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The real deal from Dundalk!

I was at the very first showing of John Waters' poodle poop munching and side-splittingly hilarious cinematic masterpiece Pink Flamingos. It was shown in a mid-sized and rather comfy auditorium at the Maryland Institute of Art on Mount Royal Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland.



At the time, 1972, it was several months after my stint in the U.S. Army as a Public Information Office photographer on Okinawa. I had experienced many wild and crazy happenings on Okinawa - with a lotta hip and funny friends and acquaintances from all over America, which had set my 21-yr-old mind up real well for the off-beat cinematography, the right-on-time (as we Hippies used to say) screen writing and filthy, avant garde humor of Pink Flamingos.

I only attended the premiere of Pink Flamingos because my girlfriend at the time, Johanna, had close friends who knew some people real well who had filmed a movie in and around Baltimore. And it was the first movie I ever knew of being made in my hometown of Mobtown.

During the 1966 era, I was a Rock 'n Roll kid from the Dundalk suburbs of Baltimore who had spent a lot of time hanging out with other teenagers in Downtown Baltimore's Howard St. Corridor and on up into the Beatniks'/Mods'/Hippies' long time fave the Read St./Tyson St. neighborhood. That Baltimore was a fantastic place in time to shop, eat, hangout in Mount Vernon Park, happily walk the busy main streets and side streets and further off to the side streets and interesting alleys and safe sidewalks there, whilst marveling at the fantastic old architecture all around. That was also where some of the movie Pink Flamingos was filmed, because the film crew were mostly a solid group of Avant Garde Baltimore Hipsters.

In 1972, my old girlfriend Johanna and I each lived out in the suburbs of Baltimore, and we had driven together to her friends' apartment up in downtown Baltimore - to go to the show with them. They lived in one of those huge, old, wearing down, Baltimore apartment houses that have wide, deep and welcoming front porches with ornate antique doors that have beautiful stained glass transoms over top of them. Johanna and I steadily admired the old time craftsmen crafted woodwork of the front porch, staircases, wall trim and floors in that place. The friends' apartment had high ceilings and bright lighting. It was furnished in the style of young working people who know how to spend their wages wisely on really cool stuff.

It was a very cool surprise to discover that one of Johanna's friends was an old friend of mine - Mike - from them '66 era Mod days in Baltimore. Mike had sold me my first bag of marygeewanner - right underneath the tall and mighty Washington Monument on Charles St.. That first pot purchase of mine had been a scrawny little nickel bag that was cut (adulterated) with bird seeds and oregano. This was so early in the late 1960s pot smoking revolution that we Baltimore boys and girls didn't hardly have an idea of what pot is. 1960s Maryland was way behind California in all things hip and happening.

On that Pink Flamingo Premier evening, in 1972, at Mike and friends' apartment, they showed me a nice little pile of mild mannered Mexican Marijuana setting on their grand old, thrift shop purchased, big heavy dark wooden, antique dinning room table. Then they happily informed me that we could smoke some weed at the movie showing; and then one of Mike's roommates inquires about my joint rolling skills. One of my Army buddies, Bart from Frisco, had grown up two blocks from the infamous Haight-Ashbury - he used to sometimes hear outdoor Grateful Dead Concerts from his family's front porch - consequently he knew the very best techniques for rolling a good smoking joint and had taught me how to, too. So's, I sat right down at that big old friendly dining room table - with smiling faces all around me - and we two new friends rolled some up for smoking then and some for movietime.

All of a sudden, I realized that if we could smoke weed there, can we drink beer there also?, so I asked; and someone replied, with a huge smile, "Sure," so I declared I'd buy enough cold beer for us all to comfortably fortify our reefer buzz with a beer buzz. Pot and beer consumption was common practice amongst young Americans of the 1970s. Most of us survivors of them '70s party-hearty days gave that practice up a long time ago, though.

Anyways, we left that apartment with a pleasant buzz on and headed for the closest place to buy beer, then we went to the Art Institute. We sat in the college auditorium at stage left about in the middle of the fold down, padded seating on that side. The movie crew and their attending family and friends were gleefully ensconced over in the seating to the right. My guess has always been that there were fewer than 80 of us there that night.

John Waters wore a frumpled, white jump suit, and it was the thing to do at the moment. He looked absolutely marvelous, with the self assured, young, ahead of his time, struggling movie maker way he moved around in that jump suit. That frumpled-just-right-for-avant-garde-fashion-tastes jumpsuit on John just fit the scene perfectly.

The lights went down, the movie began, I handed someone close to me a joint to light, another joint was lit behind me, beer can pop tops hissed open, and what a wild night-of-a-lifetime that became. It weren't but a few minutes till the laughs started rolling all up and down and sideways back and forth through the audience. The humor got filthier and more hilarious while the laughter grew heavier and more rib-racking-gut-busting-side splitting-debilitating with every well conceived, well written and daringly delivered punch line in the movie plot. T'weren't long before several of us actually slid sideways out of our movie seats, a time or two, and fell on the floor laughing. Not one person there could sit up straight in their seat for more than a few seconds, tops. The audience literally rocked and rolled and roared with laughter the whole movie through. By the time Devine beats out green haired - the carpet matched the rug - Connie and Raymond Marble for the title of "The Filthiest Person Alive" - when Devine definitely did munch on fresh, steaming poodle poop, on the southeast corner of Read and Tyson Streets - most of us there had laughed harder and longer than we ever had in any of our hip, young lives. We were in serious, but welcomed, pain, too - our ribs ached.

I can never forget how Devine had looked up past the movie camera and at the crew (of his close friends) behind the camera, as he slowly knelt down and munched off a piece of that doggy doo. When the scene came on, while from within me and all around me there rose a rumbling chorus of titillating "Oh no, oh no"s, I very studiously watched and fully determined that the little ol' poodle had indeed pooped, and the camera had stayed on the dog, it's droppings and Devine for the entire scene; so there were no camera tricks pulled, no chocolate flavored mashed potatoes replaced the dog doo just before Devine tasted it; and I clearly saw that Devine was quickly thinking - something to the effect of - "Waters, one way or the other, someway somehow, you are going to pay dearly for this. I want more money, your gassed up car for a week, plenty of pot, bottles of my favorite booze, plus some good nasty sex with somebody on this crew, and I'm directing that scene in my life."

After the movie ended, John Waters went up onto the stage to thank his actors and the movie crew members for their hard work, plus us others in the audience for our part in assuring him he was on his way to fame and fortune through lots more hard work and badass-artistic-ballsyness.

John beckoned for Pink Flamingos movie star Edith the Egg Lady - shyly giggling, long time thrift store maven, Edith Massey - to come up on stage, and he presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Then I realized that Devine should have been asked up on stage to receive a bouquet too, but he was not in the audience over there with the other movie makers nor anywheres else, consequentially, I safely surmised right away why Devine probly didn't come to the premier - he was too embarrassed by the poodle poop incident.



I have not seen Pink Flamingos again, and I do not plan on seeing it again. That just seems farrrr tooo anticlimactic for my life. I mean, well now, seeing 1960s Baltimore stuff, the weird fashions the movie characters wore and hearing outlandish lines delivered throughout the story would be really good to enjoy today on clear sounding DVD; but the movie could never hit me like it did when Johanna, Mike, friends and I were hit with something near deadly hilarious that we had no idee' was comin' at us.

Writings and Photography by David Robert Crews {a.k.a. ursusdave}

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