‘Hot Rod’ Piper ready to rumble at Troc’s ‘They Live’ screening

Rowdy Roddy Piper wowed the crowd in his wrestling days.  Credit: Facebook
Rowdy Roddy Piper wowed the crowd in his wrestling days.
Credit: Facebook

When he arrived on the set of “They Live” in 1988, Rowdy Roddy Piper was at the height of his professional wrestling career. He had been involved in the main events of the first two WrestleManias, battling Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. “When I left wrestling they were very angry at me,” Piper recalls, “and Hollywood didn’t like me either because it was another jock wanting to become an actor. So it was a very difficult piece of work to do.”

Despite those circumstances, “They Live” became a sci-fi/action cult classic, and Piper will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sunday with a screening at the Troc as part of Awesome Fest. In the film, Piper plays John Nada, a drifter who comes across a pair of sunglasses that enable him to see aliens disguised as America’s ruling class, controlling humans via subliminal messages in media and advertising. Though aware of the film’s satirical take on Reaganomics, Piper says he steered clear of any political propagandizing.

“I don’t believe that I’m qualified to make a statement on the political atmosphere of the United States, because I’m not from this country,” says the Canadian-born Piper. “John [Carpenter, the writer/director,] was really serious about making a political statement. I remember going to a press conference and Carpenter would make me take my Rolex off because it wasn’t American-bought. But we both drove Cadillacs, so he was happy about that.”

The film is now famous for its extended back alley fight sequence between Piper and co-star Keith David, which took three weeks to rehearse. “That fight was a combination of what Rod learned off the street and what he learned in the ring,” says Piper, who lived in youth hostels for three years in his early teens, referring to his ring nickname, Hot Rod, in third person (his real name is Roderick George Toombs). “We went as far as we could possibly go with it, and with a little luck and a lot of pain, it turned out OK.”

Such grueling action may be one reason why the actor and director never reteamed, despite Carpenter’s initial plans to make the wrestler his muse. “He asked be to be the John Wayne to his John Ford,” Piper says. “But the first film was so difficult that we never did get into another one.”

Pity the fool
Although he makes occasional returns to the WWE to host his interview segment, Piper’s Pit, the 59-year-old Hot Rod is retired from the ring. A recent episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap” in which he appeared with longtime opponent Ric Flair, however, revealed that he’s now training his son, an amateur MMA fighter.

“I’m not happy about it at all,” he says. “I need a doctor or a lawyer; I don’t need another fighter in the family. But my son grew up with the most disliked wrestler in the world. I have no idea what it must have been like to go to school when your daddy wore a kilt and slapped Mr. T and kicked Cyndi Lauper. My son is so centered, he’s a better man than I’ll ever be. So whatever he does, I’ll support.”

“They Live” with Rowdy Roddy Piper
Sunday, 8 p.m.
The Trocadero
1003 Arch St.
$13-$75, 215-922-6888
www.theawesomefest.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…