(photos by Mike Danko from one of our previous John Waters live coverages)
When John Waters took the stage at the Howard Theatre last week, half the audience was missing. Due to a mix-up by a stage hand, the filmmaker began his set nearly 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to start.
“Why did you go on so early?” was the first question raised by an audience member during the question-and-answer session that followed Water’s monologue which traced his career, friendships, and views on a wide range of subjects. “I don’t know,” replied Waters. “I usually like to go over my material in my dressing room before a show, and to ensure that I had enough time I stopped and walked upstairs to ask the stage hand to give me a five minute heads up. But, before I knew it, all of a sudden he turned around and I heard ‘Ladies and Gentleman…John Waters!’. Being a professional, I walked out on stage.”
Although half the audience missed the first part of the show, no one seemed to mind. As the crowd continued to fill in, people simply took their seats as if pulling up a chair to listen to John Waters in his own Baltimore living room. The conversation was intimate, and tailored to DC. Waters recalled how both he and Baltimore film star Divine had both performed in drag back at the Howard Theatre in the 1960s. He also shared both of their exploits at various now-defuct gay bars and sex clubs in Washington (most of which now lay underneath the outfield of Nationals Stadium).
Waters expressed nostalgia for the days when simply being gay was seen as transgressive. “It’s not good enough just to be gay anymore. There are too many gay people now,” Waters told the crowd. “Forget coming out. I’m for coming in. Can’t we audition for quality?”
Waters also expressed both admiration for the bear community, as well as some irritation with some of its members. “Straight people have no idea what a bear is,” remarked Waters. “They’re usually larger, a bit hairy, and a bit blue-collar. Pretty much every man in Baltimore is a bear.” Yet, Waters took issue with bears who take themselves too seriously. “Sometimes you hear ‘We have to come out of a second closet,’. No. No, you don’t. Gays, please don’t tell your parents that you’re a bear. They’ve already expressed their support for you and have told you ‘as long as you’re happy, whatever you are is fine.’ Please don’t sit your parents down and say ‘Mom…dad, I have something to tell you. I’m a bear…grrrrrr!’ Please don’t do that.”
Waters also expounded on other items that straight people are largely ignorant about. “Rush gave me a lifetime supply of poppers, which is – unfortunately – already running out. Every year during the Provincetown Film Festival I host a popper party. It’s very under-the-radar and you wouldn’t believe the people we get. Oscar winning directors, actors, journalists and the like. For many, it’s their first time doing poppers. One poor guy drank them one time when a bottle was passed to him. I even had a woman ask me for a bottle of poppers because she wanted to try anal sex with her husband. She later contacted me saying they didn’t work. She had put them up her ass.”
Of course, Waters’ hometown of Baltimore starred in many of his remarks, including how he and Governor Martin O’Malley fight over The Wire. “I love both him and his wife. But, like most politicians, he hates The Wire. I love it. That is a part of what Baltimore is.” He continued “I was once walking down the street in Hampden, and a kid looked up at his dad and asked ‘Why is mommy crying?’ The dad looked down and said ‘Because you’re an asshole,’. That’s so Baltimore.”
While John Waters is known for pushing the envelope, there were things that go just too far even for the King of Filth. A list of these things include:
Adult Babies. “You know, those people who dress up in daipers and cry. I just don’t have time for that.”
Blossoms. “People don’t think this is a thing, but it is. Some guys take vacuums and suck out their assholes and then take pictures and show each other. Go home and Google it, and you’ll see what it is. Then, the next time you have your computer tested you’ll be arrested.”
Sploshers. “These are people who get sexually aroused having sex with food. Granted, we had a chicken in a sex scene in Pink Flamingos but you can’t have a sexual relationship with food. You can’t date rape a cookie. You can’t hate fuck a pie.”
The Filthiest Person Alive. Responding to an audience question asking who Waters considered to be the filthiest person alive, John Waters did not hesitate. “Nancy Grace is the filthiest person alive. I’m not a fan. And she couldn’t dance on that show, either.