Charley Brown and Verity Lily Witzeman
Love at The Loft Cinema, Tucson, Arizona
Not your conventional relationship, but healthier than most, including your own parents', maybe? They've been together almost six years and they're still happy (weird, huh?). Verity and Charley point out that "Rocky Horror is one of (their) strongest bonds." The two perform with the local stage show cast, make costumes, and travel to national RHPS conventions together. They met at a Loft Cinema screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Tucson, during the month of August, 1991. She played with his hair, and he sucked on her fingers in the public darkness of the front row. On a hot summer's night, a fantastic Rocky romance was born. Five years later they were married in Las Vegas, by the reverend Bert Schnick. Their mock wedding ceremony opened RockyCon '96 at The Four Queens Hotel and Casino.
Verity Lily Witzeman has been into the RHPS thing for six years and has played Janet on a regular basis for the past three. She is a twenty-one-year-old psychology student at the University of Arizona whose life's ambition is to "host Love Line, and stare at glitter till (her) retinas burn out." Verity used to be a drama student until society convinced her to "get practical" (what a bad tip!). She is a consummate performer, who gives much pizzazz to her portrayal of Janet Weiss. Fit for the role, she has blonde hair, blue eyes, high energy, and a very sweet smile. I mean the girl's favorite TV station is the Gardening Channel, and she loves children and animals. Mostly she's wholesome. However, Verity does have a wild side that is a little out of the "Janet" character. She possesses a definite thing forHarley Davidson motor cycles, thong bikinis, Las Vegas and 70's music (wait a second, she's more like Janet than we thought!).
Verity (which means truth, in French) is a dual citizen of England and the United States. Of British ancestry, she has a certain European flair, which has earned her the esteemed title: Queen of Ambience. Her favorite art is impressionist, her favorite music Abba, Bjork, Bowie and classical. A woman of more the one great title, she is also a Lingerie Consultant for Frederick's of Hollywood, and a Cast Advisor for "A Jump to the Left", The Loft Cinema's live stage show.
Verity Lily's national RHPS credits (which she shares with her man, Charley) include: The Rocky Horror Picture Show "Age of Consent" 18th Anniversary Convention, hosted by the amazing Midnight Insanity cast of Long Beach, CA; and "The Master's Affair," Fox's official 20th Anniversary party in Los Angeles, CA -- where Verity performed as Janet Weiss on stage at Lou Adler's Roxy on Hollywood Blvd., then again the following evening at The Pantages on Sunset Blvd. She also appeared at the Las Vegas RockyCon 21st anniversary, hosted by the fabulous Megan Harris-Tabor; and then there was FOX Network's "Rocky Horror Picture Show" television premier, with live performance inserts, taped on location in the heart of downtown L.A., where Verity and Charley managed to get themselves into the movie itself. They also found a spot in the TV commercials promoting that FOX premiere. She says she does it for the attention and the adoration. In parting, Verity would like to urge all virgins to come to the dark side.
Born August 19, 1963, in Tucson, Arizona, Charley Brown has been going to Rocky since the summer of 1979. He's what you call a veteran fanatic. Half French, half Italian, Charley was adopted before he was born by a blue-collar, middle-class family who didn't drop him and fed him regularly. In the true spirit of the Old West, he was taught to be a cowboy. He owned a Arabian horse, Stetson cowboy hat, and Wrangler jeans, listened to country and western music, even chewed Skoal tobacco (yeck!). Then, two things happened: first, high-school drama class, and then Rocky Horror.
At the tender age of fifteen, Charley was taken the first time to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show with his friends from drama class. Shocked by the the loud comments from the audience, amazed by the costumes and make-up, stimulated by the sexually charged energy and general open-mindedness of the crowd, he was hooked on the whole RHPS scene and recalls that "everyone had a happy glow about them and there was little prejudice." Charley became an official part of the Loft cast in 1981 when the other cast members needed someone to play Rocky Horror. He had been waiting for any opportunity to be "in cast," and after having great fun playing Rocky awhile, he then realized he had not the muscle required. He played Brad once or twice, and then Riff-Raff for about six months. Finally, he played Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and there he got comfortable...for the next 16 years.
CB has played Dr. Frank-N-Furter on a regular basis throughout six different generations of Loft casts since 1982. Charley's first convention was Rocky's Sweet Sixteen (1991) in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was possibly the first Megan Harris convention, complete with showgirls and a professional Madonna impersonator. His first convention performance was at RockyCon '93, in Vegas once more. There he performed the original London Theater Upstairs version of "Sweet Transvestite." He then wiped off the makeup and went back out as Tim Curry in "Paradise Garage," a performance which earned him a great big unsolicited compliment from RHPS fan club president, Sal Piro.
Charley claims the most memorable convention he has attended was the "Master's Affair" (1995), FOX's 20th RHPS Anniversary event where -- in one weekend -- he met Richard O'Brien, Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn, Christopher Malcolm (Brad in the original London stage RHS), Lou Adler, and Dori Hartley. The highlight of his weekend was receiving an ALL ACCESS backstage pass for the entire Pantages Theater event. Sal Piro gave it to him in order that he might perform as a background dancer for Dori Hartley during her live performance (not lip sync) of "Sweet Transvestite." He fondly remembers Dori Hartley as a nice person who made their one rehearsal quick and painless, then helped him to suppress the stage fright that came with the 2,000 seat Pantages theater.
Playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter is an absolute pleasure for Charley. "I don't get any kind of sexual kick from this," he says. "I'm straight, actually. I do get a lot of attention from adoring, and sometimes scantily-clad, females when I look wild like Frank." He is driven by the mass attention, and the challenge of acting a difficult role "all the way". He has found a thrill receiving extreme emotional reactions from others as a result of his appearance. To Charley, the diverse reactions he receives are actually part of a big psychological study on people, how comfortable they are with their own sexuality and how they affect others. In his words, "It's entertaining to be shocking." CB claims that "too many people are affected in the wrong way by makeup and clothing." He wants them to realize that "some of the nicest men in the world wear fishnets and garters, whereas some of the meanest, nastiest and most evil bastards on planet Earth wear suits and ties." In other words, "don't judge a book by its cover."
Being a part of the Rocky madness is a fantastic and life-long journey for Charley, who has seen RHPS in the theater over 2,000 times, and is still counting. Now in semiretirement from playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter, he limits his Frank performances to conventions, special occasions and filling in for The Loft's current Frank, Willie Cabrera. CB devotes his time and energies to the active role of Autistic Director for "A Jump to the Left" (the Loft Cinema's RHPS cast), continually hosting the preshow ceremony and "Virgin Sacrifice," coordinating all cast meetings, delegating duties, promoting special performances, and doing the lion's share of the A.J.T.T.L cast business.
Now thirty-three, Charley Brown is an independent video director, producer and cameraman going on his twelfth year in the biz. He makes commercials, corporate presentations and documentaries such as "Live at the Art", an award-winning access television documentary shot on location at The Art Theater in Long Beach, CA. "Live at the Art" features vivid performance footage and in-depth interviews starring the members of Midnight Insanity, the Art Theater's amazing cast.
Verity Lily Witzeman and Charley Brown, a match made at Rocky. It's one of many, I am certain, though not as many are so steadfast and true. Relationships spark up at RHPS, both in love and friendship, simply because Rocky Horror creates an atmosphere where people are not afraid to speak freely and be themselves, or be someone else -- if that's who they want to be. Charley and Verity believe Rocky to be a great lift on the blanket of social repression, in a time when people are scared to be human.