John Waters

John Waters


4/22/1946, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Birth Name

John Russell Waters


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John Waters was born April 22, 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland.
According to John, from earliest memory, he was a bit obsessed with the unusual. Blood, gore and ghoulishness always fascinated him. On his path to the throne of 'king of weird', Waters combined comedic kitsch with garish…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Be sure to pick up John's book, "Role Models". Release date: May 25, 2010. 320 pages of what you'd expect and a lot of what you probably wouldn't. Publishers Farrar, Straus & Giroux

    • John Waters is a published and shown photographer who has a worldwide following.

    • John has also authored five books: "Shock Value," "Crackpot," "Pink Flamingos and Other Trash," "Hairspray, Female Trouble and Multiple Maniacs," and "Art: A Sex Book" (co-written with art critic Bruce Hainley).

    • Waters' first feature length film was Mondo Trasho (1969). The director and two actors were arrested before the film was completed for a misdemeanor, "indecent exposure". Nevertheless, Waters persisted and the film was finished.

    • John Waters' initial films were 8mm, with his first 16mm film being "Eat Your Makeup". In this story a disturbed woman and her lover kidnap fashion models and force them to (gasp!) model to the death.

    • Waters was dubbed "The Pope of Trash" by writer William Burroughs.

    • He had a cameo in Jackass: Number Two, which starred Dirty Shame co-star Johnny Knoxville.

    • John's brother Steve Waters appears in several of John Waters' films. In Polyester (1981) he was a porno picketer; in Multiple Maniacs (1970) he was the lovers lane boy; in Pink Flamingos he was a jogger.
      He also appeared on "Biography", 9/26/04, as himself in a show about John.

    • All of John's movies are set in Baltimore, Maryland.

    • On The Simpsons, episode #815, original air date 2/16/97 "Homer's Phobia", John Waters voiced the character of "John".

    • He played Pete Peters, a photographer, in the 2004 movie "Seed of Chucky"

    • John Waters receives mail at a favorite bookstore he's had a long-time relationship with in Baltimore. He actually makes regular visits to collect it. So, if you want to write to John Waters, address your mail c/o Atomic Books
      1100 W. 36th Street
      Baltimore, MD 21211 USA

      Do NOT email this bookstore about him. You'll be ignored and probably banned.

    • John Waters' parents, both in their 80's, went to see "A Dirty Shame". Waters' dad commented, 'I thought it was really funny and I hope I never see it again'. John said that was the best response.

    • Waters' "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket" was shown publically only once. This was at a coffee house in Baltimore, Maryland, near where John lived. A recent traveling photography event called " Change of Life" is showing it again as part of the exhibit.

    • John's parents let him do much of the filming of his first, 17 minute ($30 budget) movie, "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket" around their house. In fact, the final scene of the wedding on the roof, was on the roof of Waters' own home.

    • There was supposed to be a sequel to "Pink Flamingos", taking place about 15 years later. There was even an enormous (for a Waters film) budget of more than ½ million ! The death of Edith Massey (Miss Edie) and then of Divine, made Waters refuse to proceed, out of respect and out of his sincere belief that no one else could substitute for them.

    • In 1972's 'Pink Flamingos', several references are made to the Manson murders of the era. From a graffiti reading "free Tex Watson" (one of the Manson family imprisoned for murder), to a photo of Susan Atkins (another of the 'family'), the references are not so much mentioned as seen.

    • Polyester, in 1981, was a "smell-o-vision" movie, complete with scratch and sniff card and audience prompts to take a sniff. From air freshener to stinky feet, John Waters knows how to be disgustingly creative, which makes him memorable.

    • John Waters has a custom made 'electric chair' in his home. It is an exact replica of a real electric chair, however, it does not work.

    • When Fellini asked Warhol what film he'd see by an American filmmaker, Warhol told Fellini he'd see 'Pink Flamingos'.

    • In 1972 when he was shooting Pink Flamingos, John Waters was the typical long haired hippie freak, filming in city alleys (among other places of course) with his 'crew', a group of friends like only friends could be in the 1970's. A pleasant, though odd enough fellow, his smile came from just as deep down inside him then, as it does now. Whether you love him or not (I doubt anyone could possibly hate this guy), you have to enjoy his enjoying us.

    • John Waters' mother, having what she thought was a private discussion with his father, said (overheard by Waters), "Well, he's always been an odd duck". A statement that John Waters never forgot.

    • John Waters discusses Divine's "party fever", how they couldn't resist. Oddly, it was Divine who partied more and astounded Waters! Divine explains that he/she loved giving parties, enjoyed the people and relishes the memories.

      John reminisces with Divine about how much trouble they got in during their youth. Divine was a 'real good kid until (he/she) went 'real bad!'. Divine discusses how (her) parents kept him close by and usually disapproved of his selection of friends. Probably rightly so.

    • John Waters interviewed Divine a few times over the years, usually just two old friends rehashing old times. John admits to a regular youth spent doing typical things, including shoplifting. How anyone could NOT notice John Waters in any store and be watching him like a hawk, is beyond understanding.

    • John gets Divine, in an interview, to mention his/her first time doing drugs (marijuana) while a passenger in a friend's car and (the friend) making a score.

    • Divine first starred in John Waters' "Making Roman Candles" shortly after graduating high school in 1965 (the film came out in 1966). The reason that Divine gave for doing it was his/her always wanting to be a movie star. A lifelong friendship between John and (Glen) grew stronger over the years. John frequently used Divine in his films.

    • John Waters earliest (publically released) film, 1946, a short of about a minute and a half, starred himself and his parents in the most typical, (8 mm), no sound and horrible color film. He was a normal looking, adorable little curly haired baby with two perfectly normal looking, adorable parents. There was no indication as to what he'd eventually become.
      Of course John's earliest released film where HE is holding the camera, came a few years later.

    • The first "full length" John Waters film was the 95 minute, black and white, mono-sound, "Mondo Trasho" in 1969. The story was about a woman who hits a guy (Divine) while in her car and their adventures, visions and meetings with people even more strange than they are.
      While filming a scene involving nudity on the premises of a well known university for medicine and science, Waters and ensemble ended up evading police. Unsuccessfully. They were charged with "conspiracy to commit indecent exposure".
      The best (or worst?) part of this movie is lack of dialogue; however, the pop music soundtrack reflects the era and makes this a time capsule only John Waters could seal.

    • John Waters went on a roll beginning in 1997 as a voice (John) for The Simpsons (Homer's Phobia); the voice of Roger on Fraiser (The Maris Counselor) in February 1998. He showed up on Conan O'Brien's show in September 1998 and then on "So Graham Norton" and "V Graham Norton" in February 2002 and March 2003 respectively.

      Waters played himself in the June 11, 2004 episode of "Dinner for Five" and then in August was back on "The Graham Norton Effect."

      More recently he's done "Last Call with Carson Daly" in June 2005 and "Real Time with Bill Maher" in November 2005.

      His foray into television has been long awaited. In his new Court TV series "'Til Death Do Us Part," he assumes the role of "The Groom Reaper." It is only a 1/2 hour show. Still, 30 minutes with John Waters running it? Well, it seems like so much more.

    • Three years after his "21 Jump Street" appearance in 1990, John Waters had the role of a bartender in "Homicide: Life On The Street" (March 24, 1993, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"), then Ricki Lake on April 12, 1994 (remember, she did his movie "Hairspray". He returned to Homicide: Life On the Street again in 1995, playing R. Vincent Smith in the "Law and Disorder" episode.

    • Waters surprisingly showed up on "21 Jump Street", February 19, 1990, which marked his friendship with Johnny Depp, who was also on that series. It was right around this same time that Johnny Depp was featured in Waters' movie, "Cry-Baby".

    • Beginning in 1986, John Waters began appearing on television with his first appearance on David Letterman, October 16 (1986).

    • John Waters sneaky, uncredited appearances are:
      1969's (his own movie) "Mondo Trasho" as the voice of a reporter
      1972's "Pink Flamingos" (his own movie) as the voice of Mr. J
      1994's "Serial Mom", voice of Ted Bundy
      1998's "Pecker", voice of pervert on telephone
      2000's "Cecil B. DeMented (or Demented), a reporter

  • Quotes

  • Making off the wall,never mainstream movies since 1964, this guy deserves his own show! Oh wait! He's got one? Yup! Court TV's upcoming series, "Til Death Do Us Part", hosted by, John Waters.moreless

    John Waters was destined to be an underappreciated, classic, cult filmmaker; or a serial killer, from the earliest years of his childhood. Enjoying the freedom and ability to keep on going and going…we can appreciate which one of the callings he chose.

    It’s frightening, if you think about it, to imagine what’s going on in his deepest, darkest places when puts together the images he’s captured on film. From the very earliest, probably a social statement for a youthful 18 year old Waters’, “Hag in a Black Leather Jacket”, this short film was about a black man who courted a white ballerina by carrying her around in a garbage can and recruits a Klansman to perform the rooftop wedding.

    Fortunately, he never took himself so seriously that he didn’t have a good time. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, John would make unaccredited appearances in his own movies and others. Many times just a voice on a telephone (including Ted Bundy and a pervert). It’s his humor that makes his movies, sometimes grossly stupid (have you seen any of them?), not just watchable, but looked forward to.

    Pairing with the now deceased actor known as Divine, an obese, cross-dresser/female impersonator, right from the beginning of his career, it was the movie, “Flamingos” that brought this dynamic duo of doo to light with the long-remembered dog poo eating scene. John Waters tends to cast Mink Stole in his films as well.

    With many appearances on David Letterman, one wonders whether it’s John or Dave who is playing with the viewing public. Not that it matters. Just having Waters giving us so much to watch, unable to look away, stunned by both subject and portrayal, is quite enough. That he’s laughing at us as well as with us, well, that’s ok too. Just as long as he doesn’t take up serial killing and figure out where I live.