“JOHN WATERS: THIS FILTHY WORLD”–a gay icon on stage


A Gay Icon on Stage

Amos Lassen

Everyone knows John Waters and this one man show is an inside look at him as we have seen him before—completely raw and uncut. “This Filthy World” (Red Envelope Entertainment) can be described as autobiographical stand-up comedy but in reality it is about the rise and fall of American cinema. He takes on a journey through his career in film and dishes about everything. Yet each little story has a deeper meaning, it is a dig at the hypocrisy of America and the film industry. He stats by giving us his list of obsessions, perverse as they are and continues discussing exploitation films, the state of couture, what is happening in the world of art and a whole lot more.
Waters’ movie history began in 1964 with mainly unseen “Hag in Black Jacket Leather’ to “A Dirty Shame” in 2004. He has always been a voice of opposition to Hollywood Cinema and has become the hero of independent movies.

If you thought that Waters is sick and out of his mind this movie will change your mind—his pure genius shines through his performance. Granted some of his routine is off the wall but there is a method in his madness and that message seems to be to be pure fun. During 90 minutes Waters talks about himself and his movies and he is comfortable on the stage and quite at home for his material. He gives us the inside dirt as he summarizes his career. His stories are wonderful whether he is talking about shoplifting or his own personal holy trinity. He talks of the strange things that he has been asked to autograph. But again this film doesn’t just entertain; it teaches.

Waters comes on stage as if he is entering a confessional. The set is decorated with shabby trashcans which are piled high with filled black plastic bags. His performance is in way a throwaway and it appears that his monologue is one he has been working on for years. He states that all young people need a role model and he says that is what he aspires to be—“filth elder”. He dwells on perversion and transgresses taboos.

He spends time talking about his muse, Divine. He tells how she really did what it looked like she did on screen in “Pink Flamingos” but he states that even Divine had limits and says, “The first time he met Richard Simmons, he felt homophobic.” Waters does not glorify himself, he pokes fun. It is a movie that rests on one man, John Waters, and he pulls it off and keeps us laughing. He completely wins over his audience and does it effortlessly, he des it by being John Waters.

The movie will be eaten up by Waters’ fan and will undoubtedly create a whole new fan base for him. As he talks to his audience (and the viewer), he is so charming that you can’t help but love him. When he focuses on the perversity of his own childhood and pet peeves, you see a real human with true feelings. His tales of what went on behind the scenes of his movies, he is outlandish and incredible.

If there is something to be learned from “This Filthy World” it is that it becomes clear what Waters makes the kinds of movies that he makes. Let’s hope that he will make many more.

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