If there's one thing John Waters has mastered, it's how to capture his audience's attention, both in his films and in person. At the Fitzgerald last night, he immediately connected with the crowd and never let up during his hilarious one-man show and a Q&A with The Current Fakebook host Mary Lucia.
When Waters first appeared onstage, he received one of those incredibly long applauses that verges on being uncomfortably long. His opening line? "Thank you. You make me feel like Johnny Mathis."
Waters then launched into his one-man show, This Filthy World. It's an autobiographical standup routine that he proclaims is not a lecture; it's vaudeville. After asking us to think of him as our "filthy elder," Waters proceeded to crack open the door to his unparalleled mind. He told stories of where he comes from (Maryland), how he learned to make movies on his first camera (an 8 mm), and shared behind-the-scenes anecdotes that added up to a chronological history of his films.
Colorful storyteller that he is, Waters also clued us in to some of his social and political musings. For instance, in order to make reading cool, he says if a person goes home with someone, and they have no books in their apartment, the person should abstain from having sex with them. (Of course, his version was a bit raunchier.)
Another idea of his to better the world: Make a New Year's resolution to only perform oral sex on teachers. In turn, the teachers will be happier and be better able to keep students from being bored. That way, kids won't grow up to kill us.
A risqué declaration for a wholesome Midwestern venue, but can you really argue with his logic?
Waters did tailor his address for his Twin Cities audience, saying we don't deserve a bad rap for hosting the Larry Craig incident at our airport. He also announced that on his way out of town today, he's arranged to have airport security show him the infamous stall.
His nonstop wit pummeled through four decades of filmmaking, from Mondo Trasho to Pink Flamingos to Hairspray (of which he said, "I accidentally made a family movie called Hairspray").
He interjected some humorous punches on hot-button issues:
On drugs: "Ecstasy [is] a drug that makes you love everyone. Sounds like hell to me."
On gays in the military: "I'm for an all-volunteer lesbian army . . . They could find Bin Laden."
On family: "Gay people have more children than Catholics . . . I'd be a good uncle—I'd get you an abortion, I'd get you out of jail . . . "
After his monologue, and a brief intermission with music from the God Damn Doo Wop Band, Waters and Lucia returned to the stage. Q&A sessions often circle back to running themes, and this one was no different in that there was quite a bit of discussion of mental health, in which Waters, fittingly, has a strong interest.
Waters' next film, he said, is a children's Christmas story called Fruitcake, starring Jackass's Johnny Knoxville as the father. From the man who brought dining on excrement to the big screen, I'd expect nothing less.