What Ever Happened to Rusty Bolts?

first performed at Wax Studios Inc in 1999

the exhibition of 40 items from Rusty’s career
consists of action figures, press clippings, movie stills,
products and posters

designed & created by Tania Donald & Peter Leiss
written by Tania Donald & Simon Park
produced & directed by Tania Donald & Peter Leiss

Peter Leiss as Rusty Bolts
Simon Park as Russell Packett

It is 1977. Ageing Hollywood movie star Rusty Bolts is alone on the stage. Rusty is a shambolic figure, the worse for drink, hard living, and sleeping in his clothes for far too long. In his late fifties, there is still something youthful and handsome about him, as though with a shower, shave and haircut, and some clean clothes, he would still be a presentable film star. This is just the impression Rusty has “groomed himself” to avoid. We find Rusty, as usual, brooding, melodramatic, drifting in the currents of his own memories, bitterness, vitriol and confusion. Above all, he is determined to try to tell it like it really was, however ugly or unflattering.

excepts from Rusty Bolts' one man version

Rusty (lost in a reverie)
Am I Rusty Bolts? No, no not any more. I’m simply the keeper of the ashes of the flame that once burned...as Rusty Bolts! I’m just the urn - the neglected headstone that stands decaying, in the windswept cemetery of souls that is Hollywood.

Look at me…I’m fat and old and sick, and I’m proud of it. My matinee idol days are gone forever - twenty years of drinking, smoking and seething resentment have made sure of that. Of course, it hasn’t been easy. It took a lot longer than I expected; I’ve worked very hard at letting myself go. I’ve struggled with the pretty boy in the mirror all these years, like a Dorian Grey in reverse. If people are disappointed then I’ve achieved something. Shock and revulsion would be great, but I’ll settle for disappointment.

Oh, I long to be ugly, a gargoyle, a freak, but I’m damned to be beautiful. Women adore me, and I despise them for it. But still they pursue me.
Ahhh, what do I care anymore, I’m dying.... the doctors have some fancy name for what I’ve got, but I can tell you what it really is. I’m dying of rage, bitterness, disgust and contempt. But it wasn’t always that way…

I was born in 1920, in Hollywood. Both my parents were in the movies - my Mom was Sonnie Day, the silent film star, the 'Gee Whiz' Girl herself.
Yup. On the screen, she was a good-time party girl, a vivacious 'flapper', but at home we saw a different woman - morose, bitter and angry over the triviality of her career, and the mediocrity of the industry that had buried her alive. You see, although she was a big star in her heyday, she was one of those actors who never quite made the transition to talking pictures. Maybe it was because she was a mute. Not that the studio minded, (brooding) but that Harpo Marx bastard had the monopoly on mute roles, and he wanted to keep it that way. Contrary to appearances he was quite the tough-guy - he'd grown up alongside gangsters and thugs in one of New York's roughest neighbourhoods, and he had no qualms about using intimidation and cruelty to get what he wanted. (Absorbed in the horror of his recollections) Every night for three months he played his harp outside our window...(lost) god, I can still hear it now - we'd stuff our ears with cottonwool but it was no use...(shudders) Driven to the precipice of insanity, my mother turned her back on the movies, and ended her days in seething resentment, lying, for weeks on end, brooding, almost catatonic, on the couch. I swore then that, whatever else I did, I'd never let myself end up like her. (pause, Rusty has a fleeting feeling that he already has turned out like her. Changes the subject.)

 My father was in the movies too. He was the German cinematographer Gnuttsen Boltsz, Fritz Lang's “assistant.” (Angrily, hotly) Assistant! Lang made a career out of stealing my father's ideas! Poor old pops never did learn to read English very well, and by the time he realised that he wasn't being given the screen credit he deserved, it was too late. Fritz Lang was a vampire feeding on my father's genius. He devoured him. I've been fighting for years to have the directing credits changed on those movies!(makes a disgusted, exasperated gesture or sound) In the end, my father was an empty, defeated shell of a man. Destroyed and forgotten by Hollywood, left for dead by the studio that had robbed him of the best years of his life! But I have no sympathy for my father. He was a failure! A broken man! My hatred has sustained me, strengthened me! If I can still hate Hollywood after all this time, they haven't beaten me yet.

I never wanted to be in the movies. No, classical music was my first love. I was a child prodigy on the piano; giving public recitals at age nine, performing with an orchestra at 12, tours, awards, scholarships - a place was waiting for me in Vienna's finest conservatorium. Then a Hollywood talent scout spotted me during my first performance at Carnegie Hall. I was a naive youth, with a head full of music and crazy dreams, and they promised that I would be to the piano what Fred Astaire was to dancing in the movies. But somehow my piano playing scenes never got filmed. It took me a long time to realise, it wasn't my talent they wanted, it was my looks - my looks and my soul.  And too late I discovered that I'd signed it all away...I never touched the piano again. People have often asked me if I regret getting into the movies…but I don't believe in regrets. Oh sure, if I'd stayed with the piano I probably would have been rich, creatively fulfilled, and leading a worthwhile and happy life now, but I've never let regrets get the better of me. Yes, I curse the day that talent scout was born. Yes, I curse the gods who gave me the incredible good looks which have made people continually try to possess, exploit, or underestimate me through the years. Yes, I have vowed in blood to avenge myself on fate and my maker - but regret...that's something else altogether…

All Rights Reserved © Dr Tania Donald 1998-2007




© Peter Leiss 2007 All Rights Reserved
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