In this week’s episode of The Close-Up, the Film Society’s new weekly Podcast series, filmmaker, author, and “Pope of Trash” John Waters discusses his career in an interview with the Film Society’s Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez, as well as in conversation with film critic J. Hoberman following a screening of Pink Flamingos.
Waters’s filmography (of “poor taste”) was recently showcased in the Film Society’s Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take? retrospective, which featured all of the filmmaker's work, including rare prints of his early films directly from Waters’s own attic.
John Waters and his fellow Dreamlanders crew made a career out of blurring the line between high and low culture, which started from shooting 8mm films with high-school buddies and eventually led him to enter the Hollywood system to direct such hits as Hairspray and Cry-Baby. “Pink Flamingos will be in the first paragraph of my obituary, no matter what else. I always say if I discover the cure of cancer tomorrow, Pink Flamingos will come ahead of that,” says Waters.
“Each one of my movies is a genre. I mean, Pink Flamingos was a midnight movie, Female Trouble was a crime biography, Hairspray a dance movie, Cry-Baby a musical, Serial Mom a true-crime one, A Dirty Shame a sexplitation movie.”
In both of this episode’s discussions, Waters talks about his early influences (from Fellini and Buñuel to Russ Meyer) and his accounts of how he began his career as a young boy from Baltimore. “I think Bergman is the one because he had vomit before anyone. He’s the puke king. He always had vomit in his movies and I love Bergman. I took Divine [to see his films], he hated them. ‘Can’t we see an Elizabeth Taylor movie?’ I would take Divine on LSD to see Bergman movies. We saw Hour of the Wolf on acid together.”
Download and subscribe to The Close-Up to hear Waters’s many stories about Divine and the Dreamlanders crew, his inspirations, and more:
“A motto I tell all young filmmakers is ‘a no is free,’” states Waters. “Show business is rejection, just keep asking for what you want. It doesn’t cost you anything if people say no. One day, somebody will say yes.”
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