John Waters

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John Waters
John Waters© Greg Gorman

Prestigious filmmaker John Waters is feted for his cult film Desperate Living in 1977 – in which he cast real-life convicted criminals and porn stars – and Hairspray in 1988. Here he answers the AnOther Proust Questionnaire

Prestigious filmmaker John Waters is feted for his cult film Desperate Living in 1977 – in which he cast real-life convicted criminals and porn stars – and Hairspray in 1988, which has more recently been adapted to the long-running hit Broadway musical. Waters is also well known for his roles as actor, stand-up comedian, artist, art collector, journalist and writer – in the latest issue of Another Man Waters takes Ben Cobb on a fascinating alphabetical trip through his current obsessions.

With an incredible sense of humour as evidenced through his comedic performances and conceptual art pieces – Hardy Har is a photograph of flowers thats squirts passers by – here Waters shares his funny side with us as he answers The AnOther Proust Questionnaire.

What are you thinking of right now?
The homework of publicity.

What makes you laugh?
Wit, and even more so – accidental wit. 

What makes you cry?
The fact that there is obviously no such thing as karma-look at the assholes in your life who walk the earth in good health and then think of your amazingly great friends who are dead.

What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
Eyebrow pencil.

Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
My book Role Models mentions all of them! Sorry, I’m a travelling salesman by trade.

Where do you feel most at home?
In un-ironic Baltimore.

Where are you right now?
In my beautiful apartment in San Francisco reading an hilariously grumpy book, My Prizes: An Accounting by Thomas Bernhard.

What is your proudest achievement in work?
I guess that my films can’t be stomped out over least not yet.

What is your proudest achievement in life?
Many friendships that have lasted thirty to forty years.

What do you most dislike about contemporary culture?
Reality shows made for the lowest common denominator of viewers so even they can feel superior to somebody.

What do you most like about the age we live in?
Free porn online.

At what points do life and work intersect?
I’m lucky-almost always for me. Even if I go to a monster redneck bar on a Friday night, I’m looking for material that I can turn into comedy.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Don’t be afraid to ask. A “no” is free.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Without knowing it, smoking cigarettes.

Recommend a book or poem that has changed your perspective on life?
Again, I pick my favourite five books in Role Models but if I had to pick just one of those it would be In Youth Is Pleasure by Denton Welch. Let’s hope all children’s neurotic fantasies can be as pleasurable as his were to the reader. And hopefully to this weird little author himself.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
Being in my crib and listening to the radio soap opera Helen Trent with my Mom.

What’s the most important relationship in your life?
Friends who give me intimacy without romantic drama.

What’s the most romantic action you’ve taken?
Well, I once gave a boyfriend a raw chicken heart gift wrapped for Valentine’s Day. He was the type of guy who actually liked the idea.

What’s the most spiritual action you’ve taken?
A general day-to-day believe in the basic goodness of people.

If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
An end to all wars based on religion.