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Dirty Boy! O, the things I've learned from John Waters
THL celebrates John Waters' visit to Miami

john waters thl

“What’s the matter, Cry-Baby?”
“Everything’s the matter.”
“It’s just a thunderstorm. Heat lightning, it’s sexy.”

I love Cry-Baby. I mean, maybe I just love looking at Johnny Depp (Floridian), but I also just love the awkward absurdity of the characters and dialogue, high schooler Pepper’s five-year old looking kids, Cry-Baby’s single sticky looking tear. I also love that I found a line in the movie where Allison says that heat lightning is sexy.

I was introduced to John Waters at a very young age, but my mom will tell you the history of that by the end of this week. Hairspray is one of those movies where, even if it’s like 2 a.m. and I have to be at work at 7 a.m. and I see it’s on TV, I am completely, physically unable to drag my eyes away from the screen. I will, and have, stayed up all night watching Tracy Turnblad turn it out.

When I was living in New York, I saw that John Waters was introducing a Marguerite Duras movie, Le camion at Lincoln Center and I knew in my soul that I had to be there. John Waters introducing the author of The Lover?! If there’s anyone filthier than Waters, no, wait, there is definitely someone way filthier than Waters, it’s Marguerite Duras. She’s the literary world’s filthiest slut, after Anais Nin. I thought, “this makes sense!” Oh, and it was so exciting to hear the director speak, I can’t remember anything he said, but I was nervous and trying to take pictures in the darkness without a flash. The movie outdid itself. It was like being heavily bludgeoned by a pillow of boredom. Duras was old bag, blabbing with Gerard Depardieu and there were endless scenes of trucks driving through the rain in nowheresville France. Where was teenage experimentation? Where were the handsome Indochines? It was memorable in the way a pap smear is memorable.

Later that year, I received an email that they needed audience members for the filming of This Filthy World and you know I went. The thing was that they told us we had to be locked in and couldn’t leave our seats until the filming ended. As a serious claustrophobe, this sounded like something I would endure for only the most special of occasions. I (wo)manned up, and sat in my seat until I peed, from laughter, of course, the whole time not trying to look too ugly, lest I end up in a closeup in the film.

The first time I remember being driven around Baltimore, my dad described it as, “John Waters,” and it is. I already knew Baltimore before I’d even been there.

Waters’ loyalty to his hometown is something that wholly speaks to me. I write a lot about Miami because it is such a special place to me, and also because I know it is such a strange place to everyone else. The people here, the way that we all talk, how great would it be for someone to capture Miami the way Waters defines Baltimore? All you have to do is watch Divine eat dog doo (or talk to my cousin Farrah for a minute) and you know why Maryland is such a special place. It’s like how I just watched Uncle Luke sing “It’s Your Birthday” and my heart grew warm with hometown love. Finding the greatness where you’re at, when you’re there, that’s something deeply spiritual.

There are so many things I want to say about this man, but I know you’ll never read it all. I could talk about how much I love that he loves Holy Anorexia, that Edith Massey as The Egg Lady makes me sick because I don’t really like eggs, that everyone I share A Date with John Waters with becomes hypnotized by it.

What I have learned from John Waters is how to love and accept who you meet and who you know. By love, I don’t mean like. I don’t like most of you guys, but I love you. I love you because I don’t care if you are the grossest, most perverted weirdo who wants to fuck a chicken, I accept you as you are. I guess I could credit other aspects of my upbringing for this gift, I could say, you know, Jesus taught me love, which, sure, but John Waters showed it to me. He handles his subjects, whether they be Baltimore or Ricki Lake, with humor and respect and I strive for that. He’s always delivering a message of acceptance in a way that allows for the use of words like dyke or shit-kicker, and that makes sense.

John Waters, you are not only my hero, but a hero to my family and friends, and I want to welcome you to Miami the only way I know how, by writing a really long blog post and hosting a week in your honor.

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Comment

Oh man, I forgot you were at the “This Filthy World” taping. Why wasn’t I there?? I could watch that endlessly.

I agree, the best thing about John Waters is his acceptance/appreciation of all kinds. He gets it – you’re not laughing at, you’re laughing with. That is so difficult to achieve, and pretty much everyone else misses the mark (which Todd Solondz points out in the “American Scooby” fake doc in his movie Storytelling – a totally underappreciated movie in my opinion, at least the non-fiction half). You really do see people in a new light afterwards.

— Emily Sue · Nov 16, 10:31 AM · #

Bravo.

Aaron Curtis · Nov 18, 06:35 AM · #

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