Thursday, 13 November 2014

An audience with the Pope of Trash

It was described by the Great Man himself as "a 70 minute monologue about everything from crime, fashion, movie, glamour, mental health and sexual politics." I certainly didn't need much encouragement to book a ticket - the very last one in the very front row, I might add! - for the "Pope of Trash" John Waters' This Filthy World, Vol 2: Filthier and Dirtier one-man show at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday.

The evening was all he promised, and more... Witty, articulate, and famously unorthodox in his take on life and the eccentric foibles of people in general, he captivated the (full to capacity) audience for an hour and a half - barely stopping for breath.

Mr Waters is renowned for outraging critics and narrow minds alike, and he didn't disappoint. Covering such disparate topics as the Hollywood system, 'poppers parties', critical reception of his work, Justin Bieber ["Honestly, I screamed like a girl. But I want to enlist him for a special Christmas edition of 'To Catch a Predator'”], Divine crawling through pig shit, musicals based on sexploitation movies, arson, Lana del Ray, the fantasy concept of mainstream directors doing remakes of classic porn titles [How about David Lean directing I Dream of Weenie, Homo Alone, Schindler’s Fist or My Ass Is Haunted?], rioting or the effects of various illegal drugs - no subject was safe!

Inevitably, he couldn't resist taking the monologue to the filthiest level - he wants to popularise new sexual kinks [“It's 'adult babies' and 'feeders', I have trouble with."] - try Googling “sploshers” and “blossoms” to find out more! I was in fits when he proposed "The Snowman" - "Get a facial. Go outside till it freezes. Come back in covered in white 'ice' and shout 'Merry Christmas'!" Musing on how skimpy the frocks the girls wear on the catwalk are getting:
"Whatever happened to guys showing their baskets like Joe Dallesandro? I think Brad Pitt should be out there in tight pants that show off his balls.”
John Waters has always been a standard-bearer for the rights of "the outsider", gay or any other kind. However, he does challenge the trend in the gay movement towards aping "hetero-norms" (with his tongue firmly in his cheek of course):
“I think we have too many gay people now. I’m all for coming in - it’s about quality not quantity”
Recounting with pride the fact he had been excluded from most schools he attended, he said:
"If you have a kid that’s a rebel in high school, you should be happy, because they might end up in the arts. If they wind up in the arts, they did rebel somehow. They weren’t the football star or the prom queen - whose lives ended the day high school was over, basically. You should suffer a little in high school. I think that’s part of it. It makes you tougher.”
And he is a tough character and an artist - Mr Waters' back catalogue is a cornucopia of trashy delights, including Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, Female Trouble, Polyester, Cry Baby, Serial Mom - and of course his biggest worldwide success Hairspray:
"Did I ever think I would be on stage winning the Tony award for best musical with all the creative people? No! But I’m thrilled about it. Hairspray is the gift that keeps on giving... I just want to keep on until we get to 'Hairspray on Ice'."
Here is the man himself, in an interview by some dim girl from London Live:

Of course, Mr Waters is inspired to create his work from all sources, however unlikely:
“If you read the New York Post every single day, you’d come up with a great exercise for film school - to do those stories every day, with those titles. And, the best title ever, and it’s music-related, was when Ike Turner died. It said: ‘Ike Beats Tina to Death.’”

His latest exploits - he decided to take off across America, hitch-hiking all the way - are documented in his latest tome Carsick. Some of the anecdotes he treated us to were fabulous - but of course, you'd need to read the book to get the full picture [he was signing copies after the event, but I didn't have the energy or the patience to try and get through the hordes to reach him myself]. Talking about the book (from London Live again):

This was an evening of pure unadulterated delight for me (as it was for Joe and Russ, seated in a box above me) - it was over far too soon!


Still basking in the afterglow of the evening, I can't help but think: had he seen (as I in the front row saw) the cockroach that scuttled, somewhat disdainfully, along the edge of the Royal Festival Hall stage from one side to the other during his performance, what would John Waters have done? Give it a name, perhaps? Cast it in his next movie?

Regardless, I think he would have appreciated it.

Any excuse for a clip from Hairspray - do The Bug!

John Waters on Wikipedia


  1. Fab review
    such a shame I missed it

    1. It is a shame. Pre-planning is so difficult for you at the moment... Jx

  2. An interesting post, Jon, spiced with wonderful quotes. Thank you for sharing your fine evening.

    The photograph at the top is excellent; the walls, the pipes and beam in the ceiling, the capture of his character.

    1. As John Stuart Mill (of his own free will) wisely said: "The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time."

      This was a wonderful evening in the company of a true eccentric genius. Jx

  3. Great post! I adore Mr Waters, the This Filthy World DVD had me in stitches! Hope he films this as well.

    1. I was a remarkable evening - and I've never seen that DVD (yet) ... Jx

  4. I highly recommend the DVD - one section in particular was hilarious (and then there is his CD of Christmas selections, which remains a holiday staple in the Galaxy!)

    1. I do, of course, have the Xmas melée - and I adore the fact that Mr W takes the Festering Season as seriously as I do... Jx

  5. How did I miss this? As you know, I was there too and agree with every word! John Water is the "filth elder" / spiritual father of us all.

    1. Indeed!

      And Edie our spiritual mother... Jx

  6. Great post! As always.

    John Waters is GOD.

    1. Judging by his encounter with Little Richard, I think he might baulk at the comparison... Jx


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