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netribution > features > interview with john waters > page two


I've never met a woman that hasn't liked your films and when asked why they say that portray all physical differences as normal.
The fat girl wins in my movies, she never does it real life. I get along with women, a lot of my crews are women but the people that don't win in real life win in my movies. There are no losers in a John Waters movie. Everybody learns to accept their neuroses and not let them screw them up again, that's all you can hope for in mental health really. I think my films are joyous, I don't make fun of things I hate, I look up to everything. Ricki Lake still says to me, "I lost all this weight," but I don't care - I mean I'm happy for your health. I started out by making stars out of a person from a system that had every possible thing in it that told you that you couldn't be one. Have a man be a woman, a man that weighed 250 pounds that dressed like Jane Mansfield, have a drag queen that other drag queens hated for making fun of it. He would put fake scars on his face and carry a chainsaw but who finally ended up playing an overweight, blue-collar mother. The opposite of any drag queen's aspiration.

Is there still room for a Hatchet Face in a John Waters film?
Well Hatchet Face wasn't found on the street, its Edith Massey you are talking about. Is there room for an Edith Massey? Maybe not, Edith was a complete original, maybe if I found that person again but I wouldn't go looking for them. Once I do something that seems to work I don't want to do a piss poor imitation of it when the original person is no longer there. That's repeating myself and even though Alfred Hitchcock said that repeating yourself is what style is, if you don't change something you won't continue working. You have to keep getting a young audience, that's what people want more than money, more than a face lift! (laughter)

Do you not find a point when you are writing where you feel that Divine or Edith would have been fantastic in this?
No. Some people may call me a cult director but I can't raise the dead. Lazarus I'm, not! (laughter)

The terrorists in the film all have tattoos of filmmakers. Are those filmmakers that you respect?
Certainly. Directors that became famous for being directors, that had a persona of their own. I'm not a great fan of Otto Preminger's movies but you can picture him with that bald head being mean. I thought it would be a scary tattoo to have because actors hated him. It would make life simpler if people had tattoos of their favourite directors.

What would yours be?
Well you must know that that has been asked a lot so I try to keep changing the answers. If it was this week, it would be Jean Eustache, the director of The Mother an the Whore, or Kroger Babb. He was the real exploitation king of the 40's and made Mom & Dad that showed the birth of a baby because it was the only way he could show full frontal female nudity. Men went to look at the vagina and not the baby, really creepy stuff. He made the first midnight movie I ever saw, it was called She Should Have Said No, my favourite ever title!

Why did you do The Simpsons?
Because Elizabeth Taylor did it. (laughter) I did it because I always wanted to be an animated TV character, I wanted to be a Disney character as a kid - Captain Hook or the stepmother in Cinderella. Whenever the stepmother walked into the room there was this jingle (mimics it) so I used to pretend it when I walked around as a child. I did a radio show years later and when I walked in the DJ did it - really freaked me out!

Have you ever thought of doing an animated film?
I'm in the middle of something that's highly developed as we speak but which I can't talk about. I don't want to curse it, let's see what happens. I did once pitch Pink Flamingos as a children's gross out show, and it could still be. Children always liked Divine and we used to do lectures together - with him in drag - and he hated doing it. We'd be in the middle of a suburban dinner, we'd come in and the children would just scream! (much laughter) The liveried parents would say, "Billy, I want you to sit right down now" and Divine would whisper, "Get me the fuck out of here!" He would refuse to go after a while.

As your career's developed, people are starting to say that you've sold out again.
They said that with Female Trouble. They're always going to say that. Stephen Dorff and Melanie Griffith don't eat shit, if they did eat shit I wouldn't be here today. I always wanted to sell out but no one would buy me.

What is that like to hear from someone?
They've always said it. The only time it gets on my nerves is with revisionist thinking, the people my age pretended they helped Pink Flamingos, they didn't - they hated that film when it came out. There are critics who have said that and they forget, I remember. It had no critical support when it came out apart from Fran Liebowitz in Interview Magazine. It's frustrating - no it's not, my only competition is my past. Every other director has to compete with the new movies that come out, I have to compete with the movies I made 20 years ago. I know that Pink Flamingos will be in the first sentence of my obituary no matter what I do, that's OK. I'll wear my imperial crown of filth with pride!

I remember nearly breaking my back looking for Female Trouble after my Mum hid it from me.
Mine never saw Female Trouble but then had to when the Baltimore Museum of Art gave me this really fancy black tie retrospective. Afterwards she really surprised me, she said, "The one who plays Gator, is that the kind of man you find attractive?" (laughter) I lied and said no. (more laughter) What I hate the most is when she sees any of my films - they look very Republican - the audience turn around to look at her when something hideous happens. Her shock has to be witnessed and its embarrassing!

You are a big fan of David Lynch. As his career's developed, what do you think of the things he's done?
I would never give any advice to a great auteur like David Lynch. My favourite is Fire Walk With Me, I love it when they say the title of the film in the film and in Fire walk With Me they say it 20 or 30 times -it sends me wild! I liked The Straight Story, it was a good shock and it works to do the opposite of what people expect of you.

What's the best film you've seen this year?
Dancer in the Dark, it was the most extreme movie of the year, I love Bjork and Catherine Deneuve and I'm a sucker for death row. I'm not a fan of all his movies but I did like The Idiots but it was a really old fashioned, what they used to call, art movie. The other one called Water Falling on Burning Rock or something like that. It’s about a couple who are kidnapped by a gay cannibalistic ogre (laughter), it's like a reworking of Hansel & Gretal only she's a teenage vixen with a taste for murder and they get kidnapped by an ogre while they dump the body in the woods. He keeps them in a pit under his house and tortures them until he's fucked the guy - it's really good! (more laughter) Well, if you are into bears…. (laughter) I guess to some he might be cute! There's somebody cute for everybody. There's cubs which are young ones that are fat and hairy but then there are otters which are teenagers that will be fat and hairy but aren't yet. (laughter) But then I gave a lecture and someone said, "you're wrong, otters are bears that aren't hairy, its not about age." It's so confusing!Do you get adult babies over here? Adult babies in diapers and with hard-on's on scooters and I saw a brochure which was selling bouncy chairs for 350 pound men! (laughter) I don't want to know this, these people need arresting! No they don't really but it is my limit, thank God I'm not an adult baby, life's hard enough - if I had to leave here and go upstairs to put on my diaper, they must have it rough! (laughter).

I know the Furries - the ones that love plush toys.
I think that started with the art trend (laughs loud). I saw something at the porno convention recently, there is a whole sub genre that gets off on surveillance camera porno. Like that bored night watchman fucking a cardboard box! (uproarious laughter) I asked them how they get away with it and they told me that they sign releases. They sign releases! (incredulous) That's the most fucked up of all. "Oh OK, do I get a cut?" (laughter)

What do you think of Marilyn Manson?
I like him, he called me once and was very nice.

Who's going to win the election?
I'm going for Gore but its going to be scary.

Now we are starting to get the whole drink driving thing coming out.
I know but I've been arrested for drink driving but no one will decide not to see my movie because I haven't revealed my entire criminal record.

If someone reading this wants to be a filmmaker, what should they do?
Go out and make it. Get a camera and make it on whatever budget they have, whoever's the richest person you know - even if you live in a leper colony, be nice to that person! (laughter) Never alienate your relatives but never borrow money if you are not sure you can pay them back because you won't. Put sex and violence in it in a new way, appeal to your generation.

What do you think of the new 'violence' directors?
They are great. Tarantino deserves every bit of success he gets, he's the most imitated director there is and I like him.

Is he a good friend?
Well I wouldn't call him up if I was breaking up with someone! (laughter)


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