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John in Birthday Waters

“Without obsession, life is nothing,” said John Waters, the avant guarde film maker who seems to do art for arts sake.

Starting with an 8mm camera, he began making films with his stock company called The Dreamlanders, which included drag queen Divine.  Setting his work in Baltimore, Maryland, Waters has explored some of the more depraved aspects of life with such strange works as Mondo Trasho and Multiple Maniacs.

Eventually he did his Trash Trilogy of Pink Flamingos, Female Troubles and Desperate Living.  New Line Cinema distributed these works which were full of bad acting and worse production values.

in 1981, John released Polyester.  It was the first film in ‘Odor-rama' with scratch and sniff cards given out to the audience.  The first smell is a bouquet of roses.  It went off the deep end from there.

Falling into the mainstream, John made the bigger budget flicks of Hairspray,  Cry-Baby and Serial Mom.  Working with bigger budgets and all-star casts, some have accused John of selling out to Hollywood.  Of this, he said, “I'd love to sell out completely.  It's just that nobody has been willing to buy.”

Hairspray was turned into a major Broadway musical and eventually a major musical motion picture with John Travolta playing the drag part originally done by Divine.  Is John trying to tell us something?

Lately, Mr. Waters has been hitch-hiking across the USA.  So if you see a thin man with a pencil-thin mustache on the road, thumb jutted out, it may be John Waters.

Or a murderous hitchhiker. You just never know.

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