The passions of John Waters

I got sucked into Waters’ work and manifesto at the age of seventeen, and in his books Shock Value and Crackpot I first learned all the infamous anecdotes devoured by other Waters fans long before me, including the one Waters himself now is cheerfully weary of telling years later (you know the one), but which new generations of fans love him for as soon as they discover his world. He still tells it though, because he is just that gracious, along with all the other great stories about how Divine escaped arrest in a gold lamé toreador outfit, about Edith Massey’s thrift store, Elizabeth Coffey’s mid-gender-reassignment nude scene and the burning of the Pink Flamingos trailer. Oh, and how Divine ate dog feces on film under Waters’ direction (that’s the one!); something Waters says he could never live up to and Divine could never live down.

But you already know all those stories. The behind the scenes DIY-ness and mania of the 1970s and 80s Waters-filmmaking-family has been meticulously chronicled, re-chronicled, poured-over and revered. Nothing about those crazy, intoxicating, renegade years was left out. Except one thing—one noticeable, unshared topic-hole in the works written by and about the filmmaker.

John Waters never spoke much about his personal life.

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