Monday, July 2, 2012
John Waters – the “King” of Queer Cinema – is being honored at Outfest this year with a "Life Achievement Award".
When asked how he felt about the nod, Waters was quick on the uptake.
“Jane Lynch won last year, didn’t she? That’s a tough Queen to top,” he cackled.
The ballsy zany filmmaker is best known for putting the spotlight on off-the-wall characters – such as “Divine” (Pink Flamingos) – who had no qualms scooping up poop and gobbling it down on cue (and shocking theatre-goers in the process).
If anything, Waters is an in-your-face risk-taker - and quite definitely - a naughty-boy extraordinaire.
On occasion, he even draws the ire of the local gay community, you betcha.
For example, when a reporter recently noted that “Desperate Living” was going to screen at Outfest in Los Angeles next week, he recalled the uproar he first faced in Boston when the screening was blocked by a posse of angry dykes.
“How dare he make a film about us,” the lesbians angrily protested, he recalled with glee.
“You know me, I’m so gayly incorrect.”
The pink mafia often gets annoyed with moi when I refer to gay men as “homos” and lesbians as “diesel dykes” ( or lipstick Lesbos).
And, how dare I "out" someone!
Like Waters, I get a kick out of ruffling their feathers, and upsetting their agenda for the LGBT community-at-large.
Waters was born in Baltimore, the son of Patricia Ann (née Whitaker) and John Samuel Waters.
John's father who was a manufacturer of fire-protection equipment.
The filmmaker grew up in the suburb of Lutherville, Maryland. His boyhood friend and collaborator - Glenn Milstead (Divine) - also resided in town.
Even as a kid, Waters was a strange one.
Friends and family recall that he used to stage violent versions of "Punch and Judy" for local birthday parties for kids in the neighborhood.
A biographer - Robert L. Pela - reported that Waters's mother believes the puppets in a show called "Lili" had the greatest influence on Waters's subsequent career as did tacky tasteless
films at the drive-in nearby.
For his sixteenth birthday, Waters received an 8mm movie camera from his maternal grandmother (Stella Whitaker) and there was no looking back.
His first short film was "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket".
Waters has sadly noted that the film was only shown only once in a "beatnik coffee house" in Baltimore, although it was included in his traveling photography exhibit years later.
Probably one of Waters's best-known films is "Polyester" (1981) which starred Divine and former teen hunk Tab Hunter.
Other memorable films that feature his trademark inventiveness include "Hairspray", "Cry-Baby", "Serial Mom", and "Pecker".
Outfest has scheduled a sing-a-long presentation of “Hairspray” (the John Travolta version) and Waters is delighted to hear that.
On the subjects of controversy – and censorship – he is unrelenting.
“I had to see a lot of bush before I could see a man’s ass,” he chortled in a recent interview.
Along the way, Waters found a lot of fodder in the absurdity of it all, too.
“First, you could see a woman’s ass, then her tits, then her vagina (OMG), then men’s ass, then the dick and hardcore."
I expect that the producers of “Shame” were trying awfully hard to mainstream the kind of taboos that Waters tossed into the searing spotlight decades ago.
Currently, Mr. Waters is writing a book titled “Carsick” which he slaves over from a perch in quaint Provincetown daily.
“The cottage is like a Grey Gardens house,” he points out.
Hopefully, he will take some time to stop and smell the roses.
Or, at least check out the hot action in the bushes nearby!