The next time you’re kicking yourself that you missed ArtJones Studio Tour (this year Dec. 2-3, with 11 studios and 29 Gulfport artists) — or if you wish you could find more Florida artists working in home studios — check out the Off the Beaten Path art tour in Central Florida.
If you do, you’ll meet Barry Bostwick.
That’s because the actor most people remember best as Brad Majors in Rocky Horror Picture Show is also a potter.
Barry Bostwick: See What’s on the Slab
“I have a studio in Eustis. I’m part of the Off the Beaten Path art tour every year, where people come and visit our studios,” Bostwick says. The tour typically showcases 16-18 artists, he says.
Bostwick’s made pottery for more than three decades.
“I was taught by a Japanese master potter at UCLA years ago, so my sensibilities are always more in Japanese shapes and textures and colors and Wabi-Sabi attitude,” he says. “It’s fun; it gives you energy. I don’t really sell myself; it’s more a labor of love for me.”
Bostwick and his wife Sherri moved to Mount Dora to live closer to her mother.
“We abandoned California,” he says. “My wife was bright enough to say, ‘Why don’t we move closer to my mother and buy a house there?’,” he explains.
His mother-in-law died last year, but the Bostwicks stayed.
“We love it here,” he says.
He’ll leave Mount Dora — for the day, at least — and head to downtown St. Pete, where he’ll help celebrate the film that launched him into the cultural zeitgeist: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
What Have You Done with Brad?
RHPS fans may or may not know Bostwick had a career before he did the Time Warp.
“I created the part of Danny Zucco in Grease on Broadway,” Bostwick says. “I jokingly say I played John Travolta before John Travolta became John Travolta.”
That made it easy for Bostwick to jump to the left into the cast of RHPS, which hit theaters in 1975.
“I had a history of musicals and rock musicals in New York on the stage. It sort of was in my wheelhouse. I had done some television and some independent features. This was sort of a one-off job, It was like the extension of an off-off Broadway play,” he says, “that I was very comfortable with.”
Despite his history of musical theater, Bostwick never played Brad Majors in Richard O’Brien’s musical, Rocky Horror Show.
“And I wouldn’t want to. Because now the audience yells at you live onstage. It went from being just in the movie theater, where we were just being celluloidal, and we didn’t have to react. And the people who do it onstage, all of sudden the audience feels the right to interrupt them,” he says. “The spontaneity of that frightens me. I don’t know if I could keep up with the witticisms and inane comments thrown at an actor who is just trying to do his job, dammit.”
After a lengthy, successful career, does he resent that most of the English-speaking world likely associates his name and face with a cult classic showcasing cross-dressing, sexual exploration, and sexual freedom?
“No,” he answers without hesitation. “I’ve done a lot of things and I don’t think anything has been as meaningful from a societal and political [perspective]. I think the movie has changed lives, not just entertainment.”
“I think people who are on the fence about their sexuality or ability to engage in the world, it became a funhouse for the misfits; the people who didn’t belong to the chess club or the band club — they joined the Rocky Horror club, on a quest to live a genuine life and discover who they really are by seeing something so radical as this. I think it knocks them out of a ‘I’ve got to be one way or another’ place.”
It’s Not Easy Having a Good Time
For all the times an outcast plunked down cash for a movie ticket ($2 in 1975; $11 today), hurled toast at the movie screen, and did the Time Warp in the aisle, Bostwick’s made no residuals. He earned $10,000 for his role as Brad Majors. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $59,000.
That, he says, is “one of the reasons we’re not that nervous about it [working as an actor promoting a movie during the SAG-AFTRA strike]; we never got any residuals. It was done, made, way before those kinds of things existed.”
“It’s still part of my life; part of my heart. I have no regrets,” he says. “I’ve luckily been able to make a living without The Rocky Horror Picture Show being my income.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t make some money off his role as Brad Majors.
“I do the occasional convention,” he says. “At some conventions I’ll sell my underwear; my tighty whiteys.”
And what’s the going rate for Barry Bostwick’s underwear?
“50 bucks each,” he says. “It’s helping put our kids through college. My side hustle is my underwear.”
See Barry Bostwick at The Rocky Horror Picture Show
While he won’t be there in his BVDs — “those days are over,” he says — you can meet Barry Bostwick when he introduces the shadow cast at The Rocky Horror Picture Show Friday, Sept. 29. There’s also a VIP meet-and-greet where he’ll sign autographs (BYOBVDs, please) and chat with fans.
“It’s just a party; everybody gets together. There’s usually a lot of virgins. So we go through a lot of lipsticks, putting Vs on foreheads. It’s a passage into our club and it’s three generations later, and to me, it’s an astonishing evening seeing grandparents bringing their grandchildren to it, introducing them to it, and kids who you know have snuck out of the back door of their house… they come into the theater and it changes their lives,” he says, laughs, and adds: “and then they have to sneak home again.”