Godfather of filth John Waters returns to our shores in October for his first national tour, stopping off in six cities. He’ll treat Melbourne audiences to an encore performance of his one-man show This Filthy World; while in Sydney he’ll curate and appear at a weekend-long film festival dedicated to some of his cinematic favourites and follies.
Most of all, though, Waters told the Star Observer he was looking forward to exploring other parts of the country he’d never got a chance to see during previous visits. Waters famously claims be a hitchhiker – an activity you’d hardly expect of a reed-thin, openly gay 65-year-old.
“I do still hitchhike – it’s a great way to meet people, and to have sex. I’ve hitchhiked in Baltimore, Provincetown, San Francisco … what, people don’t hitchhike in Australia?”
No, too many people got murdered.
“Well that happened here too. It didn’t deter me. Maybe I’ll do it in Australia!”
Waters spoke to us from his summer home in Provincetown, where “it’s Bear Week. I joke that I’m a polar otter. I walked past a beauty salon offering waxes this morning; the poor things may as well just shut up shop for the week!” he cackled.
He was in fine form, peppering the conversations with musings about his latest obsessions: everything from the recent implosion of News of the World (“I love that [Rupert Murdoch] just shut down News of the World – like that was his plan. Great plan, Murdoch!”) to the final few episodes of The Oprah Show (“Did you see her, in a stadium like it was a religious service? I thought she was going to levitate by the end. Hopefully now she’s on OWN she can concentrate on healing the sick,”) to his opinions of same-sex marriage.
“I’m certainly not against it, I just don’t think it’s the most important thing in the world right now. I wouldn’t vote for someone who was against it … although if they were against gay marriage but would stop the Iraq war tomorrow, I would vote for them.
“I know that’s gonna piss off some gays out there, but that’s OK – most gays have never agreed with me.”
He also revealed some of the more unexpected offers he’s been fielding from Hollywood of late.
“I’ve been asked to do Dancing With the Stars a couple of times but I turned them down. Could you imagine? What would I do? The Twist, the Mashed Potato? I don’t think they want me doing my Hairspray dances. Also, my mother said if I did it, she’d disown me – of all the things I’d done, that would be the one!”
Speaking of Hairspray, the stage musical will be in the umpteenth month of its wildly successful Australian run while Waters is in the country. Waters seemed circumspect when asked about its impact on pop culture.
“It’s so funny, all the freaks and outsiders are now the insiders. They’re who everybody wants to be now – the fat kid, the black kid, the gay kid. We’re in a culture now where everyone considers themselves to be the outsider,” he sighed.
Waters is hoping genuine outsiders flock to his Australian appearances: he’s described his acclaimed This Filthy World show as “a self-help group for people who don’t need self-help. It’s to try to make you feel good about being nuts,” while his three-day Sydney movie marathon is dubbed ‘Double Features From Hell’ and features a diverse line-up of eight films that should appeal to those with a taste for the bizarre.
“It’ll be a great place to pick up, although you might not be in the mood for sex if you’ve just seen Irreversible and Antichrist. Although the most disturbing thing I ever heard about was one guy getting caught jacking off in the cinema to [Gaspar Noe’s 2002 rape revenge film] Irreversible. Now THAT’S disturbing.”
As expected, the salacious selections on the bill are the ones Waters is most excited about introducing to audiences.
“There’s a film about a man who falls in love with a horse, another about a woman who gets raped on her way to work every day of her life – she never thought to take another route to work? And one about a woman who’s a nymphomaniac, which I think is such an anti-feminist myth. Nymphomaniacs don’t exist, they were invented by men.”
Waters will also show his most recent film, 2004’s hilarious A Dirty Shame. He explained that his retirement from filmmaking since then has been anything but voluntary.
“I had one ready to go, Fruit Cake, and then the funding dropped out. Of course everyone’s always on the hunt for an edgy new movie that’s been made for $20,000 – but I don’t want to do those movies any more, I’ve done them.”
INFO: Double Features From Hell, Sydney Opera House, October 21-23 and This Filthy World, October 29, Melbourne Recital Centre.