During our interview with Bernie Bregman for Cosplay Crash Pad #5, Bernie touched on his involvement in the Rocky Horror Picture Show community. There was no way we were about to leave that out. No siree! We know you're dying with antici....pation. Without further adieu, we present an intimate bonus interview with Bernie Bregman!
I began performing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the famed Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles with one of the largest casts in the country. I had a weekly stage (in front of 250-300 people) while I hosted the show or played Brad, Rocky, and occasionally the over the top peacock Frank N Furter.
I produced the 35th and 38th Anniversary Rocky Horror conventions and redefined the bar for those events because I wanted that community to have some really special and amazing moments and I could see where the base format of these events had some room to improve and embrace our changing world. In the 18 months leading up to my first RHPS convention as a producer (SinsCon 2010), I toured the country, taking advantage of pre-existing travel plans and creating new trips so I could visit as many of the casts as possible. I especially wanted to hit casts that didn’t have a history of coming out to the Rocky conventions in force. I would ask to guest-host their show as MC, something that was never really done before. It’s often that a character performer would guest in another city, but hosting was different. I had built up a great rep as a host and was welcomed in to 17 different shows(cities) to MC the evening and talk to their cast and audience about the 35th Anniversary Convention my team was planning.
Through this I was both promoting the convention event as well as spreading good will throughout the community. Many of these outlying casts didn’t socialize with the larger group, not for any incident/reason other than they just didn’t know how to start. I took a battering ram to those imaginary walls and got them pumped about the greater community experience and showed them internet stops where they could insert themselves into our matrix as well as educated them about other regional Rocky events they should get involved in. The deconstructing of these mental hang-ups led to SinsCon being the largest attended Rocky Horror convention in the previous decade (and 6 years since). At many of the annual conventions (though not at all of them) when there’s a worthy recipient, an award is given on behalf of the world-wide fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show to someone who’s had a large-scale positive impact on the community and helped to spread the word of the Rocky Horror fandom.
The previous recipients of this “BOSS Award” (named after the tattoo on Frank N Furter’s arm) were the voting committee for new members comprised of some true pioneers of the early Rocky Horror phenomenon. I was asked to give 15 minutes to them for a Boss Award presentation in the programming schedule of the convention. I had no idea at the time but the 13th BOSS Award would be presented to me on that day for my service to and expansion of the Rocky Horror community. Today there are 18 BOSS Award recipients and they’ve all been amazing contributors to the community.
In 2007 I received a similar regional award, The David Award, for contributions to the Southern California Rocky Horror community. It’s literally a scale of Michelangelo’s David statue holding a speaker (as seen in the lab set of Rocky Horror Picture Show). I’ve got both my David and my BOSS displayed in a hallway at home, right next to the most peculiar piece of movie memorabilia in Rocky Horror- Barry Bostwick’s tighty-whities from playing Brad. It’s a long story…
In 2011 I identified that the RKO Army, the performing cast in Rhode Island (ALL of Rhode Island), had been building a very strong brand as creative and entertaining people with a great production value that anyone would love to party with. It was time for them to throw a convention. They have an incredible leader in Roy Rossi, and a menagerie of talented sub group leaders throughout their cast which is known for going above and beyond Rocky Horror and launching and maintaining regular occurring shadowcast shows (some quarterly, some annually) of the following: Repo The Genetic Opera, Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling, Serenity, Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog, and more.
I offered to co-produce the convention with Roy and guide them through the process while still maintaining their personal RKO identity to the convention. RKO Con was an incredibly well executed Rocky Horror convention in August of 2013 punctuated by two nights of the “No Picnic” party which overtook the entire top floor of the Omni Providence, bookended by the President’s Suite and Governor’s Suite. That is an entire hotel floor party, every single room with opened doors and socializing. This past August saw the return of RKO Army to the convention game with RKO Con 2, another fantastic event and the announcement that they’ll be back in 2019 to service the community once more.
As my role in pop-culture conventions has expanded I could no longer shoulder the producer load the way I did, but I didn’t need to because Roy and his team are amazing. I produced sections of the convention and hosted it and we all had a grand time.