Regarding John Waters

Regarding John Waters

 GRIMES: Tho’ I certainly like a lot of the notorious Pink Flamingos (1972) — its overall crazed concept & fetching design, the invertedly contrasting Bozo color harmonies of Mink Stole and David Lochary;  (cl)-ass-ic lines: “Someone has mailed me a BOWEL Movement!”, [actually his own]; Babs’s righteous anger over her claim to dubious fame; the unused, disk add-on of the skipping threesome reciting pig Latin; and especially, Mary Vivian Pearce’s sweet, childlike call-to-murder, “Rivers of Gore! Rivers of Gore!”. I find myself saying these things.

Mary Vivan Pearce  red beret  front


I used to tell my mom she was the Egg Lady. She was a big fan of Waters, too. We always caught his TV appearances and interviews.

Pink   edith  egg lady


But, excepting the original Hairspray (1988) as her entry into his films, our favorite was Polyester (1981), which we saw all the way throo numerous times.

Polyester  foot

Her faverit scenes were when ‘Francine’ first sees Tab Hunter’s character leaning on his car, and later when, at the art film party, coming out of the room having snorted cocaine— “I got a date with an ANGEL!”

Polyester Michael Watson as Freddy Ashton

And we especially loved when ‘Freddy’ comes to pickup ‘Lulu’—“I believe I have a date with her, Bobo..”, then fleeing in a Buick Skylark, the car we used to have for decades. And ‘Cuddles’, (Edith Massey’s) cheerfulness. I love when she tries to hide behind the way-too-skinny tree. “Heinz! Heinz! Oh,… hurry, Heinz.”

Polyester picnic

Other moments I always wait for and treasure, never failing to crack up at them—Francine: “Elmerrr, dinnerr!”…Elmer: “I’m in here  WAIT-in’ for it!!”, and shortly, “Choose your words with care and I won’t get riled!”.

When she begins praying beside the bed, Elmer, tugging off his thin socks while lying down, huffs with incredulity, “What the Hell are YOU doin’?… I’ve got a NUN for a wife!”.

Polyester   Mink w 'Elmer'

He also drives around and around on their street block, a speaker horn mounted on the roof, calling out, for all the neighbors to hear, “She is the HAIRIEST woman I have ever seen..”, and, “She can eat an ENTIRE CAKE in one sitting.”

I ‘can’t’ see how anyone could not laugh at this film, and see that it is an almost exact example of how people really behave.


My other favorite, (many early ones have yet to appear on TV except as clips), is the once impossible-to-see, now frequently shown, (on Sundance), Female Trouble (1974).

It is fraught with costume changes, (enough & suitable for a paper doll set– beige & plaid standard-for-the-day school ‘drabs’, lavender ‘Liz’ outfit, pubically see-throo wedding gown, aquamarine leopard print , blue prison ‘sack’), as ‘Dawn Davenport’ hurtles throo the years of her bizarre life, from surly teen chomping on a submarine sandwich in class, pushing over the Xmas tree and being raped by himself, (in another role), through marriage to her hairdresser, modeling ‘career’ and facially-mutilated fame as a murderess on the way down Death Row. “Pretty, Pretty?”.

Divine  Female Trouble (1974)Divine  purple outfit  Female TroubleFemale Trouble  execution on TV

Divine’s trademark rasp and ‘daughter Taffy’, both shrieking snot-nose child actor as well as Mink Stole’s pugnacious brat, can wear a bit on the nerves. But, it’s all funny.

Female Trouble  Mink Stole as 'Taffy'

Actually, it’s the first Waters film I saw trace of, at the Kubert school in a fanzine, a line portrait of Divine with more-than-fair hints of acid-burned, Mohawk glory!?!

Later, there was the Danny Peary Cult Movies book checked out of the Dover, New Jersey  library. And sighting of small poster, in New York,  for the then recent Desperate Living (1977), (which I still have not seen).


Speaking of books, I highly recommend the 2004 compilation, JOHN WATERS— Change of Life, full of his museum show, photo series, many taken from film sequences and combined with pointed paralleling shots from other sources.

Lana (Turner) Backwards, series of shots of her back from various movies. Don Knotts shots transitioning into Waters on a talk show set. Series of other celebrities, including Dean Martin and Margaret Hamilton, wearing cutouts of Farrah Fawcett’s hair.

And, for a local art club, blue-ribbon award for best title, the series, (tucked behind red, velvet curtains), Twelve Assholes and a Dirty Foot.

Also included from his shows, oddities from his collection of paperbacks, tabloid covers and peculiar package remnants.

Don’t fail to catch his sometimes appalling, but hilarious anecdotal ‘stand up’ special on cable in recent years. Parts of it are, unfortunately, unforgettable. — Rick Grimes (April 27, 2009).

<Grimey Recommendations

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