John Waters wants to give you a ride in his car. Come on, he says, hop in the front and I’ll give you the tour.
Well, what have you got lose? It’s raining out, the car’s warm, John’s got smokes, and what’s that he’s saying?
“The only thing I want to be is a negative role model for a whole new generation of bored youth.”
You know all about being bored, and you never did get those cha-cha heels for Christmas, did you?
But remember what your mother said about getting in cars with strangers?
Screw mom! I know John. He’s got fun in his eyes. He’s got a pencil-thin mustache. He’s the Pope of Trash, and he’s gotta car with which he’s gonna show me all the hot spots of “Charm City.”
In this clip Waters takes a news crew around Baltimore (“Charm City”!) to promote his scratch ‘n’ sniff feature film Polyester in 1981, with a visit to Edith Massey and a few blessings from Divine.
Today, Waters is still working as hard but he no longer smokes, and watches what he eats. All the hard work has brought him three apartments across America-one in ‘Charm City,’ another in San Francisco and a pad in New York’s West Village. He spends his spare time hanging out in bars, reading books, going to film festivals, and collecting what he terms, “angry art.” (One recent purchase was a “deadly” canvas covered in mold.)
So now you know. And next time John stops to offer you a lift, hop in the car!
Double bonus, the “banned” ‘Shock Value’ trailer and interview, after the jump…
I first heard about Armando Bo’s lusty 1969 Argentinian sexploitation film Fuego (Fire) due to John Waters championing of the film, but I didn’t actually get to see it until last night. I’m always interested in seeing something that John Waters is enthusiastic about and I reckon that quite a few of you feel the same way. If so, then you need to get your hands on Fuego toot sweet.
It does not disappoint.
Fuego stars the outrageously hot, extremely well-endowed Isabel Sarli, who has the sort of “brick shithouse” build that Russ Meyer was so very fond of. Fuego and Meyer’s Vixen would make a great “nymphomaniac” double bill, but a more appropriate match-up would be Female Trouble and Fuego, which now that I’ve seen it, was obviously a big influence not only on John Waters, but also on Divine. Much of Dawn Davenport—the character’s fashion sense, walk and bouffant hairdo—would appear to be closely modeled on Isabel Sarli. Sarli was also an outrageously hammy actress and Divine just took her already over-the-top “undulating” acting style and turned the volume up to 11.
Sarli plays the insatiable, irresistible Laura and in this role, lemme tell ya, she is perfectly cast. Laura is a complete nymphomaniac and naturally this gives Sarli plenty of excuses to get naked, which she does constantly and we see her engaged in trysts with both men (any man seems to do, her catchphrase—normally screamed—is “I need men!”) and with her older, lizard-like lesbian maid. A wealthy businessman named Carlos (director Armando Bo, who also wrote the script and the insanely incessant music) sees some girl-on-much-older-girl action on the beach and later attends a party at Laura’s boyfriend’s house. Soon Carlos is seeing Laura, but he has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. She roams the streets flashing her tits and he is constantly catching her in bed with other dudes. It happens a lot.
The first part of Fuego is where most of the nudity occurs, whereas the later half is talkier, more melodramatic and more nuts. Laura realizes that her uncontrollable urges are causing her husband grief when he nearly kills an electrician he catches her bonking. They go to a “sex expert” to discuss what can be done about her “condition” (a Pocket Rocket might help…) During a gynecological exam, Laura has a thundering orgasm. The pair travel all the way to New York where Carlos is told by a doctor there that the only thing that can save Laura is his unwavering love.
I won’t tell you how it ends, but when you know in advance that Armando Bo and Isabel Sarli made 27 films together—with her rolling around naked in every single one of them—and that they were famously lovers for years (although he never left his wife for her), you can start to project all sorts of psychological things onto Fuego. First off, Bo wrote the script and so he therefore wrote the cuckold role for himself. There’s also the voyeuristic aspect of Bo arranging to see his woman getting her tits out for so many other guys.
There’s a certain “subtext” to Fuego, let’s just say.
Waters calls Fuego: “A hetero film for gay people to marvel at” and truly, it’s a movie that covers all the bases. I’d recommend watching it in a group, like Birdemic or something like that. It’s enjoyable no matter what, but like most “so bad that it’s good” movies, experiencing it for the first time with other people is the way to go. I also recommend the dubbed version, the actors obviously had fun with it.
Armando Bo died in 1981 and Sarli stopped making films, She is now a cult figure with a devoted following. Sarli was feted at Lincoln Center in 2010.
You can find Fuego cheap on Amazon and it’s also here.
The NSFW trailer for Fuego:
In the clip below from his John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You show, the Fellini of Baltimore waxes poetic about one of his favorite films, admits that he “stole” a lot of stuff from Fuego and you can see some of the opening titles:
Jean E. Hill, the actress and greeting card model best known for her role as murderous maid Grizelda Brown in John Waters’ Desperate Living has died. She was also seen in his Polyester and A Dirty Shame.
I am very sad to announce that Jean Hill has passed away. She struggled with her health for a long time and put up a good fight. She was the most sincere, bluntly honest, loving and funny person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I will miss her. RIP Miss Jean Hill
One of Grizelda Brown’s best lines in Desperate Living is something I’m fond of saying in certain situations:
“I am sick of listenin’ to your bitchin’. The next time you feel a fit comin’ on, go outside and bitch. Bitch at the air. Bitch at the trees. But don’t bitch at us!”
I change the last line to “me” of course.
Miss Hill and her bodacious ta-tas were a frequent sight in novelty stores like Spencer Gifts throughout the 1980s. I met her once and she was a larger-than-life delight in every way.
Below, Grizelda is caught stealing, setting off an unfortunate chain of events…
Via one of Miss Jean E. Hill’s biggest fans, Douglas Hovy
Rock and Roll taught John Waters how to annoy his parents, but it was the nuns from his local church, who inadvertently encouraged his interest in cheap, exploitation films:
‘The first thing I can remember rebelling about really, was when I was about 8-years-old and every Sunday we’d go to church. Once a year they’d read us this pledge that we had to take for the Legion of Decency, which was the Catholic Church rating the movies—what you could see and what you couldn’t—and the condemned ones were the ones they’d tell us you’d go to Hell if you saw these movies.
Well, I remember refusing to do this pledge and my mother was kind of shocked, but I was just a child, and she didn’t make a big deal out of it. And on Sundays, the nuns would read us this list, with this voice like the Devil, and you know, seeing this nun stand there saying, “Love Is My Profession, Mom and Dad, The Naked Night.” I thought “What are these movies?” I’d never heard of them—they didn’t play at my neighborhood, believe me—but I would go and see them, or read about them, and clip the little list and keep a record of all these condemned movies. The Mom and Dad poster is hanging right in my hall—it’s still that much of an influence. But it made me want to see these movies I’d never, ever heard of. So, in fact they encouraged me, [the nuns] encouraged my interest, without ever knowing it completely.’
Growing Up With John Waters is a fabulous Channel 4 documentary from 1993, where the notorious director of Pink Flamingos, Multiple Maniacs, Female Trouble and Hairspray talks about the childhood events that shaped his life.
Graham Russell: Before you go, tell me about the time you met Nico.
John Waters: Nico ... I met her when she played in Baltimore. Well, (before that) I saw her play with The Velvet Underground at The Dom on St Marks Place(in New York) with The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. I have the poster still. But I met her much later when she had her solo career, which I loved. She was a total heroin addict. Did you ever read that book The End? (The 1992 book is a jaundiced and not exactly objective account by her former keyboardist James Young). It’s so hilarious. It was that – although it wasn’t that, that was later when she was touring England.
She played at this disco, and I went. And people went, but not a lot, it wasn’t full. And she was heavy and dressed all in black with reddish dark hair, and she did her (makes guttural moaning noise). Afterwards I said, “It’s nice to meet you, I wish you’d play at my funeral.” and she said (mimics doom-laden Germanic voice), “When are you going to die?” I told her, “You should have played at The Peoples Temple; you would’ve been great when everyone was killing themselves!” Then she said, “Where can I get some heroin?” I said, “I don’t know.” I don’t take heroin, so I don’t know. But even if I did, I wasn’t copping for Nico!
“But that was basically it. But I’ll always remember her, and I love Nico. I remember when she died, when she fell off the bicycle (in 1988). Every summer my friend Dennis and I, we play Nico music on the day she died (18 July). I saw that documentary Nico-Icon (Susanne Ofteringer, 1995), which was great. It’s a shame: she was mad about being pretty! She was sick of being pretty, being a model. And I remember her when she was in La Dolce Vita (1960), even before.
Nico ... great singer; and even the Velvet Underground hated having her. And her music can really get on your nerves. You have to be in the mood. Sometimes it gets on my nerves. You have to be in the mood to listen to it. To put on a whole day of Nico can be ... my favorite song of Nico ever, and I only have it on a tape that someone made, it’s a bootleg. Did you ever hear her sing “New York, New York”? It’s great! I wish she’d done a whole album of show tunes! Like “Hello Dolly” or “The Sound of Music”! (Mimics Nico singing “Hello Dolly”).
Below, Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman describes his experience with Nico when he put out The Marble Index and Nico sings “Janitor of Lunacy” on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975:
This is what Tranarchy is doing this weekend, a tribute to all things trashy, sleazy, skeezy, strange and Baltimorean. Yup, we’re showing every single full length film by cult auteur and Pope of Trash, the Ayatollah of Crud, the Prince of Puke, the one and only John Waters.
Every single one. In a row. Non-stop. For 24 hours.
The only things we’re not showing are his hard-to-find early short, and hell, if we can find ‘em, we’ll probably show them too!
You know, maybe we are crazy. And a little bit stupid. But we still don’t care. This movie marathon is something some of our members have dreamed of doing their whole lives, and just like the Dreamlanders, Tranarchy is dedicated to making our craziest, stupidest dreams a reality.
Let’s face it. watching all of these films back to back non-stop for 24 hours is going to be quite an endurance test. We are inviting patrons to sleep over, and Manchester’s Islington Mill (the venue for this festival of freakiness) are kindly letting us convert one of their heated gallery spaces into a giant bedroom for anyone who needs a break.
There will be lots of interactivity’s for patrons , including a Waters-inspired photo booth featuring some of his most iconic movie scenes, free popcorn, edible turds, and for the final film, a dance-a-long screening of Hairspray, dance lessons that will teach you to do The Madison. We’ll want you to go two up and two back with a big, strong turn. The brilliant artwork, above, by Manchester-based illustrator David Bailey, will also be available to buy as limited edition prints.
Even now, 42 years after the Dreamlanders made their first ripples in the puddle of public consciousness with the release of Pink Flamingos (our midnight show, of course!) they are THE SHIT. They were punks before there were punks (they died their hair with pen ink because colored dye was not commercially available back then.) They were openly queer before there was such a thing as queer culture (in fact, they were a huge part of defining what queer culture could and would be.) They were one of the only pockets of hippie-resistance outside of Warhol’s Factory, and their couldn’t-give-a-flying-fuck attitude is inspirational to this day. Cookie Meuller, Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pierce, Pat Moran, Vincent Peranio, Divine and John Waters, we salute you. For 24 fucking hours.
The Facebook event page for Tranarchy’s 24 Hour John Waters Movie Marathon is here.
In sourcing the content for the movie marathon we’ve collected some interesting curios and documentaries about John Waters and the Drreamlanders. Thankfully, some of them have appeared on Dangerous Minds before, including the excellent Incredibly Strange Move Show with Jonathan Ross and the brilliant Divine Trash. But here’s a little curio I am happy to say has never been on this site before. It’s an appearance on Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, where he gives us a tour of his Baltimore home and its cavalcade of perversions:
John Waters on Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
You know, we’ve been posting about John Waters on DM almost since its very inception. There are just too many great posts about the man to list them all individually. So instead of singling them out, have a scroll through the John Waters-tag page.
I have to admit, as a Mick living in Limeyland, I don’t fully understand what Thanksgiving is all about. All I know is that it’s as American as apple pie, as the Detroit Lions or the Pittsburgh Steelers, as right-wing Christian nut jobs or cheapo exploitation cinema starring 300lb drag queens.
So on this turkey day, come worship at the altar of the Pope of Trash. Because nothing strikes me as being more American than the work of cult auteur John Waters. What’s more fitting to watch on Thanksgiving than two of his very early, very cheap shocksploitation classics?
Sure, these films may represent a way of living and a segment of the US population that America is not too comfortable sharing with the rest of the world (see also: Honey Boo Boo Child) but it’s an integral part of America nonetheless, and worthy of as much celebration as turkeys or pancakes with bacon with maple syrup (I’ve tried that one, I wasn’t impressed.)
So here’s an early-John Waters double bill to sink your teeth into, starting with 1969’s silent Mondo Trasho, (it’s got a great soundtrack though) and followed up by 1970’s ever-so-slightly higher budget Multiple Maniacs (it’s got sound!)
Even now, over forty years on, these films have the power to shock. Mondo Trasho kicks off with a live chicken being killed (kind of of fitting for Thanksgiving?) and Multiple Maniacs climaxes with Divine being raped by a giant lobster. In between you will find all kinds of depravity, though looking back it’s funny how innocent all this depravity seemed. There’s no real rage or unhappy-ever-after bleakness on display, everyone involved always seemed to be having too much fun!
Some people would say these films are hard to watch, and you know, they might be right. That doesn’t mean the films are not worth watching. In fact, some other people would say that John Waters’ films are so good that they are all worth watching in row, back to back, non-stop for 24 hours. Who would be crazy enough to attempt such a thing?!
This really happened today: Somewhere “in the middle of Ohio,” the aptly named New York-based indie rock band Here We Go Magic picked up film director John Waters who had stuck out his thumb on an interstate highway ramp. Via DCist:
Update 2:45 p.m.: Band member Michael Bloch tells us, “There’s a hydro-fracking boom in western Pennsylvania. You can’t get a motel room. We had to drive til 4AM, and finally found a Days Inn in eastern Ohio. Getting back on the highway this morning, there was a man at the side of the on-ramp with a sign that read ‘to the end of Rte 70.’ Jen wanted to pick him up, but we drove past him. As we passed by, our sound guy said ‘John Waters.’ Luke said, ‘Yep, definitely John Waters.’ We got off at the next exit and circled back. He was still there. We pulled up, opened the door and asked where he was coming from. ‘Baltimore,’ he said. And we said ‘Get in, sir.’ “
Sometimes there comes along a director, whose talent is so apparent that you wonder why they’re not more famous. Glenn McQuaid is such a director, and his first feature, I Sell the Dead, in 2008, offered everything I want from a horror film.
It was my brother who tapped me in to Mr. McQuaid’s work. My brother and I had grown-up under the spell of the horror films produced by Universal in the 1930s and 1940s (with Karloff and Lugosi, and Lon Chaney jnr.), and Hammer films (with Cushing and Lee) from the fifties and sixties. Of course there were also the Vincent Price and Roger Corman collaborations, as well as the Milton Subotsky and Max J Rosenberg anthology films of the 1960s and ‘70s.
We also had a love of stories by Dennis Wheatley (in particular his series of classic horror novels published under his Library of the Occult - Stoker, Shelley, ”Carnaki, the Ghost Finder”, and Guy Endore), and the tales of terror penned by Poe, Blackwood and Bloch.
My brother raved about I Sell the Dead, and when I saw it I had to agree. Written and directed by McQuaid, it stars Larry Fessenden, Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman and Angus (Phantasm) Scrimm, and is near perfect - a witty, clever and engaging story, presented in the style of the best, classic horror film. I was smitten, the same way I was when Boris Karloff as the Monster first walked backwards into the laboratory; or by Oliver Reed when he turned into a werewolf. McQuaid knows his genre and its cinematic traditions.
For his next film, McQuaid is one of the directors (alongside David Bruckner, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, and Adam Wingard ) of the soon to be released anthology film, V/H/S, for which he wrote an directed the “unconventional killer-in-the-woods chiller Tuesday The 17th”. When V/H/S previewed at the Sundance Film Festival, it received the kind of exposure of which publicists dream.
At its screening two audience members fled in terror – one fainted, one puked. The last time I recall such a response was for The Exorcist in 1973, where there were reports of fainting, vomiting, and even an alleged possession.
When was shown at SXSW, V/H/S was described as ”an incredibly entertaining film that succeeds in being humorous, sexy, gross and scary as fuck.” While Dead Central gave it 5/5.
Though all the directors have been praised for the quality of their films, the reviews have singled out McQuaid for the excellence and originality of his contribution.
Before all this kicked off, I contacted Glenn McQuaid to organize an interview. Over the following weeks emails went back-and-forth, until the following arrived. The interview covers Mr McQuaid’s background, his influences, early work, The Resurrection Apprentice, working with Larry Fessenden, Ron Perlman and Dominic Monaghan on I Sell the Dead, to V/H/S.
The full interview with Glenn McQuaid, after the jump….
The thing I love most about John Waters is that he always appears unfazed by anything. He’s cool, self-contained and shrugs off all condescension. He’s the kind of role model that should be used in schools to get youngsters (and adults) to like themselves, and be confident in who they are and how they want to live.
Steven Yaeger’s documentary on Waters, Divine Trash, is one of those films that ends up on everyone’s wish list at some point or another, it’s an ‘O, I’d love to see that’ kind-of-a-film, and is as good as you hope. This is especially true if you’re a fan of Mr Waters, and want to see behind the scenes and find out all about his early days as a film-maker, in particular the making of Pink Flamingoes. Director Yaeger more than deserved his Film-Makers’ Trophy for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival for Divine Trash in 1998, as he gets the best out of Waters and knows how to tell a damned good tale. With contributions from Divine, Hal Hartley, Steve Buscemi, Jim Jarmusch, Waters and of course those fabulous Dreamlanders.
John Waters in rattling good form on Clive James’ chat show Saturday Night Clive from 1990.
Antipodean James started off as a sixties folk singer, before establishing himself as a respected TV critic and presenter. James is left mainly as a spectator as Waters brilliantly improvises on deviants who make adverts; how he’d like to cast Mother Theresa as a hooker; why Jayne Mansfield was the first “female female impersonator”; American fashion; his fan mail from prisons; and how his failure as a juvenile delinquent led to his first film.
Happy Birthday Harris Glenn Milstead, born today at the Women’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1945.
Glenn will be forever in our hearts as the one and only Divine - legendary star of John Waters’ movies, and singer of a slew of Hi-Nrg classics, “I’m So Beautiful”, “Walk Like A Man”, “T-Shirt and Tight Blue Jeans”, and “Shake It Up”.
I was fortunate to see Divine in concert in 1984, and it is a memory I will always treasure. To celebrate what would have been Glenn’s 66th birthday, here are a few of Divine’s hitsplus a seldom seen interview from Channel 4’s The Tube.
Stephen King warns his younger self not to do recreational drugs. Alice Cooper writes “Trashy girls are exciting for about five minutes…Keep your eye out for a good-lookin’ church girl. Then you’ll have the best of both worlds.” While Gillian Anderson says, “You are completely and utterly self obsessed. If you spent a quarter of your time thinking about others instead of how much you hate your thighs, your level of contentment and self worth would expand exponentially.”
First of all, you’re right. You’re right about who you think is wrong. You’re right to trust your instincts and to be your own person.
Second of all. slow down. Before you know it you’ll be away from home and you’ll be living your own life. Don’t waste energy trying to make time move faster, because it won’t until one day when you don’t want it to and you’ll wonder if all those nights spent longing for the future are now being paid back by making a beautiful present more fleeting. So please, if only for my karmic peace of mind, chill out about it, ok?
You’re going to be really, really happy one day and you’re going to have a life that is so far from your comprehension right now that I’m not even going to try to explain how it happens. I can hardly work it out for myself. You just have to go with the flow, Alan. Just let go and tumble through life. It will all be okay.
But it’s not a commercial. There are really shitty bits. You don’t even know it but right now there are things happening to you that are too painful to process and so, like the adults around you, you’re just not dealing with them, suppressing them, locking them up in a box in your mind. When you’re 28, that box is going to explode open and tear your life apart. Everything will change and there will be much pain and it will take you a long time to recover. But recover you will, and it will ultimately make you a better person, and those you love will benefit too.
You’re going to have lots of sex and you’re going to feel sexy. Don’t worry. Just try and remember that it’s better for you to feel sexy about yourself than for other people to tell you you are. It’s going to be okay.
In 1997 you’ll meet someone in New York at the party for the opening of ‘Titanic - the Musical’. Now, I am not one for regrets, Alan, and I truly believe that everything you experience between 16 and now all contributes to make you the really happy person that you become, so how could I wish any of it to be different? But, come on, the show is called ‘Titanic’, that should be an omen. Walk away from this person. You’ll never make them not be angry. Later on you’ll see a pattern of you trying to fix angry people and you’ll be able to break it, so do yourself a favour and walk away, let this one be the first. He will try to destroy you. He won’t, but he’ll try very hard.
You will love and be loved and be rich beyond your wildest dreams, and the best thing about this richness is that it has nothing to do with money. It’s all going to be okay.
A teacher at drama school is going to tell you that’ll you’ll never make it as a professional actor. He is wrong. Wrong to say it, and just wrong because you do okay. Try not to let it dent you too much.
You’re never going to have children, Alan. You’re going to try, in relationships with both women and men, but it doesn’t happen, and that’s okay too. Right now you have the happiest family anyone could wish for.
It really is all going to be okay. I’ll see you in 29 years. Enjoy it.
More letters from Kathleen Turner and John Waters, after the jump…