‘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
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

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

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…