John Waters on beer, bathroom reading and his signature mustache


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Interviewing some celebrities can be as excruciating as putting out a campfire with your face, but talking to John Waters is a lot like talking to a friend -- that is, if you have friends who have made freaks, gays, drugs, abortions and religion into delightfully irreverent movies that have defined film genres since 1964.

Waters has more titles than a British monarch -- including "The Prince of Puke," "The Duke of Dirt," "The Sultan of Sleaze" and "The Supreme Overlord of the Northern Hemisphere" (okay, we made up that last one) -- but his well-earned titles have apparently not gone to his head (unlike those heaped on British monarchs). Waters is a laid-back, hilarious, classy and humble guy, and it's understandable why he has so many eager fan-stalkers trying to have a beer with him in his hometown of Baltimore.

Westword didn't get any beer, but we did get a chance to ask him the questions that readers here had posted -- and his answers were every bit as cool as we thought they would be.

Westword: Who or what is your signature pencil mustache inspired by?

Waters: Little Richard -- I saw him as a kid, and I wanted to scare my grandmother as much as when I played "Lucille."

Westword: It's amazing for the youngsters to imagine that Little Richard would scare anyone, since nowadays we have bands like Nickelback that should scare everyone.

Recently you were quoted as saying that you find reading while sitting on the toilet repellant. Given your track record as one of our leading bad taste-makers, how do you negotiate what is and is not repellant?

It's simple -- if you go to someone's house and look at magazines in their bathroom, is that how you want to see your hosts? Ever heard of shit and get off the pot? Do you want hernias? Keep it up. All that straining is not good for you.

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Do people really sit on their front porches in their underwear in Baltimore?

On August nights, in certain neighborhoods -- most definitely. But if you look at them, they'll give you the finger.

Denver should have more residents hanging out on their porches in their underwear, especially in our sleazier neighborhoods like Highlands Ranch and Washington Park West.

Have any of the latter-day, post-Manson serial killers held your interest at all?

I don't make jokes about it anymore, but I do follow cases legally. I taught in prisons, and if I wasn't a filmmaker I'd be a defense lawyer.

When was the last time you heard of a celebrity having empathy for anyone when it wasn't a public relations stunt? Good for you, John Waters. You help balance out dickheads like Chris Brown and those people who put their kids in dryers.

Why did you want Divine to eat dog shit at the end of Pink Flamingos?

I wanted it to have a happy ending.

What do you think of the flap in Plano, Texas, about the all-white stage version of Hairspray?

The only thing I understand about both sides of the controversy is that the school didn't handle it very well with the press. I'm for a production where everyone plays the opposite sex and race.

The solution to every ill with public education is probably putting more condom machines in school bathrooms.

Are you familiar with Denver's trashiest hot spots, and are you planning to visit any of them?

I'm looking forward to coming to Denver -- I haven't been there in a while. I learned that when I'm at work I can't go carousing because I always take morning flights, and I gotta get through to the next city and the next town.

So sorry, stalker-people---no freebies for you.

Waters will be hosting "An Evening with John Waters" -- his one-man vaudeville show based on his spoken word perfformance piece "This Filthy World" -- at the Mary Harris Auditorium, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 10.

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