Wednesday, December 14, 2005

John Waters Returns

John Waters (filmmaker)
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John Waters (born April 22, 1946, Baltimore, Maryland) is an American filmmaker. He has long been known as a "bad boy" among filmmakers. John Waters is also a professor for cinema and subculture at the European Graduate School. Dubbed "The Pope of Trash" by writer William Burroughs, his earlier film works included Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living, sometimes referred to as the Trash Trilogy. These films pushed hard at the boundaries of conventional propriety and movie censorship and indeed, many felt, good taste. A particularly notorious segment of Pink Flamingos featured crossdressing actor Divine eating fresh dog feces. According to Waters himself, he is often mistaken for Steve Buscemi, and once sent Christmas cards containing photos of Buscemi to his friends just to see if any of them would notice.
Waters and Divine (then known as Glen Milstead) lived near Baltimore, Maryland as boys, a short distance apart, where they met and became friends. Mainly based in Baltimore, Waters tended to work with a regular team of actors (the Dreamlanders) who starred in most of his films, including Divine, Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller, Edith Massey, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, and others. His early films were among the first picked up for distribution by New Line Cinema.
His 1981 film Polyester starred Divine opposite once-teen-idol Tab Hunter. His films have become less controversial and more mainstream, although works such as Hairspray, Cry Baby and Serial Mom still retain his trademark inventiveness. The film Hairspray was turned into a hit Broadway musical, which swept the 2003 Tony Awards.
Waters' most recent film, the NC-17 rated A Dirty Shame, is a move back towards his earlier, more controversial work.
Waters has made most of his movies in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, and is still praised by many natives of that city as a native son.
Waters has also published collections of his writings including Shock Value (1981), Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters (1987, Revised Edition 2003), Trash Trio: Three Screenplays: Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, Flamingos Forever (1988), Hairspray, Female Trouble, and Multiple Maniacs: Three more screenplays (2005); as well as the photo collections Director's Cut (1997), John Waters: Change of Life (2004), and Art: A Sex Book (2003).

John Waters filmography
Hag in a Black Leather Jacket (8 mm) 1964 (b&w) starring Mary Vivian Pearce, Mona Montgomery; 17 minutes.
Roman Candles (three 8 mm shown simultaneously) 1966 (color) starring Maelcum Soul, Bob Skidmore, Mona Montgomery, Divine, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, David Lochary; 40 minutes
Eat Your Makeup (16mm) 1968 (b&w) starring Maelcum Soul, David Lochary, Marina Melin, Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mona Montgomery; 45 minutes
Mondo Trasho (16mm) 1969 (b&w) starring Mary Vivian Pearce, Divine, David Lochary, Mink Stole; released through New Line Cinema; 95 minutes. $2,000 total cost
The Diane Linkletter Story (16mm) 1969 (b&w) starring Mary Vivian Pearce, Divine, David Lochary; 15 minutes.
Multiple Maniacs (16mm) 1970 (b&w) starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey; released through New Line Cinema; 90 minutes. $5,000 total cost.
Pink Flamingos (16 & 35 mm) 1972 (color) starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Edith Massey; released through New Line Cinema; 93 minutes. $10,000. A re-edited version including extra scenes was released in 1997.
Female Trouble (16 & 35 mm) 1974 (color) starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Edith Massey; released through New Line Cinema; 92 minutes. $25,000. A re-edited version including extra scenes was released in 1997.
Desperate Living (16 & 35 mm) 1977 (color) starring Liz Renay, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe, Edith Massey, Mary Vivian Pearce, Jean Hill; released through New Line Cinema; 90 minutes. $65,000.
Polyester (35 mm) 1981 (color) starring Divine, Tab Hunter, Edith Massey, Stiv Bators, David Samson, Mary Garlington, Ken King, Mink Stole, Joni-Ruth White; released through New Line Cinema. This film was released in "odorama", which meant that a "scratch and sniff" card corresponding to moments in the film (eg, Divine farting) was issued to cinema goers.
Hairspray (35 mm) 1988 (color) starring Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine, Deborah Harry, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Ric Ocasek, Pia Zadora, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Mink Stole; released through New Line Cinema; 90 minutes. Waters' first true 'big budget' ($2,000,000) foray into 'the mainstream'.
Divine 1990 (color) starring Divine. Video release, 110 minutes. Two films on one video, both starring Divine and directed by Waters. The first is The Diane Linkletter Story, originally released in 1969. The second is The Neon Woman.
Cry-Baby (35 mm) 1990 (color) starring Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Susan Tyrrell, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Kim McGuire, Stephen Mailer, Darren E. Burrows, Polly Bergen, Patricia Hearst, David Nelson, Troy Donahue, Mink Stole, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, Willem Dafoe; released through Universal Studios; 85 minutes
Serial Mom (35 mm) 1994 (color) starring Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, Scott Wesley Morgan, Walt MacPherson, Patricia Hearst, Suzanne Somers. 93 minutes.
Pecker (35 mm) 1998 (color) starring Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci, Martha Plimpton, Brendon Sexton, Mary Kay Place, Patricia Hearst, Mink Stole, and Lili Taylor. New Line Cinema 86 minutes.
Cecil B. DeMented (35mm) 2000 (color) starring Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt, Adrian Grenier, Larry Gilliard Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jack Noseworthy, Mink Stole, Ricki Lake, Kevin Nealon, Roseanne Barr, and Patricia Hearst. 87 minutes.
A Dirty Shame (35mm) 2004 (color) starring Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair, Mink Stole, David Hasselhoff, Patricia Hearst, and Chris Isaak. Released through Fine Line Features. 89 minutes.
John Waters' life and work was analysed in the documentary homage Divine Trash (1998) by Steve Yeager, named after the actor Divine.

External links
John Waters at the Internet Movie Database
John Waters Faculty Website, European Graduate School
Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
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