Saturday, June 9, 2012

Beyond Castle Frank-N-Furter

If you’re talking about what the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie cast did with their later careers, it’s easy to name off projects that Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Tim Curry appeared in post-“Time Warp.” Oh, and Meat Loaf continues to be Meat Loaf. How could he not be? The rest of the castmembers, however, didn’t exactly ride that midnight movie magic to mainstream success. But they didn’t just vanish, either. For example, Patricia Quinn, who played the evil domestic Magenta, appeared prominently in the BBC series and public TV mainstay I, Claudius.

guess which one is from i, claudius. go on — guess!
Quinn plays Livilla, Claudius’s sister, whose affair with solider played by a weirdly hunky Patrick Stewart earns her the grim fate of being locked in her room… forever. Literally. Her pained screams do nothing to move her mother, who’s so ashamed of Livilla that she’s fine with just letting her starve to death in the family home.

(Quinn is also the aunt of Jonny Quinn, the drummer from Snow Patrol. Who knew?)

But my favorite from Rocky Horror was always Magenta, the tap-dancing maid who talks like a gangster’s moll and whose solo in “Time Warp” is one of the best parts of the movie:

(Does Columbia kind of remind you of Harley Quinn a bit? The voice and the accent and the penchant for slapstick?)

So what did the actress who played Columbia, “Little” Nell Campbell, do after Rocky Horror? Well, she has acted quite a bit. She was in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Great Expectations, the Michael Caine-less sequel to Alfie that I just found out existed, and most randomly of all, The Killing Fields. But she also had a recording career that saw a disco cover of “Fever.” Weird as that is — and, I mean, go ahead and click that link, because it’s pretty weird — it’s not what ultimately prompted me to post all this. No, the song really worth mentioning is “Do the Swim,” from the album Aquatic Teenage Sex & Squalor. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been out of place in Rocky Horror itself, and it’s no surprise that the video has been screened before some presentations of Rocky Horror.

Here it is:

Some stray thoughts:
  • Wow.
  • If that’s how she actually swam, she’d have drowned by now.
  • Actually, the way the camera pans up into the bubbles at the end — and away from Campbell — kind of makes it look like she did drown.
  • I like how the song tells a story, and that it makes a point of setting the story last long weekend. Post pop songs lack such explicit narratives.
  • Doesn’t she kind of look like NewsRadio-era Vicki Lewis? And isn’t this something Vicki Lewis’s character from NewsRadio might have done?
  • You can’t say she’s not trying her damnedest up there.
  • I wonder if this arises from the same pop-cultural trend that was responsible for similar retro throwbacks by Kristy MacColl (1979’s “They Don’t Know”), Dee Walker (“1984’s “Jump Back”), Pat Wilson (1983’s “Bop Girl” — check for a 15-year-old Nicole Kidman in the video), Tracey Ullman (1983’s “Breakway”). And yes, that Tracey Ullman — the one responsible for The Simpsons.
  • All the names in the above bullet point sound like those belonging to women my mom might be friends with.
  • Doesn’t it sound like it’s “Yummy Yummy Yummy (I’ve Got Love in My Tummy)” at the beginning?
  • I will always be okay with songs that explain to you how to do the dance. This is why I continue to hate “The Loco-Motion.”
  • Her red one-piece makes it seem like one of the less famous Baywatch chicks got real drunk at a party and embarrassed herself.
  • I wouldn’t say it’s a great pop song, really, but it’s catchy as hell. I will be muttering “She’s a mer-mer-maid” for hours now.
And that, friends, is everything I have to say about the non-Susan Sarandon female castmembers of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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