Richard O’Brien, Not Just Any Old Riff Raff

Do you remember the first time you saw Rocky Horror Picture Show? Were you prepared to throw rice? Toast? Use a squirt gun? A lighter? Could you dance “The Time Warp”?

Sing it with me, “Let’s do the Time Warp again . . .”

Wasn’t that fun. And Christopher Lee to boot!

Meet the mind behind the cult classic, born Richard Timothy Smith on March 25, 1942, he is better known for his stage name, Richard O’Brien. Or if you’re a fan of the movie, Riff Raff.

In 1951, his father bought a sheep farm in Tauranga, New Zealand, where the family emigrated to from England.

While growing up in New Zealand, he developed an interest in horror films and comic books. He eventually left the farm in Tauranga and moved to Hamilton. There he worked at a barber shop and spent many hours attending films next door at the Embassy Theatre. It was during his tenure in Hamilton he developed the story, which would eventually become The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

During an interview, Richard said of the movie, “The most amazing thing that Rocky’s done is put the fish nets (stockings) into Halloween . . . If you were the person who put the bunny into Easter you’d be quite proud wouldn’t you.” What a humble man. 😉

He writes, sings, performs, and is probably best known in England as the host of the game show, The Crystal Maze. Or perhaps you remember his performance as Pierre Le Pieu in Ever After, A Cinderella Story?

In 2004, The Hamilton City Council honored him for his contributions to the arts with a statue of Riff Raff. It is located on the site of the old Embassy Theatre. They heralded him as a son of New Zealand.

What ever you do, do not ask the locals for directions. They have no idea where it is.

Using a map, GPS, and sheer chutzpah, my sister and I found the statue after a two hour search. Never give up! By the way, they have a great Indian restaurant in Hamilton if you’re ever there. Try the Papadum. Delish.

Using a map, GPS, and sheer chutzpah, my sister and I found the statue after a two hour search. Never give up! By the way, they have a great Indian restaurant in Hamilton if you’re ever there. Try the Papadum. Delish.

In 2010, Richard decided to retire to New Zealand where most of his family lives. Thinking it would be a slam dunk, he applied to become a citizen, but was denied citizenship owing his age at the time exceeded the country’s immigration criteria. His application garnered a great deal of public support and the decision was overturned on appeal. He was officially registered as a citizen of New Zealand on December 14, 2011.

So, if you were watching the Live Riff Raff Cam on the evening of November 6, 2011, you would have seen me dance the Time Warp.

It’s just a jump to the left . . . .

Tracy—Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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19 Responses to Richard O’Brien, Not Just Any Old Riff Raff

  1. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    Meet Richard O’Brien, the mind behind Rocky Horror Picture Show. This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names.

  2. wdydfae says:

    Hey, I actually do remember the first time I saw RHPS! Thanks for the time warp!

  3. kerbey says:

    I was about 7 when I saw the movie, so you can imagine how seeing Rocky and Brad in a bed might confuse a child, but I did memorize the soundtrack at that time. I had no idea that a country could deny one citizenship simply due to their cootness!

  4. Liz says:

    now there’s a classic, Fannie! What a fun research subject 🙂 lol the live Riff Raff Cam. And love that there is someone out there who thought to install a live RR Cam. Thanks for the morning smiles!

    • Liz–I have no idea when a cult movie becomes a classic, but I would agree, it was fun to research. The movie turns 40 in 2015. And it doesn’t look a day over 10. 😉

      The live RR cam is a hoot. They even have foot steps embedded into the side walk to help with the moves. I suspect they are really there to get people lined up with the camera.

      Glad I could assist with the morning smiles!

  5. amb says:

    Damn it, Janet !!!

    Teehee. I love this show so much! What a fun research subject is right! Thanks for bringing fishnets into my week, Fannie 😉 Loved this post!

  6. ksbeth says:

    i love that there is a riff raft statue )

  7. aplscruf says:

    That is so awesome that you got to visit the Riff Raff statue! I had no idea, first of all, that he was the mind behind Rocky Horror, or that his statue resides in NZ, or that you actually hunted it down! Very cool. I was also too young at the time to go to the big show in Seattle at the Neptune. My friend, who had very liberal parents (well, to say the least), would go pretty often. She had the soundtrack on vinyl, so we memorized the songs and she taught me all the funny dance moves!

  8. Dave says:

    Well, aside from the fact that Rocky Horror Picture Show is only my sixth or seventh favorite movie starting with “Rocky”, I have enjoyed it a time or two. Not sure if “Richard O’Brien” is a particularly funny name, but Riff Raff certainly is!

  9. Pingback: In Keeping with the Peculiar Theme this Week | Fannie Cranium's

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