PRINT October 1998


John Waters

John Waters is a filmmaker and artist who divides his time between Baltimore and New York. His film Pecker opened nationwide in September. His photographs were recently published in John Waters: Director's Cut (Scalo). Photo: Greg Gorman.


    I defy you to come up with a more cutting-edge piece of work than this shockingly beautiful sculpture I first saw at the opening of the Menil Collection’s Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston. Rich people, art critics, and museum trustees never looked more vulnerable as they turned the corner and came face-to-face with this rudely witty, obscenely elegant piece that made everybody in the room look like they were trying too hard. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s supposed to be about “time and meaning,” “transformation,” and “metamorphosis and myth,” but to me it looks like a most confident and graceful depiction of Godzilla’s discharge. Go see it. It’s still there.

  2. ODEUR 53

    I never wear a scent, but this “abstract anti-perfume” from Comme des Garçons has me hooked. Only Rei Kawakubo could get away with creating a new fragrance “cloned” from “inorganic materials,” “smells with no precise names only abstract ideas.” Do you want to smell like “the absence of structure”? I sure do. How about the combination of “the freshness of oxygen,” “burnt rubber,” “wash drying in the wind,” and “ultimate fusion”? If so, you’re in luck. Just call me Odeur 53 John. P.S., it stings.


    The Variety of the porno film business. This monthly trade glossy reviewing such titles as Shut Up and Blow Me, Fuck My Dirty Shit Hole, and Rectal Rooter also features hard-hitting editorials against “barebacking” (lack of condom use) in heterosexual sex epics. The gossipy features on porno-star feuds alone make this a must-read for any serious student of journalism.


    Even though Gore Vidal later called her “our best comic novelist,” the great Dawn Powell died broke in 1965, “destined to be forgotten.” But now a full-fledged Dawn Powell revival is in progress. Try starting with My Home Is Far Away (“not for fun but it is a masterpiece,” reads the least aggressive jacket blurb I’ve ever seen) and graduate to The Diaries of Dawn Powell where, after the death of her husband of forty-two years, Powell writes, “we have been through worse disasters together.” Then you’ll be ready for the book I’ve been waiting for: Tim Page’s sad but never depressing, funny but hardly smile-inducing biography Dawn Powell (Henry Holt), the crowning jewel in the literary resurgence of the wittiest, most terrifyingly personal writer you never heard of.


    The trashiest girl group since the Shangri-las. Four teenage tough girls from Palo Alto, California, who don’t have names, only letters (Donna A, C, F, and R) that are spelled out on their Kmart-style T-shirts. Singing about busting curfews, parental meddling, and teenage sex, here are the baby-sitters of your nightmares. “You make me hot!” they snarl in their jailbait voices; “I’m thinkin’ of taking a bite, if you know what I mean!”


    The long-running, still-great Friday night “hetero-friendly” punk gay party at Don Hill’s, produced by Michael Schmidt. It’s got everything I need in a New York club: scrawny go-go boys, Russ Meyer–type go-go girls (with and without penises), queerly incorrect music, and sexually confused beauties of both sexes. Best yet, it’s the only club in town that never tries to get its celebrity guests in the gossip columns.


    The last TV show I watched regularly was The Fugitive in 1963. Then I took LSD and never watched television again. Until now. Homicide is the grittiest, best-acted, coolest-looking show on TV.


    I always went to protests in the old days not so much for politics but because everybody looked so sexy. Tear gas, Vietcong flags, fighting the “pigs”: it all made me horny. I didn’t worship Mick Jagger, Joan Baez, or Wavy Gravy; no, I idolized Bernadine Dohrn, Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, Jim Fouratt, and Kathy Boudine. Sixties Radicals, Then and Now brings me up to date on some of my one-time mentors, the cultural terrorists who influenced my early films much more than anyone knows. Now, if someone would only tell the story of Sue Africa, the only white member of MOVE, the radical back-to-nature group that was bombed by the city of Philadelphia in 1985. She must not be forgotten!


    The sole artist I collect whose work made a dinner guest in my New York apartment threaten to leave before the meal was served. “You bought that!?” the usually sophisticated friend screamed as she tried to fathom Lily’s girlish, nauseatingly sweet drawing. “Well . . . yes,” I stammered, trying to convince my dinner partner of Lily’s subversive celebration of everything artistically incorrect: bird-brained femininity, shallow kindness, and mawkish cheer all colored with a ham-fisted lack of irony. “And better yet, she did it first!” I tried to reason as my friend reluctantly sat down to dinner, grumbling right on through the appetizers.

  10. BRAWNY

    The only paper-towel packaging you can jerk off to.