“I hate to tell you, but your cat hates you,” John Waters said before a packed house at the Kessler Thursday night. That observation actually came pretty late during the festivities, which saw Waters — lanky in a mismatched madras-style plaid suit — riff nonstop for about 80 minutes before taking questions from the audience.
It was about the tamest observation Waters made, for whom the word “taboo” appears to have no meaning. In between war stories about the making of his dozen-plus films as a writer-director, from Mondo Trasho (made when he was just 23) to his last film, A Dirty Shame, which came out in 2004. He lamented that he was not molested by his grade-school priest (what does it say to a kid who is not attractive to a pedophile?), expressed pleasure that Casey Anthony was acquitted (“I just wanted to see Nancy Grace’s head explode”) and offered suggestions about how to show appreciation (“If a friend gives you a book by your favorite author? Give him a rim job”).
For the most part, the eclectic crowd ate up the uber-gay standup set, where Waters opined about oddities of the sexual world. “Is it amazing that all gay men know what a bear is and no straight people do?” he asked. But even he exposed the audience to terms most had never heard before. (Example: “A blouse” = “a feminine top.” And don’t even ask what a “blossom” is.)
If you’re inclined to be offended by an unoffendable person, you’d best steer clear of Waters who, despite the wide-eyed enthusiasm of an ice cream truck salesman, shows a perverse interest in the unusual. “Trailers for summer movies aren’t coming attractions, they’re warnings,” he spat, lamenting that even indie films paled by comparison to the creativity of TV nowadays.
Peppered throughout were elegant but obscure pop culture references to, for instance, Fitzcarraldo, Diane Arbus and Joey Heatherton.
“Isn’t laughter the enemy of masturbation?” he noted. “Who laughs while masturbating except a schizophrenic?”
Maybe so. But laughter is certainly not the enemy of a John Waters audience. It’s its life-blood.