He's not that filthy
"The Pope of Trash" John Waters charms audience at DiverseWorks fundraiser
John Waters has a reputation for being really scandalous, but in person, he comes across as a nice, rather quiet man with a sardonic sense of humor. Before the performance of his one-man show,This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier, Wednesday night as a fundraiser for DiverseWorks, he easily mingled with a small group of the alternative artspace's supporters, who had paid big bucks to dine with him.
He admired a shrine in his honor, with candles, photographs and TV sets featuring images of some of his more outrageous movies, like Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos, with the sound turned down. "You don't have to hear the dialogue. That's great," he said in his deadpan manner.
Waters didn't seem nervous about peforming later that night before an intimate audience in the 98-seat DiverseWorks theater, noting that he had performed his one-man show 27 times in four countries in the month of November alone and four times already this week. He has appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London and before inmates in U.S. prisons. "I can play to any crowd," he said.
"I need to tell stories," Waters said. "It's just a different way to tell stories."
Around 40 Houstonians joined Waters at tables set out like a long cross, covered with black tableclothes and wine and liquor bottles topped with dripping candles interspersed with flickering candles of the Virgin de Guadelupe.
They dined on what was billed as "The Pope of Trash's Last 'Extra Fancy' Suburban Supper," featuring an iceberg wedge in a Tupperware container and Salisbury steak, glazed carrots, cheese macaroni and green bean casserole served in a microwaveable TV dinner tray. The dinner was catered by Beaver's.
William Betts, Bill Arning and Mark McCray, Kellye Sanford and Fritz Lanham, Don Mafrige Jr., Emily Todd, Mike Loya, Robert McClain, Lynn Goode, Shannon Hall, Tim Moloney,Nina and Michael Zilkha and Waters' close friends Judith and Robert Pringle were among the diners. Afer a dessert of homemade ice cream sandwiches, everyone decamped to the theater in the next room for Waters' show.
Before it began, DiverseWorks new executive director Elizabeth Dunbar welcomed the crowd and noted that, in her first two months on the job, she has learned how beloved DiverseWorks is in the Houston art community because it is committed to showcasing cutting-edge work and pushing the boundaries.
She noted that it seems apropos for Waters to perform at DiverseWorks, which will soon be celebrating its 30th anniversary, because "he's an icon known for risk-taking, cutting-edge work and known for pushing the limits."
In his show, Waters described forms of sexual satisfaction we suspect not everyone in the audience was familiar with but that some probably knew too well.
Standing before the audience and talking non-stop without notes for more than an hour, the 65-year-old director, author and artist (his art show opens at McClain Gallery Thursday night) discussed lowlights of his film career as a director and gave opinions on everything from Justin Bieber to "bears" (gay hairy men) to child rearing. "Wouldn't you rather your kid be a drug dealer than a drug addict?" he asked.
He also described forms of sexual satisfaction we suspect not everyone in the audience was familiar with but that some probably knew too well.
His special brand of humor was well-received, as the audience howled throughout the show and gave Waters an extensive ovation at the end.
During a question and answer session, Waters turned serious for a moment when he talked about what has motivated him throughout his career. "I need to tell stories," he said. "It's just a different way to tell stories."