Interview: Patricia Quinn from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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The Guide spoke exclusively to actress Patricia Quinn about her upcoming date in Peterborough, and her place in Rocky Horror history.

The Guide spoke exclusively to actress Patricia Quinn about her upcoming date in Peterborough, and her place in Rocky Horror history.The Guide: Am I right in thinking you were a bunny girl before you went into acting?

Patricia: "I was working as a bunny girl at The Playboy Club and then I went to drama school. I saw an advert in The Stage and went to the playclub and did my interview in my swimsuit and high heels . . . that was very exciting, and on the same day I had my audition for drama central, so I had to take off all my makeup and go over there– so I actually got both on the same day".

Tell us about how you became involved in Rocky Horror?

"It was the most extraordinary thing. When I did the audition it was at a 60-seat theatre upstairs at The Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court. My agent said it was a musical and you have to sing something rock 'n' roll-ish, and I went to audition and I was wearing this amazing jacket my friend had got me with leopardskin sleeves and a picture of the Taj Mahal on the back, and I walked in and saw Richard (O'Brien, the eccentric creator of the show) and these guys and I thought these were my kind of people.

"I sang for them and I'd chosen at Josie Matthews song . . . they must have thought I was mad, but Richard asked me to sing this song (opening number) Science Fiction, and I went skipping down Sloane Square afterwards singing this song. I knew I wanted to do it because of the song".Did you have any idea just what a phenomenon it would become?

"I could never imagine that at the time, except when we first started doing it on the stage. I would go backstage to this little office to change from the usherette to Magenta, and if people turned up late they would have to come in through this office.

"I was there one day and (Rudolf) Nureyev came through. Later we had Vincent Price and Mick Jagger, all coming to see this musical in a 60-seat theatre."

And later you went back to play Magenta in the film . . .

"They said they were going to make a film and I wasn't sure, but Richard O'Brien said 'always say no after lunch' . . . they said I wouldn't be able to sing Science Fiction (it was eventually sung by O'Brien himself, sped up) and I said I wouldn't do it, because I was a very arrogant young actress at the time!

"But they said I should look at the sets and everything, so I went and had a look . . . there was the pink laboratory set and all the costumes and all the designs. We'd had really nothing on the stage, so when I saw how they were expanding it I decided to do it."

You'll be doing a Q and A in Peterborough and meeting some of the fans. Does their level of dedication ever surprise you?

"There's nothing that surprises me any more! I've ended up in leather bars in New York talking about it. It's funny, because some time ago I said to someone that I'd still be talking about this when I'm 90.

"The film stands up and the music is just so good, that people are introduced to it from a young age . . . there's nobody who doesn't know The Timewarp.

"My nephew Jonny Quinn. He's the drummer in Snow Patrol, and at his wedding they asked me to do The Timewarp with the band they had hired for the day, and everyone was up doing it, and it was amazing.

"But coming to the festival will be good because the event is unique, I would say. I've never done an outdoor screening like this in Britain before."

You're also known for playing Christabel Pankhurst, roles in Doctor Who, and you did the Vagina Monologues as well.Is there a role that you have particularly fond memories of?

"Well, I loved playing Christabel Pankhurst in Shoulder To Shoulder, and I loved my Lady Macbeth, but I also had the chance to play Elizabeth Siddal with Ben Kingsley as Rosetti (in The Love School), and then I did I Claudius. They were big television shows that they don't have the money to make any more – it was a fantastic time to be working in television."

An Audience with Patricia Quinn will be at the Key Theatre on Saturday, July 5 from 7.15pm. Tickets, priced 5 (4 concessions) are available now on 01733 552439 or at