AN EVENING WITH JOHN WATERS
7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1 | The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Drive | 407-704-6261 | comeoutwithpride.com | $39-$150
Before doing the “Bug” in the bouffant blowout of Hairspray in the ’80s, director and filmmaker John Waters was challenging gender and taste with a string of cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living and Female Trouble, launching a flamboyant career that he chronicles in his 2006 autobiographical film, This Filthy World. This week Waters kicks off Orlando’s Come Out With Pride festivities with a stand-up performance at the Abbey, which he tells us will be an update of This Filthy World, only “100 percent different.” (Waters also has a book due next year, titled Carsick, which details the raconteur’s recent cross-country hitchhiking sojourn through the hellish middle of America.) We caught up with the man of little mystery on his dismount from summer vacation to discuss films, controversy and the art of being a gay outsider. Oh, and “color fascism.”
Orlando Weekly: I actually read that you usually spend your summers in Provincetown, Mass., so I was surprised you were in Baltimore this week.
John Waters: Oh, Labor Day’s over, summer’s over, you can’t wear white, you can’t be on the beach resort. It’s over.
Oh, we’re in Florida; you can do whatever you want here.
No, you can’t; you can’t wear white in the winter in Florida either. I put all my white clothes away today. It’s more liberal there in Florida for the color fascism. The only time I’m right-wing is on fashion. The white thing – as you know, Patty Hearst got killed for wearing white after Labor Day. I guess my mother drove that into me. I’m really passionate about it: You can’t wear patent leather shoes before Easter, you can’t wear a belt before November. I have a law that says you should never wear a tube-top ever! They’re so unflattering!
I don’t know if you know this, but you and Orlando Weekly actually have something in common: We were both treated very shabbily by Orlando’s Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation. In 1990 Pink Flamingos was apparently banned here because the MBI set up a sting operation and had a 14-year-old girl rent Pink Flamingos from a video store.
You’re kidding! Because, you know, when it came out for the 25th anniversary it was in L.A. in supermarket lines at the checkout counter. It was shown on TV on the Sundance Channel. … They wanted to cut the blowjob scene and the chicken fuck, and I said fine, you can cut it, and they forgot to! And I always wonder what family, when they’re sitting there channel-surfing together and a singing asshole comes on – I don’t know.
I don’t know whether they remember that they did it. It was a long time ago.
I hope I don’t get arrested when I’m there this time.
Well, if you’re in Orlando you really don’t want to be with the establishment; you’d rather be in a little bit of trouble.
Right, well, I’ve always wanted to be in a little bit of trouble, although now I’m sick of being in it. I’d rather be an insider. That’s more perverse.
You’re here for Come Out With Pride, and this is the big year that everyone is talking about gay marriage.
I have a whole thing about gay marriage that I’m going to talk about in my show. I’m certainly for it, but I want to know the new politically correct term for men like myself who can get married now and choose not to. Are we going to be discriminated against? A minority? I think everyone should have the right to be married. I think you should be able to marry a tree, if you want to know the truth. I don’t understand why anyone would ever be threatened by gay marriage, any kind of marriage, because everybody knows how hard it is to find anybody that you can fall in love with. So why would that threaten anyone? I don’t get it.
Did you know that Florida still has a ban on gay marriage?
That doesn’t surprise me; Florida has never been known for their advanced politics in my book. No, that doesn’t surprise me, but it is a losing battle. They will lose eventually. And the government already said that even if you live in a state that doesn’t support it and get married and come back, the tax thing will still work
So when you first started making films, it seems like you were the only person including openly gay content. Do you think there are any filmmakers out there taking the same kinds of risks you were?
I wasn’t the only person; mine were not only gay movies. I mean, first of all, my audience for Pink Flamingos was not only gay. In the beginning, it was Yippies, it was hippies, it was bikers, it was people that became punk later when there was such a thing. Certainly gay people were supportive of me in the beginning, but the kind of gay people that cause trouble, not the gay people that fit in.