John Waters at Shock Pop

Published on January 11th, 2015

John Waters at Shock Pop


Art by Dave Berns | Hot Damn Arts

It’s easy just to call John Waters a perverted old geezer, but it’s also shamefully reductive. This is a man who abhors escapism so much, he entered into filmmaking to shock people back to reality. That he did it entertainingly and with such humor has gained him a cult following of people from all walks of life.

Though most often considered a filmmaker who has directed 16 movies, including Pink Flamingoes (1972), Hairspray (1988) and A Dirty Shame (2004), Waters has not made a movie in over 10 years, and has no idea when he plans to go back to it, if ever. Speaking via phone from his home in San Francisco, Waters, 68, says he has always been a writer first and foremost. He has written five books, not counting his two collections of film photograph books and two screenplay collections. He’s also recently been exploring art. His specialty is experimenting with distorting photographs of faces, including his own.

On February 14, Waters will appear for one night only at the Shock Pop Comicon in Fort Lauderdale. He will perform his one-man show “This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier,” which he has been performing since 2006. It’s never been the same show, as he has updated it over the years. But you can expect him to talk about his influences, from artistic to his fascination with true crime story. He’s also prone to talk about, exploitation films, crazy fashion and the over-the-top contemporary art world.

He is also there to promote his latest bestselling book Carsick, in which he chronicles his hitchhiking trip across the U.S. from his Baltimore home to his home in San Francisco. You will be able to meet him during a book signing. From our chat with him, he sounds eager to meet you.

You perform on Valentine’s Day at this convention. What do you think of that?

I love it. It’s my Mom’s birthday! I’m for it because you get to eat candy, and I used to give people animal hearts for Valentine’s Day, and the kind of people I date seem to always find it touching.

You are performing at Broward County’s premiere comicon and horror convention. What makes these conventions special for you?

Well, people come from all over the world to see it. I love that I get to meet crazy horror stars and people that were in horror movies that I remember. It’s a different kind of stardom and a different kind of audience. A lot of girls have Betty Page bangs and a lot of tattoos, and a lot of boys have goatees and are kind of blue color. I think it’s a good audience. They’re very open-minded, and I like heavy metal kids and all that.

You’re also there to promote your latest book Carsick. I was just wondering was this a social experiment for you?

It was just an adventure I wanted to have. It wasn’t an experiment… I guess it was. It was really a book deal. I wrote the fictitious parts before I left, and then I did it for real because everyone else was so frightened for me… when I was doing it I wasn’t frightened except I never imagined I’d have to wait 10 hours to get a ride, which happened many times. So that was the bad part about it I didn’t predict. But, yes, it was an adventure. I’m glad that I did it. Not only did I get a book out of it that did very well, I felt pretty proud of myself that I had the nerve to do it because everybody else was saying, “You’re crazy; don’t do this.” It’s an abstract idea until you do it because it’s a book pitch, but I remember the first day, walking out that front door and winding up the street with me little sign, thinking, “Are you crazy? Now I’m actually doing this?”

What is the most surprising thing that you took away from that journey?

I don’t think anything really surprised me because I’ve always believed in the basic goodness of people, and people who pick up hitchhikers believe the same thing, I believe because each person is taking a little bit of chance, the hitchhiker and the person that picks you up. But they’re trying to help you. People thought I was a homeless man. They were not starfuckers… mostly.

I’m sure you’ve seen much of America. You were recently in Miami for the book fair. What makes Miami stand out in your mind?

I like it. You know I’m interested to see what happens with the Cuba thing. How that’s gonna affect it. You know, I had more experience in Key West because Divine used to have a home there, and I used to go visit him there, so I probably have spent more time in Key West than I have in Miami, but I like going to Fort Lauderdale, so yeah, I have fun there. It’s always been a good audience for me, and it’s now such an art place too that’s good because I practice in that world, too. But when I’m on these tours, you know, I get to meet my audience. I definitely do in each city, and that’s great because you get to keep up with who your audience is.

So books and art, but most know you as a filmmaker. It’s been more than 10 years since we’ve seen a movie from you. Any plans at all for directing another one?

Maybe I’ll never make another one. I don’t have any plans because really what I am is a writer. I wrote every movie. I’ve written every book. All my books are still in print. I think them up. I basically write them before I do them. I write my spoken word shows, so everything I do is about writing really. So which way I tell stories? I can do it each way. They’re all equally as important to me.

John Waters will perform “This Filthy World, Filthier and Dirtier” at Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of the Shock Pop Comicon on Feb 14. Tickets:  |  RSVP on Facebook

~ Hans Morgenstern | The Independent Ethos (