Ahead of performances in Melbourne and Sydney, cult cinema director John Waters talked to Sydney Star Observer about America under President Barack Obama, tea-bagging, liberal censorship and witnessing some of the great trials of the 20th century.

Despite some US gay and lesbian activists being unhappy with the pace of reform under the Obama administration, Waters said he’s a proud supporter and is hopeful about the direction America is taking under Obama’s leadership.

“I think he inherited a terrible position — the world hated us, now the whole world has given us a chance again,” Waters said. “That is incredibly important.

“He’s been hit with every possible obstacle. He has to solve the global economic crisis. I think he’s trying a million things and they’re not all going to work.”

And Waters is happily amused that the American Right has adopted a term he helped to popularise with his movie Pecker — tea-bagging.

“It became a big political thing here,” Waters said. “The Republicans who were very much against Obama started to organise these tea party protests, calling themselves ‘tea-baggers’ and the journalists would start laughing at them because they didn’t know what it meant.”

Waters is interested to hear what tea-bagging means Down Under.

“Tea-bagging has different international meanings. In England they mean in your mouth, which makes more sense — like a teabag going in the water.

“In America they mean on your forehead. I don’t know what it means in Australia.”

Waters also told Sydney Star Observer about his longtime hobby of attending criminal trials, which put him in the audience for two of the biggest events of the 20th century — the Manson and Watergate trials.

“What you felt seated in those rooms was the great drama and the great weight — that you were seeing history being made.

“The Manson trial, way before OJ Simpson, was one of the first high profile criminal trials. There were headlines every day about it. It was a media event.

“At the Watergate trial we got to wear earphones and hear Nixon’s voice breaking the law, which was quite a thrill.

“But I don’t do it any more because they recognise me and I’m afraid I’ll hurt the defendant’s chances if the jury hates my movies, plus the press thinks I’m making a movie about it, which I usually never am.”

Going into the second decade of the 21st century, Waters said he is unsure if there are any boundaries left for filmmakers to break.

“I don’t know if there are any because in America, Pink Flamingos shows uncut on basic cable — which astounds me!

“They actually called and asked if they could cut the blow job scene and the chicken scene and I said, ‘Yes’, but they forgot to. I’m trying to imagine families on Thanksgiving coming to the singing anus — I don’t know what they would say around their turkey dinner.”

But Waters said it’s liberal censors he has the most trouble with.

“When Pink Flamingos was still banned in London [it was banned in Australia at one point] the censors said they didn’t know how to deal with intentional bad taste, which is a pretty smart comment compared to the woman in Baltimore who was on the censor board who said, “Don’t tell me about sex, I was married to an Italian’. ”

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