shoot, we were in a field outside the church, which was a wooden front.
Over that field came the soundtrack of ‘Science Fiction,’ and Richard said, ‘Listen to that voice.’ I thought, ‘I’m gonna get this pitchfork and stick it in you.’” After the filming for “Rocky Horror” wrapped, Quinn was performing in Anthony Shaffer’s play, “Murderer,” when she was asked to come back in and perform the disembodied lips for the opening of the movie.
“The studio was dark. It was me and the camera crew. It was tragic,” she recalled. “They had no special effects or anything. The mouth kept going out of focus. In the studio, they had these big lamps. They unscrewed the lamp and put the lamp on my head, so it wouldn’t move. It worked. It was like Frankenstein. Hmm, I have never thought of that before. It was Frank-N-furter, based on Frankenstein. I was bolted in so the mouth wouldn’t move. It was extraordinary.”
The Rocky Horror 40th Anniversary Concert Tribute is expected to sell out.
Visit http://store.peacheschrist.com/products/116-the-rocky-horror-show.aspx for tickets.
Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.