By Nigel J. Covington, III
<NationalReport> One of the world’s greatest filmmakers John Waters was found dead in his home early this morning by his domestic staff. Authorities believe Waters died of natural causes but are awaiting autopsy results.
Waters began his entertainment career at age seven when he performed violent versions of Punch and Judy at children’s birthday parties. Though it was suspected that Waters may have had a serious physiological disorder, such things simply were not talked about in those days.
After attending Towsontown Jr. High School in Towson, Maryland, Waters was privately educated at the Calvert School in Baltimore, Calvert Hall College High School in nearby Towson, and ultimately graduating from Boys’ Latin School of Maryland. For his sixteenth birthday, Waters received an 8mm movie camera from his maternal grandmother, Stella Whitaker, which in effect launched the filmmaker’s career.
His first film, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket (1964) filmed in Baltimore, Maryland, starring Mona Montgomery and Mary Vivian Pearce was a short film that pushed racial boundaries in America at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
The film plot depicted a black man and a white girl (Mona Montgomery) who are wed on a rooftop. He courts her by carrying her around in a trash can and chooses a Ku Klux Klansman to perform the wedding.
Known as the “King of Bad Taste,” the “Pope of Trash,” and the “Prince of Puke,” Waters’ films grew in reputation for shocking his audiences with extraordinary scenes of foul and offensive footage. In his classic family movie, Pink Flamingos (1972) a transgressive black comedy exploitation film, conservatives and God fearing Christians were outraged due to the wide range of perverse acts performed in explicit detail. It has since become one of the most notorious films ever made.
It made an underground star of the flamboyant drag queen actor, Divine. Since its release, Pink Flamingos has had a rather devoted cult following and is one of Waters’ most iconic films. Of the long running success of Pink Flamingos, Waters said, “I don’t think it’s my best movie, but God knows the day I die it will be in the first paragraph of my obituary. It helped make trash more respectable. It lasted longer than I ever would have imagined. I still meet young kids who have just seen it and they react with the same disbelief that people did the first time.”
The writer, director, and actor began making feature films in 1969 with his first big success, Mondo Trasho. Divine, a regular star in many of Waters’ films starred as a hit-and-run driver who looks after her dead victim. Waters was arrested on the eve of its premiere and charged with “conspiracy to commit indecent exposure.”
Other classic Water’s film include, Multiple Maniacs (1970), Female Trouble (1974). Waters toned down the shock factor and made films less controversial when he crossed over to mainstream films such as, Polyester (1981), Hairspray (1988), Cry-Baby (1990), Serial Mom (1994), Pecker (1998), Cecil B. Demented (2000), and A Dirty Shame (2004).
Unfortunately none of these mainstream films has the true John Waters sandy grit and sleaze that is seen in his early films. Water’s early movies are well known for having offended, disgusted, and violated the ears and eyes of conservative, Christian Americans from coast to coast which was Waters particular signature trademark in his early films, and is now likely outlawed which goes a long way to explain his mainstream works.
No one can do what Waters has done today. Now laws are in place to protect the general public and the innocent impressionable eyes of America’s pure and virtuous teens from the purity of Waters’ trash. John Waters will be remembered as the world’s greatest cult filmmaker and he will forever hold a place in my heart. The world has lost a great man who put his garbage on film for all to see, and Satan has gained an esteemed colleague. Rest in peace John.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
By John_Waters_at_EIFF.jpg: Al from Edinburgh, Scotland derivative work: Entheta (John_Waters_at_EIFF.jpg) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons