John Waters finds a new way to spread his filth – fiction. : NPR


Director and author John Waters at his home in Baltimore. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his historical film, pink flamingos He publishes his first novel, Lyrmouth: a lively love story.

Jared Soares for NPR


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Director and author John Waters at his home in Baltimore. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his historical film, pink flamingos He publishes his first novel, Lyrmouth: a lively love story.

Jared Soares for NPR

You tell people you’re going to John Waters’ house in Baltimore to interview him and all of a sudden people fall over themselves to be like, “Oh, you He should Tell me what his house looks like.”

Certainly, if you know his business, it is reasonable to assume that the man has all kinds of loyalty to the ugly and dirty thoughts about his house. Which he does…meaning his house (or at least his living room) was full of books. Art books, history books, and novels are all stacked in shelves or stacked precariously on top of any flat surface. The man behind the phrase, “If you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t do it,” isn’t really going to find himself on the wrong end of this situation.


Lyrmouth: A Vibrant Love Story.
Lyrmouth: A Vibrant Love Story.

So he said, Error It is Waters’ specialty. It’s present in all of his work, from his early short films dealing with the assassination of the KKK and JFK, to the 50-year-old historical film. pink flamingosfor his last project – his first novel, Lyrmouth: a lively love story.

The book is based on an idea that was nodding his head a little. At first, he thought it would be a movie, but he’s made movies before. He also wrote books, but they were memoirs or journalism works.

“I just wanted to try something I didn’t,” Waters said. “Same reason I took LSD when I was 70. Same reason I wandered across America when I was 66. Why not try writing your first novel in my mid 70’s? I want to keep trying new things.” challenge yourself. ”

reading larmouthSometimes, you feel like you’re going into a delirium (which means it’s like watching a John Waters movie). One character will do something terrible and the other will do it over and over until people jump up and down on trampolines, trying to kill each other, have sex with strangers and bark like dogs.

At the center of it all is Marsha Sprinkle, a woman who makes her living stealing bags from the airport. Marsha is tense – anal, one might say. She hates bodily functions of all kinds – from bathroom essentials to bedroom items. Her partner, Daryl, earns an unusual salary: He can have sex with Marsha once a year, “which is the day, but she doesn’t pay him,” Waters said.

Marsha and Daryl live in a forbidden empty muffler in Baltimore, unadorned with any art, so Marsha doesn’t feel overpowered. It’s all pretty chaste, until an accident happens and Marsha goes on the run and meets characters like Bobby, her trampoline-addicted daughter; Richard, Rod Talking Daryl; Adora, Marsha’s pet-loving mother; and an assortment of relatively innocent bystanders whose lives have been affected in horrific ways. It’s… very John Waters.

The idea of ​​a “sensitive reader” makes Waters moan. But he sent his book to anyone anyway.

It all remains undiluted, if, for some reason, you are concerned that culture war debates about wrongdoing have reached the “dirty sheikh”. But while he does deal with terms like “trigger warning” or “allergy reader,” he hasn’t quite closed in on the idea. In fact, he said he sent larmouth for one.


pink flamingos movie poster.

LMPC via Getty Images


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LMPC via Getty Images


pink flamingos movie poster.

LMPC via Getty Images

imagine that! John Waters! He sends his first novel to a sensitive reader! But whether that’s showing growth, or Waters selling, or whether the whole thing is just part of a Carnival marketing routine, we’ll never know. He says the allergy reader never contacted him again.

This does not mean that Waters is immune to or indifferent to today’s social norms. There is an art and grace in not being tasteless that requires a certain amount of sensitivity. For example, two innocent bystanders left in their wake by Marsha and the crew larmouth They were originally an Asian couple. But then, during the liberalization process, violence against Asians in America was in the news. So he changed the couple to Italian-American. “You can’t ignore that,” he said, of being attuned to what he called people’s “sensitivity” to race. So, instead, embrace it, to the point of irony, making sure everyone is included in the book. Marsha even says, her victims very diverse” He said.

There is joy in Waters’ writings. You can imagine him grinning as he presses certain buttons, daring the audience to come for a ride. This spirit was present in all of his work, but especially in the career-defining 1972 film pink flamingos. The film stars the late drag queen Divine as she tries to prove herself as the dirtiest woman alive. Her main rivalry is a married couple living in Tony’s relatively home in Baltimore, where they chain women in the basement.

The movie is perhaps best known for the scene where a Divine eats dog feces, but don’t let that moment overshadow some of the other wild things going on – genitals are mutilated, chickens engage in sex with people (and are then eaten), and incest is a bonus to good job. “It’s still working,” Waters said, even 50 years later. “It’s still kind of annoying and confusing and almost scary. But it’s happy, I think, in the long run.”


Waters continues to challenge himself with new creative endeavors. He said, “Why don’t you try writing your first novel in your mid-seventies?” “I want to keep trying new things. challenge yourself. ”

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Waters continues to challenge himself with new creative endeavors. He said, “Why don’t you try writing your first novel in your mid-seventies?” “I want to keep trying new things. challenge yourself. “

Jared Soares for NPR

Perhaps this sense of joy is what drove so many of his works to become cult hits (or even popular hits; he wrote and directed the movie). hairspraywho became a popular Broadway musician).

So that might not be surprising pink flamingos It became a staple of American cinema. In June, The Criterion Collection will celebrate the film’s anniversary with a reissue and all the bells and whistles it usually entails, including an essay tribute to film critic Howard Hampton. He said in an interview pink flamingos He had a lotto word for our present moment, particularly in the way the film balanced its intensity and empathy.

“John Waters’ secret throughout his career has been that there is no spirituality in his films,” Hampton said. “He embraces his characters, he loves their mental illness. He takes pleasure in it, and he enjoys it. But at the end of the day, there’s a great feeling in these people.”

At this point, Waters is used to it pink flamingos Get praise from a non-eccentric. I entered the Library of Congress last year pink flamingos In the National Film Registry – along with films such as Long goodbye, wal-eAnd The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings. It’s the way it goes – the counterculture just becomes culture. And don’t bother Waters that. In fact, he thinks it’s a good thing. He said, “It gives all the young people faith that you can think of the most terrible things. I haven’t changed.” “It’s just accepting that me has changed and the people in power in the room where this is happening are all crazy right now, of my generation, this has continued.”