John Waters, beloved Pope of Trash, never gives a bad interview. I think I could listen to him talk about anything (wigs, porn, how much he loved the movie Climax) for hours. There’s an especially good Q&A with the director over at Vulture that is full of gems, including the revelation that he wasn’t even invited to the Met’s corny Camp-themed gala this year. “Well, do you think Anna Wintour is that funny?” Waters says. “She’s an incredibly successful editor, but I’ve never heard her say anything that funny.”
He talks about gay bars closing, the ways in which phones have changed dating (“I realize now that if you went up to somebody after the bar is closed and said, ‘Hi, what are you doing?’ they’d call the police”), and the “outlaw” nature of going to gay clubs when he was younger, but, of course, because it’s Waters, he’s never overly nostalgic.
I never think what I did was better. That’s when you get old. They’re having just as much fun as I did. Things change, and they’re not going back. It’s a whole new world; it’s a lot easier. It’s just right there, whatever you want. It’s like shopping. That was shopping, too. You just did it a different way. Did we have more fun? I don’t know. The argument is sometimes that it was more fun when it was illegal to be gay, but I certainly don’t want it to be now. It’s just ‘cause I was young and it was more of an outlaw thing. Now, it’s really great that it isn’t.
And what exactly is the most terrifying thing to Waters? The “middle” space between his favorite extreme worlds, which is mostly malls.
Because they like to do things like go on mall walks and stuff. What would I do on a mall walk? I don’t even know what that is today. But I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people doing it and it’s very frightening to me. I was frightened when I went to Hudson Yards. It’s everything I came to New York to escape basically. It’s, like, a shopping mall. The whole thing is just like suburbia. In the middle of what used to be a great neighborhood for hookers. That to me is not progress, but I understand to most people it is. I’m not saying I don’t understand the other argument. It just doesn’t seem like New York to me.
In addition to his famous Christmas party (“People think it’s some celebrity party. It’s not. It’s my next-door neighbors that I’ve had in other places I’ve lived”) he also talks about his legendary poppers parties, which devolved into a nightmare one year:
I’ve seen Academy Award winners, A-list critics, all of ‘em doing poppers in my house. And then it became like Mother! because the Boston Globe wrote [about] them and the entire town crashed it. And I never had it again. But I had it for maybe eight years. It was just funny because a lot of people had never done them. And one buddy drank one. They don’t even know how to take ‘em right. It was a very low-rent drug for a high-class party, which made it kind of fun, just once a year. And it only lasts three minutes. And mostly just people were laughing. People weren’t having sex on it. We used to do poppers on the roller coaster at Coney Island, going up the hill, and in department stores. People would look at you like crazy when you’re like “Ahhhh” just for three minutes.
And I’ll probably be thinking about this quote from him about how to be in love for a long time.
It’s hard; it’s another job. I say in the book, you just have to tell people you love them in their sleep. That way you can’t be disappointed, and they do hear you. And it doesn’t demand an answer, which is always the problem with saying it.
You can read the full interview in its glorious entirety here.