As I have mentioned here several times before, I have been obsessed with the 60’s for pretty much my entire life – case in point, one of my favorite movies growing up was John Waters’ Hairspray. I longed to have the amazing hair, the delicious dresses and the ability to dance my ass off on The Corny Collins Show. I loved John Waters because he made this movie, and had no idea of his sleazy past.
At 15, one of my best friends in high school decided that we should watch Pink Flamingos for New Years Eve. Hearing John Waters was the director, I readily agreed, not realizing that my innocent eyes and soul were about to become irreparably corrupted. I blanched almost immediately when I understood what the next 90 minutes or so would entail, and have still not had the courage to re-watch it. I was shocked and appalled – John Waters would have been thrilled.
Older, and a lot more used to crazy films, I now can fully understand and appreciate the sum of all of John Waters’ work. I have all of his books and read them repeatedly. The thing that I love so much about him is that he revels in what most people try their entire life to avoid. Dirt. Sleaze. Filth. These things make him happy, and for that reason he is one of my heroes. I love that he has always been his true self, that he loved his misfit friends with an open heart, and that he isn’t afraid to embrace what he honestly loves about life. In one of his books, John recounts what he calls “the greatest moment of my life” in which, sitting on a bus stop in Baltimore, he was hit full in the face by a carton of chinese food that a passing car had thrown out of the window. Amazing.
I finally met John Waters this past weekend at the Aero at a screening of Female Trouble. The place was packed and the audience was eating up the movie with a plastic spoon. He participated in a Q&A afterwards and snarkily answered every question the audience posed. He said that he feels like his films are made for the people who are outsiders within their own minority and talked about how he feels that people are trying too hard to be weird now, that it should be something that naturally comes from inside yourself. I asked if he had a favorite sleazy place to go in Los Angeles, and he said that now that the Spotlight had closed, he did not.