Rocky Horror show creator masters the arts

The creator of the cult movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show was honoured last night with a special award from Wintec.

Richard O’Brien received an Honorary Master of Arts for his contribution to the arts and commitment to the Waikato arts community.

“Not only is he a role model and an inspiration to many, he is also generous in sharing in his great experience and knowledge,” said Wintec chair Mary Cave-Palmer.

CLOAK AND ALL: Honorary recipient, Richard O’Brien and Wintec Chair, Mary Cave-Palmer.
CLOAK AND ALL: Honorary recipient, Richard O’Brien and Wintec Chair, Mary Cave-Palmer.

Cave-Palmer said despite O’Brien not being a student he deserved the honorary degree as his body of work met the qualification requirements.

“Richard is proof that art and business can combine, and that our city can produce talented people who operate on a global level in the arts.”

The formal award ceremony was followed by dinner and entertainment in The Atrium.

O’Brien said he did not think he would ever get academic recognition.  “Now I am an academic. Eat your hearts out all those without honours,” O’Brien said after the award.

“I think it’s terribly nice. I left school when I was 15; I was a lost soul really.”

O’Brien moved from England to New Zealand as a schoolboy in 1951.

After leaving Hamilton as a young man O’Brien began riding horses in movies as he tried to break into the industry in Britain, a skill he learned while living in New Zealand. His break came with the musical Rocky Horror Show.

And, of course, yesterday he had some advice for students – do what you love, and money and acclaim will follow.

He said he believes he is the luckiest man in the world. “My life has been a series of good fortune.”

Wintec’s honorary recipients must have made a significant contribution to Wintec, the region or the nation over a number of years through innovation in industry or business, scholarship and research, or enhancing New Zealand society.

Other honorary degree recipients include netballer Irene van Dyk, designer Annah Stretton, and Sir Edmund Hillary.