Growing Up John Waters: The Oddball Filmmaker Catalogues His Many Formative Rebellions (1993)

John Waters seems, now, to have a grand old time being John Waters. But what kind of trials must the director of Pink Flamingos have endured growing up in midcentury suburban America with his distinctive set of interests, proclivities, and aesthetics? The half-hour Channel 4 documentary Growing Up John Waters asks the filmmaker directly, and he responds with stories of the many acts of rebellion he’s had to engage in, from childhood through adulthood, to reach his full taste-transgressing potential. Along the way, we get his always entertainingly askew (if ultimately sensible) perspectives on the early sixties, religion, the Cold War, sports, shoplifting, the Civil Rights movement, and Elvis.

Rebellion John Waters-style, as fans would expect, bears little resemblance to the ways we’ve long expected kids to push back against authority. “What were your childhood fantasies?” the interviewer asks as an opener. “I ain’t tellin’ you,” Waters responds. “If I ever write about my sex life, I’m making the money on it, not Channel 4.” And indeed, you can read much in his three books of prose now available, but Growing Up John Waters by no means skips on the insight, even in matters copulatory. While discussing the surreal nature of his movies’ love scenes, for instance, Waters makes an admission that foreshadows the theme of A Dirty Shame, which he would make a decade later: “I love sex. But it would be better if I had thought it up.”

(via Dangerous Minds)

Related content:

An Anti, Anti-Smoking Announcement from John Waters

John Waters: The Point of Contemporary Art

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.



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  1. Robert Maier says . . . | May 8, 2013 / 3:49 am

    If you’re interested in a view of Waters that isn’t just interviews, but a fresh eyewitness view of someone who worked with him for 15 years check out the book “Low Budget Hell:Making Underground Movies with John Waters” — google it

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