October , 1979
By David Huff
For Tim Curry, the Road Has Been 'Rocky'
Sometimes the past can come back to harm you. Tim Curry has found that out. His portrayal of Frank n tester in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," created an image about Curry he can't seem to shake.
This movie caught on in the weekend movie circuits creating a tremendous following around the country and making Curry's name a household word. The soundtrack from the movie, a brilliant piece of work approaching the gold status in record Sates, if it hasn't already achieved it.
Curry was a Shakespearean actor before pursuing a musical career. He trained in England at the Royal Court Theater and The Royal Shakespeare Company. He appeared in Tom Stoppard's Tony-Award-winning play "Travesties," and created the title in a six-part BBC production, "The Life of Shakespeare." But, rock n' roll was his main love.
Since 1974, when the release of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" catapulted Curry to stardom, he has fielded every possible question about the show. Most of the time his singing, his records, and his band have been overlooked.
In the following interview with JAM editor David Hull, Curry sounds off about the media, journalists and "The Rocky 'Horror Picture Show."
JAM: Do you feel music has been typecast with audiences wherever you go by "The Rocky Horror Picture Show?"
CURRY: No. I think that they shouted out more for the songs from my other records than they did for "The Rocky Horry Picture Show” and that is really a boring kind of journalistic opening. t think that it is one of the most boring journalistic openings that I have ever heard, because" don't think that it is true. However, no I don't. I don't know what they anticipate. I just deliver what I deliver. Whatever they get is what they get, and I don't think that they were disappointed. Do you?
JAM: No. Do you mind if we talk about "The Rocky Horror Picture Show?"
JAM: How did Rocky Horror come about in the first place?
CURRY: It was a play. I was doing a play in a theater in London, and I had been doing this one play for about a year and it was the next play that came up and they asked me to do it. It was a sixty seat experimental theatre, called The Royal Court Theater. They had two theaters. One holds about 800 people and one holds about 60 and they always needed new writers.
JAM: The motion picture...
CURRY: Was a big success in London. I left after six months and did it in the Los Angeles area and it was a big success there. Then they decided to make it into a movie. And they made it into a movie and we did it on Broadway and it was a flop. They didn't like it very much at Twentieth Century Fox and then it went into midnight weekends and it works.
JAM: Do you look at it more as a cult classic?
CURRY: I look at it more as something that I did in 1974. That is how I look at it. I look at it in other words as the basis of the audience in America that I am very lucky to get and it is a piece of work that I did five years ago.
JAM: Do you want to forget it then?
CURRY: No. Listen. I mean because of it, I came to America. I came to America because of "The Rocky Horror Show." it was the first success in America I ever had. It was a long time ago when I did it. It is still a success. People still editorialize about it. That actually is not very interesting to me because everybody who goes to see it knows what they are getting from it. I know what I got from it five or four years ago and I am really glad that people still like it. I can't, you know, I'm sort of fond of it and there it is. What do you think? There it is. I mean, what do you think? Did you ever see any of it?
JAM: Yes, I did, twice. Was the feedback from the audience intended?
CURRY: Yes, that was intended. We wanted to break down the barrier between the screen and the audience because that hadn't happened for a long time, except in kid shows. Since the Cisco Kid really. That's like talking to the camera a lot of it was a rock n' roll movie. It was playing in a rock n' roll theater and it was a rock n' roll theater. And, there it is.
JAM: Is the movie aimed at a particular audience?
CURRY: No. It was aimed at whatever audience it was deserved. The same as my show is. The same as your writing is. The same as any magazine is. It is aimed at whatever, no actually, less than a magazine. Magazines usually aim themselves very carefully at age markets. The movie wasn't aimed at any particular age group or anything. We thought it was the first rock n' roll movie.
JAM: The soundtrack was a superb piece of work. Is it the most successful you have done so far?
CURRY: In terms of what?
JAM: In terms of record sales.
JAM: You say you feel you aren't typecast or put in a certain mold. Will you be able to expand your music?
CURRY: You tell me, you saw the Show.
JAM: Do you try to come across in a particular fashion?
CURRY: Well, what did I come across to you as? Journalists come to my show with preconceived conceptions. They know that they can get column space because of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and they can always say, 'Well, he is not as good as the movie' They can go an actual six inches with a picture of a guy in stockings and they all get into a kind of heavy, metaphysical speculations about whether an image ... I never gave a she about an image. I never did. I never had one. I don't take photographs, I don't have photographs taken. I just go out there and sing. Now what I do is absolutely up to the audience. The audience to me didn't seem to have a bad time. I haven't seen anything about "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and I could give a fuck for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" when I am on stage singing. However, I know that a lot of the people who are coming to see me, are coming to see me because they liked me in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Well, that is the same to me, because you know, video disc is not so far away. And since this was a rock n' roll movie, they saw a performer and they came to see a performer. They didn't have a bad time I don't think. You know that is boring old journalistic shit. Come on, it really is. It happened a long time ago.
JAM: In Norman, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has run on weekends four or five consecutive months. There are fan clubs and when I look of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," it is something people are fascinated in.
CURRY: Yes, that is alright. There is no reason why people shouldn't look to me for what they think might be left from the character or whatever. But I think, if you will forgive me in the arrogance of having done a good show tonight, and spending 18 months of my life turning down better pictures, that what we did tonight is as interesting and as arresting, as anything that I may have done before. And, I think that you are clinging to some kind of conception of the way that people see somebody. Now I don't know. It someone is in love with you, and they fall in love with you because of the way that you look or something smart you said over dinner, or you know, had a particularly fascinating shirt on over dinner or you shave better that day, that is terrific. They will fall out of love with you for the same reason. When they come to see me with the band that a lot of people in New York, and certainly in America, would shoot for, kit for, If they have a good time on a musical level and find something else in me, then I am wasting my time. I am happy to waste my time. I am happy to waste my time talking to you about icons and images and what people expect, because If you get into a room that has four walls and sound, and you can sing and you can perform, then people will see, whatever it is they are going to see and hear, and that is partly controlled by whoever is making them see or hear. And I am bored shitless by comparison.
JAM: There are a lot of bands out there trying to make it today..
CURRY: I don't give a shit about making it. You know, make it shmake it. I have got time, forever. I wanted to sing. I am out here singing. If anybody wants to listen, that is great. If they go out the next day and tell their friends they should go out and buy the record, that Is great. It's not for magazines, is not for It is because I wanted to sing my whole life and I get to sing and I think that people like it. Did you like it?
CURRY: Did you think that it had anything to do with Frank n Furter'?
CURRY: So what are we talking about? Why don't we talk about the record and the music?
JAM: I am just looking ...
CURRY: You are looking for a journalistic hook man. You are looking for a journalistic hook.
JAM: l am looking at why people go to the theatre, dress up, and throw rice.
CURRY: You are assuming that they are dumb. You are assuming that they are not intelligent to realize that a guy that can put on a ridiculous costume and go out and make it work has got to be some kind of jerk when he comes out with a rock n' roll band.
JAM: I feel you have a cult following.
CURRY: Cult following, shaft following. Listen. It was a real good show, it's a real good record ("Fearless l, we had a real good time, everybody that came here think had a rest good time. I don't think that anybody thought that their money was wasted, I am bored with the word cult and I am just bored with the idea of people, you know, that ... I think that everybody wants to be surprised. The movie surprised people. Good performers, good singers, good bands, surprise people. Good interviews surprise journalists, you know. You are sitting on a live year old surprise and you got a new one and we are talking about the old one. You know, enough.
JAM: Your plans for the future.
CURRY: Oh sing, sing. Sing and sit through another interview.
JAM: Don't get mad at me.
CURRY: I usually don't get mad. I am usually really arrogant about the Rocky Horror questions. 'Do you think it is different?' Yes. 'What was it like doing it?' Very long. You know, it is a lifetime ago. Do you ask, you know. Ask a Bee Gee what it is like 10 be in front of a camera when nobody bothers to come and see them in their fucking movie? Then ask the questions. Nobody is surprised when the Bee Gees are in a forty million dollar movie. Don't ask me what it is like to do rock n' roll. You haven't. You haven't asked me. You didn't say, 'Did you have a good time?' I had a great time. I thought the band was terrific tonight. I thought that I sang well. I am getting arrogant now because we had a good time, we had a real good time and shmocky Horror, because they don't care anymore, you know. It is a movie. Everybody did them. I love them for coming to see me I love them for loving the movie. I love the fact that it changed what movies did and I love the fact that they come and see me. But, when they come and see this band, they come and see this band. And I am not doing, I am not the Fonz interview. I never do them. They are boring and you just sit there and say shmocky Horror, shmocky Horror. That's him. He loves being a movie star. I fucking hate being a movie star. I like singing. Thank you very much... I don't want to get angry, do you know what I mean?
CURRY: What else is on your list? I want to read your list.
CURRY: You know. I don't think about that Stuff_ I really don't think about career, I don't think about cross-over from acting to singing. I don't think that there is any difference. I think when you get out there and do it, and if you are good at it, people like you. They like it. They get off and have a great time. And, they feel that whatever they spent to get into that room was worth it. I mean all of this is lust art bullshit. It is all media bullshit. It is just career, and do you think that your photographs do you justice. No. they don't. You know, I will tell you. There is a stage and people. and if there is a microphone or camera or a theatre or a play, I don't give a shit I would rattler it was music and I know that they had a good time I know that I had a good time I know that it has nothing else to do. With anything else than with that. And whatever I can give to a camera or give to you. Or shout at you. Because I never did shout at anybody before. But, I had such a good time tonight, it is really hurting me.
JAM: As I said, I have seen the movie.
CURRY: Everybody thinks that it is people — is that turned on?
CURRY: People magazine and interview magazines and all that has to do with rock, because it is bullshit, because people get false ideas about people, because they have pretty photographs taken and they are photographed the way they want to be. Being who they think people will want to buy. I just go out there and sing my music. And if they like the record and they like the show, they will buy the record or come and see the show. If they don't buy, I don't get to do it, and that is cool. I'll go back and do Richard the Second. You know, it is not a problem. In England, they don't even know from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." It is still running in the theaters, but for six months, they don't even know me as rock n' roll. They know me as the life of Shakespeare, they know me as Shakespeare plays, and they know me as classical movies. Here the media knows me because you have X-ray inches with a stocking on. If you had a good time, you tell them, if you are writing for JAM magazine, you say who you saw in Boomer Theater, in Norman. I don't even know that ... Don't pull that stocking bullshit all over it, and he is really quite different 'really'. Say you saw a rock n' roll show and you had a good time and you thought the guy could sing and the band was good.
JAM: Will you be content playing small halls or do you want to play at5,000 seaters?
CURRY: I'll play for anybody. I'll play for anybody that wants to hear me and the band.
JAM: Is there pressure from A&M?
CURRY: There is pressure from A&M to get a hit. It would be real nice to have a hit. That depends on all the people that are reading JAM to call their radio stations and ask for the songs. I don't actually, personally give a shit. Because I'm singing and if the record company isn't going to put up the bread for me to sing, I'll go home to England and be Alec Guiness ... Fuck it, fuck you and the magazine. You know, it doesn't make any difference to me. I wanted to sing my whole life and I got to sing.