John Waters describes some of the highlights of his presentation scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, October 29, at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487): "I give advice to young people about how to be juvenile delinquents, about how we can bring showmanship back into movie exhibition, about how to make movies and how to get them shown. I certainly talk about all my films, how they were made from the beginning when I had no idea what I was doing. I talk about crime, fashion, sex, porno, everything that's interesting and that obsesses me."
Waters knows whereof he speaks; he has a history of shocking -- even horrifying -- conservatives while delighting iconoclasts. To prove the point, three infamous films screen in a mini-retrospective: Pink Flamingos (1972, now with fifteen extra minutes, and who can get too much of Divine?) on Friday, October 29; Female Trouble (1974's philosophical assertion that "crime equals beauty") on Saturday, October 30; and Polyester (1981) on Sunday, October 31. For Polyester the audience will receive Odorama cards to scratch and sniff at crucial moments in the narrative.
But producer/writer/director/editor John Waters offers insights into more than his own wonderfully outrageous films. For example, he understands that the real reason young people don't vote is that "voting areas are decorated so horrendously. And people wear their frumpiest outfits when they go to vote." The solution is simple, according to Waters: "You should be sexual when you vote, so dress provocatively. We have to jazz it up." He does not understand, however, why voting remains so low-tech in this country. In fact, he wonders if anyone really counts any of it. Because he'll be in London on November 2, Mr. Waters voted just minutes before this interview (for John Kerry). Because the absentee ballot is so thick, is printed on real paper and has to be marked with a pencil, Waters says, "It looks official to me. Still, my prediction is that it will be a tie and the country will be in anarchy for eight months, because no one's giving in this time, and we will have no leader. It will be worldwide anarchy."
Waters has time to ponder the crucial issues that vex our culture because he doesn't watch television but instead reads voraciously. Oh, he has a TV "in case there's war and for porn." On second thought, Waters' appalling experience with the Motion Picture Association of America, which slapped A Dirty Shame with an NC-17 rating, leads him to deduce that "maybe we are at war -- between the Neuters and the Libertines. Here's a movie without a mean bone in its body. They're humor-impaired." Waters also notes the hypocrisy inherent in billboards from the Mayor's Council all over Baltimore, which urge parents to talk about sex with their children. As for current trends, "I've never seen a reality show. I live in Baltimore. It is a reality show. I just walk outside." Calling himself "a traveling salesman," Waters says he's always looking forward instead of backward, and happily for us that means St. Louis.