An interview with Perry Bedden

The Rocky Horror Picture Book: peruse a Transylvanian’s backstage Rocky Horror snaps!

Perry Bedden, stageshow Frank, onscreen Transylvanian, and snapshot enthusiast has been tantalizing fans for some time with his behind-the-scenes Rocky Horror photos. Now you can buy the Rocky Horror Picture Book, with excerpts from his private photo collection! $34.95 at http://www.rockyhorrorpicturebook.com/.

b2ap3_thumbnail_book.jpgBack in 1973, Perry Bedden ran with the Rocky Horror crowd, hanging out with the cast and creators of the original Rocky Horror Show. He was cast in the stage show, backstage at the Rocky Horror Picture Show as a Transylvanian, and his involvement with Rocky Horror lasted decades. Now he shares it with us!

* When did you realize you had something special with your photo collection? How did you decide you'd put together a book?

I never thought I had ‘something special,’ as you put it. I have taken what I call ‘snaps’ all my life and still do. I have these pictures in books, files, boxes - hundreds of them. It’s amazing what you find when you return to these photos years later.

It wasn’t until the Internet arrived and I got my first PC back in 1997 that I realised Rocky was so big in the States. Then Facebook arrived and I started posting photos on my timeline (https://www.facebook.com/perry.bedden). These were getting lots of ‘likes’ and comments. There was a time when I was posting a new photo every day.

Jim (Hetzer) is to blame. It was Jim who asked me if I ever thought of putting a book together of my collection. To be honest it never crossed my mind, but I wrote back and said I wasn’t really interested - it would take too much time and effort. It was Jim’s brilliant idea to assemble the book himself and we would self-publish. Then he got Chris Holley to edit the book.

Jim came up with the idea of how it looked and I just OK’d most of his ideas. I always wanted the specific cover photo we used to be on the cover, and insisted that the photo to use is what we have now. A beautiful photo.

I had so many photos for the book, but I was restricted by size, quality and financial reasons as to what I could add. I didn’t use all the photos from the collection.

I have just been to London (I live in Egypt now), and found even more photos when I went to collect a few things I have in storage. While there I was transfixed by all the other photos I have relating to Rocky, and spent a couple of hours going through all the Rocky-related pics.

* Are these photos personal snaps, or are some from on-set photographers, etc.?

All the photos are personal snaps. Pick up a camera and click, that’s all. Just having fun.b2ap3_thumbnail_out.jpg

* How did you get involved with Rocky Horror? Since you were already part of the group that spawned Rocky Horror (Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.) did you audition, volunteer, or were you suggested by someone?

I received a call from my agent in London that they were auditioning for the role of Riff Raff. This was when the show had moved from the Classic Cinema to the Kings Road Theatre. I didn’t know if it was blessing or a hindrance to be asked to audition, since I knew all of the creative team. I went to the audition, sang, and read Riff Raff’s space scene. It was all very formal and professional. After a few agonising days of waiting, I was offered the role of Riff Raff.

* You were already familiar with the Rocky Horror Show when you joined the Rocky Horror film cast: was the shooting what you expected?

I found it all very strange, especially having Transylvanians in the movie. Rehearsing the Time Warp was really weird, as in the show it was just done with the three characters, Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia. In the movie it was choreographed. A lot of waving of arms, I remember.

* Was this your first film after being a child actor?

After being a child actor? When does adult acting begin? I was still a child of 14 in my first movie; it was a 6 part movie for children. In the UK at the time there used to be what was called Saturday morning pictures. Parents sent their kids to the local cinema that showed a feature film, a cartoon and a weekly serial.

My first film as an ‘adult,’ I suppose, was MGM’s musical of ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips’ that I spent nearly a year on. This was the last movie MGM made in the UK. MGM spent a fortune on this movie and it was a big flop.

I’ve never made a hit movie - even RHPS was a flop.

* You've done stage, screen, and music (as part of Truth and Beauty). What's your favorite creative outlet?

It has to be the stage. I did quite a bit of TV work but the camera never liked me and I never liked the camera. There is nothing better than getting up in front of a live audience and playing a role. In movies and TV there are always stops, starts. On stage you have somebody to play to, plus you get that adrenalin rush from an audience. That doesn’t happen when you’re in front of a camera.

* Unlike much of the rest of the film cast, you continued involvement with Rocky Horror, playing Riff Raff and appearing on at least one other cast album (the 1980s Australian release). What is your favorite Rocky-related story that goes with one of the photos in the book?

Favourite related story? Now there’s a tough one.

It’s a tie between:

Getting a fright by a packed room of unexpected guests, flash bulbs flashing for my surprise birthday party back in 1974. I think I went into shock! (page153)

And:

The photo of Pat, Steven, me, Nell and Barry at the Birmingham Comic Convention last year. We had such a great time, and for all of us to meet up together after decades was such a great thrill.

* You've been very approachable to fans, appearing at shadowcast shows (Paris; New Jersey; Spain) and attending conventions, notably performing as Space Riff at the Manchester 2005 con with Patricia Quinn and as the Usherette at the Celluloid Jam convention (co-produced by book producer Jim Hetzer). What do you enjoy about continuing contact with Rocky fans?

I have said it before: I have great respect for the fans. I love seeing them. It’s great to hear their stories and talk to them. There seem to be so many of you and so many generations following in the footsteps of past fans. They tell me things even I don’t know.

For the book I wasn't sure what was filmed first, the ballroom or the lab. I asked Pat, Nell, Barry and not one of us could remember - it was 40 years ago. It was the ballroom, the Time Warp (ask any fan, they’ll know).

Is there anything you'd like to tell Rocky Horror fans thinking about buying the book?

You are in for a real photographic treat. I have been so lucky as this book has been compiled by the most enthusiastic Rocky fans ever, Jim Hetzer and Chris Holley. A book by the fans for the fans. They knew exactly what the fans would like and some of their choices surprised me. The book is packed with photo after photo and only photos - great if you know somebody who is dyslexic. [Ed. Note: don’t worry, there are captions included at the end, as well as a lovely little 10 page introduction, which sets the stage.] Over 250 colour photos of my pictorial memories. So get it now, pick the book up, tub of ice cream in hand and enjoy. And a big thank you to Jim Hetzer and Chris Holley (and me) for their great work.

It was great when it all began - and it still is.

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