When I found out they were about to put on the Rocky Horror Show for the third (or is it the fourth!) time in ten years I must admit to being a little cynical. Is there really still an audience out there who haven't seen it and still want to? Or are there sufficient addicts who've seen it fifty times and who'll gladly pay to see it another fifty? I was also skeptical about the production values. The show is to all intents and purposes a step-by-step, line-by-line remake of the original. Time warp indeed!

After much shuffling round and round Melbourne's huge old Princess Theatre I was finally introduced to a young man with bleached hair and a faceful of slap wrapped in a bright orange blanket, Steven Bastoni is the latest generation Rocky.
As we clambered up endless flights of rickety stairs above the backstage to reach Steven's dressing Room, he pointed out that we had met before.  We’d had  coffee and a chat over a year ago at a time when Steven and a mutual friend were working on Tess Lyssious's trilogy about migration to Australia.  The Journey is a long way, he agreed ,from this epic piece of historical Naturalism to the role of Rocky, it is also Steven's  first musical. How did he come to get the part I asked? It was quite by chance actually, my agent rang and said "I've got you an  audition for Rocky Horror"  and I said Yes but isn't that a musical? He said "yes, You do sing don't  you?" Well, in the shower  I said to him I've never sung before on stage so I wasn't extremely confident, as you might imagine I went in and was asked to sing Blue Suede Shoes which I didn't know, except the chorus I just sort of rambled that off. Then Daniel Abineri said great can you take your top off- I sort of went what? He said no. I'm not making a pass I've just got to see your body when we went back to the office he said," Id like to offer it  to you" and threw the script to me I went in there with dark hair no voice, a sort of surfer's body  They must have been hard up
I have seen enough of  Steve' s work to know that they certainly didn't cast him because they were hard up As well as bring exceptionally good looking, he is a highly professional and hardworking actor. What astonished me was not only that had he never sung on stage before, but that Steve must he one of the few people in the country who has never seen the show. He saw the film on video the day he got the part.

I thought God - they want me to look like that, and they want me to sing Jeez! They don't want much! The guy who plays Rocky in the film is incredible he manages to look so blank Either he's a very good actor or there's just nothing up there

I wondered how does this revival seemed to Steve? Does it feel like a bit of a time-warp?
It's weird, yeah I was only about ten and getting round with a skateboard and long hair in those days I remember hearing The Time Warp at the school socials and stuff I never got into it I didn't particularly like the song at the time I was more into Saturday Night Fever and stuff, so I missed out on that aspect of rock and roll, but I love it, it's a fantasy it's great, you can't go too far over the top.
How does it feel to be a fantasy figure, a figure of other people's fantasies?
"I don't think of myself as a fantasy If I did, I think I'd be pretty much in trouble. When I get out there I treat it like I have all my other characters, it's very different to all the other characters I've played, but it is still a character I just get out there and try and be a super hero as best I can, I mean, it's pretty hard to do really, because you haven't got laser beams for eyes and stuff in real life, so you just have to do your best with your movements and the way you present yourself the white hair helps and the make-up I hadn't got into heavy make-up before.
I had always thought of Rocky as something of a cheesecake part, but the way Steve described it it sounded like a very demanding role for the actor.
Yes. well physically it is, for sure I have to climb a pole and jump off a ladder and do handstands and push-ups and somersaults It's very physically and vocally demanding. I've just got over tonsillitis. It's good I got it now instead of two days from now That would have been a big, big drama. Come opening night and you've got no voice. |Rocky's accent] but I've got a body!

 

 

Steve Bastoni

         There is something very different about Steve Bastoni. His hair from having had Italian dark locks all his life, he now has a thin layer of bristle-sharp, bleached  blonde  hair, which stands erect and goes fluorescent under blue lighting. It's been a bit of a shock. The reason for the blonde look?  Steve Bastoni is currently playing Rocky, Frank N Furter's beauteous seven day creation, in The Rocky Horror Show, the he-man who everyone wants a piece of (well, one piece in particular). "I won't name the hairdresser," says Bastoni with his perennial  urchin grin, " 'cos they burned the fuck out of it, I was shocked, I looked in the mirror  and laughed for five minutes. I've never dyed my hair. I've always   liked being dark, being able to lurk in the shadows at nightclubs. Not any more. It's like a spotlight!" Mind you he does go surfing, and surfies are blonde, surely? "Yeah! I used to go to Sorrento in Victoria and got quite friendly with a group of surfies. The only problem was I was Italian, had dark hair and went to discos! But I could surf so I gained their respect and they turned a blind eye to the rest. I get a few odd looks at Bondi now, but there are guys out there with bleached blond mohawks, so it's becoming quite acceptable to have a radical haircut and still be a surfie."
Bastoni is half Italian. He was born in Rome, the son of a professed Italian machismo and a feminist Australian mother. When he was eight, his mother returned to the land down under taking her children with her. Bastoni still speaks Italian fluently and would like to go to Europe in the near future.
His upbringing, has he feels, contributed to his flair for comedy. In 1986 he was in a cabaret show called Cafe Misto which played as part of the Spoleto Festival in Melbourne, in which he was the head of the Misto family, a middle-aged, sleazy nightclub owner in white flares, lashings of gold from his fingers to his teeth, slick black hair and moustache. "He was a macho, ego-maniacal, sexist arse-hole," pronounces Bastoni with relish, "great fun to play. I love sending those guys up. I've been exposed to a lot of people   like   that.   At   high school I tended to hang out in espresso bars more than I did in the classroom so I met a lot of those type of characters. They've such fragile egos. My Mum's been instrumental in showing me that side of humour. She's a fairly strong feminist and being married to an Italian, an Olympic canoeist too, for 25 years, she learned the ability to deflate egos!"

From as early as Bastoni can remember he has enjoyed play acting. In the valley he grew up in in Rome, he would don a different outfit each day. "One day I was Zorro, the next Robin Hood. I'd go out into the valley hunting lizards. At primary school I normally managed to swindle a   lead role in the school productions. I was always an attention seeker. I couldn't sit still in the class room without attracting attention in some way like farting out loud or throwing something at someone. I neglected my school work in favour of comedy. I guess it's paid off!" At the age of 11 he performed in a production called, appropriately enough Minestrone, playing a young boy in a private school who harassed all the priests. Typecasting?! His first big break came with a film called Skipping Class, produced and directed by Chris Warner and written with his wife, in which Bastoni played a student in a parent-teacher-student triangle. The film was nominated for an A.F.I. Award and got Bastoni an Equity card and an agent. Jo Litson.

 

 
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