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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Trash and Vaudeville: Waters brings trash, laughs

Photo by Lizza Vachon ()
Photo by Lizza Vachon ()

Greensboro just got a whole lot trashier, thanks to a one-man show starring the king of trash cinema, John Waters.

The event, which took place Sept. 22 at Greene Street’s Carolina Theatre, featured 61-year-old Baltimore native John Waters.

Waters is a notorious filmmaker. He is the director behind cult classics such as “Pink Flamingo” and “Polyester,” but Waters is also behind the family classic and third highest grossing box office musical, “Hairspray.” Waters has said of his films, “I’ve made trash one percent more respectable.”

Like in his movies, Waters unabashedly talked about many things at the show. No one and nothing was safe from his mind.
Waters took on politics, celebrity, education, drugs, cinema and art with a flair that pushed limits and left the audience in stitches while simultaneously taking in his eccentric ideas and lessons.

Many of his lessons revolved around sex, and were received with laughter by the audience. He encouraged that people try to keep some level of taste when choosing a partner. “If you go home with someone from a bar and they don’t have any books, don’t f— them,” said Waters.

The evening’s lessons also included current events. Waters picked serious subjects, but always added an anecdotal spin. Topics he focused on included gay rights and the death penalty.

“I’m gayly incorrect,” said Waters. “When I came out it was wonderful, I didn’t have to get married or have kids. Today everyone’s just straight-gay, they want to get married and have kids, but if that’s what they want to do.”

He then discussed the death penalty.
What would John Waters eat for his last meal on death row? He’d have “a single leaf of an Arugula.” But, Waters began to wonder, if there is a last meal, why not a last outfit? Designers could bid for you to wear their clothes as you walk down death row. And why not just pick your executioner from a magazine?

Finally, Waters concluded, “why not just have everyone naked and jerking-off to show how sick the death penalty really is?”

Waters’ jokes had everyone in the audience peeling with laughter. He was wry, sarcastic, irreverent and raunchy, much like the themes and tones of his movies, which eventually became the main point of the discussion. During the show, Waters fondly recalled his movies, from his first 8mm film, “Hag in a Black Leather Coat,” to “Crybaby.”

He shared stories about the filming process and fondly recalled his actors, many of whom were friends he’d known from growing up around Baltimore, people like Edith Massey, Mink Stole, and, of course, Divine.

“Even Divine had limits,” said Waters of his friend, the now deceased Drag Queen. “When he met Richard Simmons, he said he felt a little bit homophobic.”

Waters not only discussed his own films, but also his major influences: the underground movies of the 1950s and 1960s. These films, Waters said, were crafted with an artfulness and a showmanship that modern cinema lacks.

The evening concluded with a Q-and-A session, during which Waters encouraged young filmmakers.

“People are actively looking for (underground filmmakers). The next big underground movement is going to be online,” said Waters.

After the show, fans waited in a line that filled the lobby and wound its way into the street to get Waters’ autograph; a rather unsurprising sight given the audience response to his show.

Junior Seth Congdon went to the show and loved it. “It was amazing,” said Congdon. “I was impressed by how laid-back he was. It was like he was joking with us.”

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