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John Waters' most subversive thing

Posted at 11:49 AM on November 6, 2007 by Euan Kerr

"I saw 'Taxi Driver' with Hinckley in the courtroom."

John Waters has a way of dropping little details like this into a conversation. They tend to hijack whatever you are talking about. We were chatting about his life and career in preparation for his upcoming appearance at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday night.

For many years Waters, known to one generation for "Pink Flamingos" and to another for "Hairspray," has made a point of sitting in courtrooms to hear the strange stories behind twisted crimes.

That's how Waters came to be in the courtroom where the man who shot Ronald Reagan due to his obsession with Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver" joined the jury sitting in judgement on him in watching the movie one more time.

Waters says Hinckley reacted "with scary obsession."

"It was a horrifying screening. That was the most horrifying screening I've been in, in my life," he says.

Waters has been to a lot of screenings. Obsessed with movies from his childhood on (his early heroes were the Wicked Witch of the West, the child murderer from "The Bad Seed," and Captain Hook,) Waters lives eats and breathes movies.

His films are held up as the ultimate in bad taste, but Waters says his most subversive film, in fact what he describes as his "only subversive thing I have ever done" is "Hairspray."


"Middle American audiences are completely embracing it," Waters says, "Watching two men sing a love song to each other, embracing a movie, a musical, another movie, that encourages teenage inter-racial dating, and nobody seems to have a red flag that goes up."

He stresses that "The Filthy World" is quite a different kind of show, but he says people should get that from the title.

November 2007
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