Oooh mama, this is not for the faint of heart! If you aren’t already a fan of John Waters and his coterie of misfits and outsiders then this is NOT the place to start! I first became aware of John Waters through the 1990 film Cry-Baby. It used to be on TV fairly frequently in the late 90s/early Aughts, and I would secretly watch bits and pieces of it when my parents weren’t in the room. I had the “flashback” button on the remote primed and ready to send me back to Nickelodeon if I heard the front door open or footsteps head down the hall. I had no idea what I was watching, but I knew that it probably wouldn’t have been a hit with my ultra-Catholic parents! It took me a few months of sneak peeks at the movie before I finally saw it in full, but before it was even finished my fate was sealed: I wanted to be a part of THAT world!
…and oh what a world it is. Mr. Waters flings the doors wide open to his world through a series of essays about his, well, role models. He covers celebrities, criminals, outsiders, and local Baltimore legends. If you are going to dive headfirst into this glorious mess, I do recommend the audiobook; it’s like having the Pope of Filth himself sitting next to you at a dinner party and whispering wild stories in your ear. His conversation is not for the faint of heart; he pushes buttons with an eccentric’s specificity; buttons as varied and wonky as his prized coats from Comme des Garcons (Rei Kawakubo is one of his role models). Come for the dissections of art, film, fashion, and struggle to keep your jaw from dropping while Mr. Waters drops stories about drugs (so many poppers! speed! LSD!), sex (good perverts! bad perverts!), religion (cults! saints! fanatics!), and his own interior life. There’s a reason that they call him the Pope of Filth. and he can’t wait to tell you why!