This weekend the husband and I are going to see John Waters. I am beyond excited. Here is the description of the event: “John Waters’ one-man show/vaudeville act celebrates the film career and obsessive tastes of the man William Burroughs once called “The Pope of Trash.” Focusing on Waters’ early negative artistic influences and his fascination with true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy, and the extremes of sexual politics, this joyously devious and continuously updated monologue is a rally cry against the tyranny of good taste and serves as a call to arms for filth followers everywhere.”
I’ve been a Waters fan since seeing Cry Baby and Hairspray as a kid and stayed a fan when venturing into his other movies and books when I got a bit older. My kid loves the Hairspray play and remake, so I’m counting that too.
He gets a lot of internet mileage with this popular quote, “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!” but there is so much more out there to make you love and admire John Waters. Or maybe not. He isn’t for everyone. To help you make up your mind, I’m going to share ten things John Waters’ said. Mostly just things collected from random interviews available online.
1. Once I had a shrink who said, “Your parents are the fuel you run on,” because I was raised in the tyranny of good taste. If my parents hadn’t taught me all that, I couldn’t have made fun of it.
TimeOut New York, 2014
2. The worst thing you can do is make a cult movie. That means you got three great reviews and nobody went. An art film means it got a lot of good reviews and nobody went. There is no such thing as a counter culture now. What used to be considered that is commercial now.
The Big Issue, 2014
3. I love Christmas because it’s a time that’s extreme for everybody. No matter what, something is going to happen, you can’t avoid it. You have to have clothes for it, too, which I love—in December, I’m like a drag queen on Halloween: I work. So I have to look all year for clothes that I can wear in my Christmas show.
4. You can’t order up your kids, and you can’t order up your parents. Whatever you have, you gotta deal with. I always tell parents who come to me with their daughter and her whole face is tattooed, “Let her open a tattoo parlor.”
5. Good bad taste is celebrating something without thinking you’re better than it. You think it’s so amazing, and you could have never even thought it up. But the people who have [this thing] have it without irony.
6. I’m always amazed at friends who say they try to read at night in bed but always end up falling asleep. I have the opposite problem. If a book is good I can’t go to sleep, and stay up way past my bedtime, hooked on the writing. Is anything better than waking up after a late-night read and diving right back into the plot before you even get out of bed to brush your teeth?”
Role Models, 2010
7. I’m perpetual tourist, and that’s the best way to travel. Nobody gets used to you, you make new friends without having to hear anyone’s everyday problems, and you jet back still feeling like a know-it-all.
Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, 1986
8. Early in my career, it was fine to have no money. Everyone starts out without money. But I have four employees today. I have no desire to be a faux-underground filmmaker at 68 years old. I don’t have any needlepoint pillows with slogans on them, but if I did, it would be “Don’t Go Backward.”
The Dissolve, 2014
9. So I try to be humble, and I never say anything bad about something unless it’s something that everyone in America loves and has made a million dollars. Who cares if I say anything? I learned a long time ago that people like my work because I praise things that others don’t like, and as soon as I say something negative about somebody, I go to a dinner party and I’m seated next to them accidentally.
10. It’s funny, I get older and my audience gets younger. I do these book signings, and there are kids there who weren’t born when I made my later films. And I like kids. I mean, who else is going to take care of me when I’m sick?