A LARGE PART OF ME resists writing about John Waters; it seems a bit like paying attention to a demanding, bratty, suburban kid who’s already had as much attention as anyone ought to have. And in a period when the forces of repression seem to be closing in, Waters’ open defiance of humane canons of sensitivity and responsibility seems calculated to give Moral Majority types confidence in their attack on the arts as a pernicious influence. Still, I find Waters’ accomplishments as a filmmaker—especially in four features, Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974), and Desperate Living (1977)—not only remarkable as entertainment, but salutary as well.

While Waters correctly predicted that by developing a reputation as the “Master of Sleaze” he could catch the attention of a substantial portion of the movie-going public—especially the big city midnight crowds and

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