Maggie Gerrand Presents

John Waters

Make Trouble

The king of camp, the titan of trash, the auteur of outrage - the legendary John Waters is returning to Melbourne to unleash his rapid-fire, one man show of wit and scandal.  Stories of his childhood, early influences and Catholicism, to fashion lunacy, sexual deviancy, and how to become famous.

 “Waters doesn't kowtow to the received wisdom, he flips it the bird… he has the ability to show humanity at its most ridiculous and make that funny rather than repellent.”The Washington Post

Hysterical, shameless and revelatory
With his pencil-thin moustache, Hollywood smile and trademark flamboyant suit, John Waters has forged an unwavering path in his quest to give bad taste a good name.

Known for his early subversive work such as Pink Flamingos (1972), as well as box office hit Hairspray (1988), the eccentric filmmaker has pioneered transgressive movies.

In this Melbourne exclusive performance, Waters serves up salty reflections on the world today, his camp obsessions and life lessons including the downsides to fame (none), all studded with cameos from the larger-than-life stars he has worked with — from Divine and Mink Stole to Johnny Depp, Kathleen Turner and Patricia Hearst.

The raconteur has been touring to adoring crowds around the world for nearly 15 years — though his outrageous insights are as sharp as ever. His return to the Arts Centre Melbourne coincides with the release of his ninth book Mr. Know-It-All, The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.
For one night only, hear the ruminations and frank observations from the Filth Elder himself. 

It is a show that I’m constantly updating. 
I try to make it filthier and dirtier.”    John Waters


October 2019

Sydney Opera House 15 October

Brisbane Powerhouse 16 October

Melbourne Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne 18 October

Hobart Mona 19 October

Further Information

More about John Waters

How many of us can say we really did it our way? Frank Sinatra sure seemed like he did. Who else? Who else seemed to not only live the life they wanted to lead, but a life that was in many ways counter to the way everybody else was doing it? Sinatra certainly did it his way, but he was hardly an outlier—he had a whole pack.

You know whom I’m driving towards, because if you’ve got this far you’ve already read the title. John Waters, filmmaker, actor, comedian, visual artist, journalist, art collector, provocateur—a man who has done it his way.

Waters was born in Baltimore, a city he has been fiercely loyal to (he still spends most of his time there) and where all of his films are set. When he was a boy he met Glenn Milstead, who became his friend, his muse, and ultimately, Divine, who would go on to star in some of his most notorious, boundary pushing films (as well as his crossover hits like Hairspray). He staged puppet shows as a child, and eventually, for his 16th birthday, received  an 8mm camera from his grandmother. Waters eventually ended at NYU, where he was promptly kicked out for smoking marijuana.

He returned to Baltimore and made films, eventually, along with Divine, establishing a group of local actors known as the Dreamlanders. Waters made three films in the early-to-mid 70s which he called his “trash trilogy,” Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living. These films challenged almost every convention of propriety, taste, and censorship you could imagine. Yet the trilogy is not some bizarre celluloid collection of one person’s out of control ID—they’re beloved films, cult classics, inspiring countless young filmmakers.

Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living are monuments of filth, perversion, and bravado. They became cult classics. In Pink Flamingos, Divine will stop at nothing to preserve her status as “the filthiest person alive” (so named by a tabloid paper in the film). The lengths she goes to retain this title have to be seen to be believed. The only pink flamingos to be seen in the film are in the opening credits. Now, you can’t think of the plastic lawn ornaments without thinking of Waters or his film. After Pink Flamingos came out, the flamingos began going from the lawns of small, working class homes to ironic statements on the grounds of upper-class manses—the Smithsonian Magaizne even wrote a piece about it.

New Line Cinema picked up Waters’ trash trilogy for distribution, and eventually he was premiering his work at the Baltimore Senator Theater and occasionally the Charles Theater. Starting in the 1980s, Waters films began to be seen by a wider audience as they took on more of a mainstream appeal (but mainstream Waters’ way). Polyester, Hairspray, and Cry-Baby enjoyed more exposure than he had ever received before. Hairspay has since gone on to become a hit Broadway musical (it swept the 2003 Tony Awards), with the musical itself being adapted for the screen in 2007. Cry-Baby, which was a musical in the first place (and starred Johnny Depp) was later converted into a Broadway musical.

In addition to his contribution to the film industry, Waters has authored nine books and is an acclaimed photographer.  His lifelong love of subversive art led to a major retrospective exhibition Indecent Exposure, launched this year in his hometown of Baltimore featuring over 160 artworks riffing on the ways mass media and celebrity embody cultural attitudes, moral codes and shared tragedy.

In Conversation: John Waters The Pope of Trash on Anna Wintour, staying youthful, and why Trump ruined camp

Friday 28th June, 2019

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