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November 2008 Fan

Bernie Bregman

Bernie as Farley Flavors
Bernie as Farley Flavors

I first saw Rocky Horror live in a theatre Halloween of 1994 at the Rialto Theatre (Voyeuristic Intention). Flashback 2 weeks previous to this experience -- I'm on the phone with my girlfriend, and she tells me that she and her friend are watching 'Rocky'. My response was 'I LOVE ROCKY. It's one of my favorite movies! I'll be right over.' When I get there, the two girls are dancing the Time Warp on a coffee table... wrong Rocky. My first response was 'That's Wadsworth... in drag?!' I didn't get it. They dressed me up like Eddie (after I stubbornly refused to wear women's lingerie) and dragged me to the midnight show at the beautiful Rialto. I don't remember much but a surly Lars Ulrich-looking Riff named Jeff Foss, their Dolly Parton-esque Magenta Shelly, and lesbian twister during the dinner scene.

All in all I had no clue what was going on, but I gave it another shot a few months later at the Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles, and I was hooked. I was just starting to come out of my social shell at age 16, and I first fell in love with the audience participation aspect of the phenomenon. I wanted to be like those hilarious guys yelling lines in the aisles. I wanted to entertain people and make them laugh. After a while, the pleasantly plump homosexual man playing Brad realized I wasn't going to sleep with him no matter how many times he got me into the theatre for free, and I didn't want to cough up the 6 bucks each week (it's now $10.50... le sigh), so I joined the tech crew, before taking the big leap to play Brad in '97. It was all downhill from there. I found my niche. My family had always been in the entertainment industry: my great-grandfather was a vaudeville star and played the Tin Man in that flick from 1939. My grandpa was a composer, and my dad did music as well. I can't sing a lick, can't play a single note on an instrument, I'm about the worst dancer this side of the Mississippi, and I detest Hollywood's seedy underbelly, which I saw all too often growing up. Rocky was it. It was perfect. I had something fun and creative to do; I met all sorts of extraordinary people; I fit in.

Bernie as Brad
Bernie as Brad

The real hook was the 1998 RockyCon at the 4 Queens in Las Vegas. I saw a couple of exquisite Brads in the costume contest (Bay Area guys, I believe Jeff from BL and Dan of Bawdy... or vice versa) who inspired me to go home and find every perfect little detailed piece of costume I could. I saw the Pink Invaders' first go-round of the Thriller Preshow and Bawdy's "Brad's Inferno". I knew I wanted to do things like that. They were in my brain somewhere. So I spent a year honing my personal performance and costume, and collected Best Brad awards at Bay Area 2000, 25th Anniversary Con, and FGTH 2001 before retiring from Brad competition. I participated in Sins O' The Flesh' big new genre preshows: Andrew Lloyd Webber Presents: RHPS, Tim Burton Horror, and the Tarantino Horror Show. Jason, Liz, and I wanted to expand and do new things. We started with Shock Treatment in 2001 where I fell in love with Farley. I love playing Farley more than any other Rocky/Shocky character. He's just soo intense, and that white suit is sexxxxxy! That was the first domino to fall -- since then we've gone on to do Clue, Grease 2, Cry Baby, and Super Troopers, and I directed the last three.

2002 was a big turning point. Someone broke into my car and stole the duffel bags with all of my intensely-accurate Brad and Eddie costuming (along with hundreds of CDs). I was in complete shock. 5 years of hard work and over $1500 putting together various generations of those costumes till I had them nearly perfect... gone. I thought about quitting. The thought of going through that process again was mind-bogglingly intimidating. I was rummaging through some of my older stuff to see what I could put together to fulfill my performing duties while I made my decision, and I realized that my Brad tuxedo jacket and pants still hung in my closet. In the pocket I found the ring-box, and in it my Denton High 1963 class ring with the Junior Chamber of Commerce symbol. I also had about 2 yards of the right plaid for my cummerbund, and I had framed my bowtie from the 25th anniversary along with the award certificate. Taking stock, I realized that, although I'd lost things that were hard to replace, like a Milbro, perfect Eddie rings, a very expensive floorshow outfit, and all the little Brad details, the truly hardest things, the ones that would eat away at me if I remade the costume without them, were still intact. But I had an epiphany -- I wanted to make a change. I started an intense exercise and dieting regime and lost 40 lbs. over the course of 4 months so that I could make a transition from Eddie as my second character to Rocky.

I was elected as Cast Leader of Sins in 2002 along with Jason, and my life changed. I made a commitment to a group of my friends and later to a larger community around the country. I'd never propose to tell another cast how they should do their thing, but I know our audience and I committed to making Sins the best show possible for them. Our crowd likes to see performers that are very accurate in look, costume, and performance, but they appreciate appropriate ad-libbing and overacting. It's a tricky balance and I've done my best to help make that happen. Along with the weekly Rocky I've encouraged the development of new preshows, and finally wrote my own with 2008's MONSTERS OF ROCKy, a labor of love that lay dormant in the back of my mind for years until I finally laid it out about 6 weeks before AC'08. In addition, I helped expand Sins' outreach by booking shows at outside venues like USC's campus and Zen, an LA Nightclub.

The host with the most
The host with the most

2 years ago, when I hit my 10 year anniversary I was a little burned out. Running a cast of 55+ can get pretty taxing and I nearly hung up my gold boots. But then we decided we were gonna throw a convention -- the one thing I've always wanted to do. Now with a chance to add new fun events, and to entertain hundreds of my nearest and dearest, I had a new bounce in my step. This was recently solidified at Atlantic City '08. I've loved every con I've been to for various reasons, but AC'08 brought me back to the feeling of the 4 Queens. There was something about the balance of it all that was just perfect. I also got to meet a lot of the east coast casts that hadn't come out to many west coast cons. I'm now completely invigorated.

The 35th was probably going to be my swan song, but now I can't see myself stopping there. There's too much to do, and too many people I'd miss. MONSTERS opened up my mind to many more preshows I want to do. The con made me want to travel to see the east coast casts. In 2009 I'll make it out to see HOH, NYC, RKO Army, FBC, Teseracte Players, and who knows who else. There's too many people I can't wait to see at every convention- Shawn Stutler, Ron and Hilary, Mike, Ruth, Larry, Liz x 2, Kate, Jamie, Jess, Steve, Julie B, Sal, Cosmo, Jenny, and countless others. I love my castmates, even the ones that can be a real pain in the tuchus. I love the relationships I have with very close friends around the country. I'm proud of the camaraderie I've helped Sins forge with all of our CA neighbors. We hang out with MI, we trade visits back and forth with CI down in San Diego's lovely La Paloma theatre, and we've got great relations with BL and Bawdy up in NoCal. We've forged camaraderie with a lot of other casts too, but sometimes "what happens at con, stays at con". ;-) I've done a lot, I've seen a lot (Twister in Brady's room... hullo!), and I've got a hunger for more. This phenomenon of Rocky Horror survives because of the incredibly creative, hard-working, and dedicated people in it, and I owe them, my cast, and the community all I can give as long as I can give it -- and that's what I'm going to do!

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