John Waters is reknowned for appearing in documentaries about all kinds of topics. This list is by no means exhaustive, but aims to give you a starting point for some highlights.
Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea
Directed by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer,narrated by John Waters
This lovable film gets friendly with the natives of the Salton Sea, an inland ocean with massive fish kills, rotting resorts, and 120 degree nights located just minutes from urban Southern California. This award-winning film details the rise and fall of the sea, from its heyday as the "California Riviera" to its present state as a decaying, forgotten ecological disaster.
Crisply and hilariously narrated by our own John Waters, Plagues melds high camp with stark realism, offering both a sobering message about the consequences oftampering with nature and a heart-warming tale of individualism.
That Man: Peter Berlin
Directed by Jim Tushinski
Peter Buriancame to the US as a young man and ended up in 70s San Francisco. As gay clones took over the streets of mecca, he developed the Peter Berlin character, which consisted primarily of walking the streets alone in hyper sexualized clothes that would accentuate his natural physique. He starred in two legendary porn flicks, That Boy and Nights in Black Leather. But he primarily became known due to his exhibitionism.
Jim Tushinski directs with a loving touch, using lots of photos by Peter, and film footagte from the 70s and 80s. John Waters is interviewed, as are Rick Castro, Armistead Maupin, Wakefield Poole, Jack Wrangler and lots of other queer legends.
Directed by David Weissman and Bill Weber
The Cockettes were something to see. And so is this charming documentary. With thrift store costumes, plenty of LSD, and genderfuck attitude, this crazy troop of stoned performers in San Francisco became tremendously popular by staging haphazard musical shows.
Divine, already established as the star of John Waters' underground films, was invited out to join them, and in fact performed with them a few times. In addition to Divine, Cockettes gave drag legend Sylvester his start on the stage. The doc has lots of interviews with original Cockettes, amazing archival footage, and reflections from John Waters too, who glows when he talks about this unique time in underground entertainment.
Pie In The Sky
Directed by Shelly Dunn Fremont and Vincent Fremont
This documentary tells the fascinating story of one of Warhol's overlooked Superstars - Brigid Polk a/k/a Brigid Berlin. John talks about his personal obsession with Brigid in the film, and his pal Patty Hearst discusses her rather unusual family connection to the neurotic, weight-obsessed debutante turned art world-shocker.
It Came From Kuchar
Directed by Jennifer Kroot
The Kuchar Brothers, George and Mike, are legendary among fans of underground films. They have made countless movies starring unknowns, made for little-to-no money. This charming 2009 documentary includes commentary by John Waters who discussed their influence on him at an early age.
Of Dolls and Murders
Directed by Susan Marks, narrated by John Waters
In the 1930s and 1940s, heiress Frances Glessner Lee created dollhouse crime scenes to help train detectives in the art of reading crime scenes. The film follows how these intricate dioramas are still used to train homicide detectives, despite all the technological advances in death investigation. In a further exploration of morbid curiosity, the filmmakers also shadow a Baltimore homicide detective, and visit The Body Farm, a famous forensic anthropology site in Tennessee where researchers study the decay of bodies. The film is narrated by John Waters in his most spooky timbre.
Tab Hunter Confidential
Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz
We all know Tab Hunter from his star turn in John Waters' Polyester, and his co-starring role with Divine in Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust. This doc explores his history as a teen hearthrob in the celluloid closet. Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz who also made the doc I Am Divine, the film includes extensive commentary from John Waters, and other friends and colleagues of Hunter: Debbie Reynolds, Lanie Kazan, George Takei, Clint Eastwood and Robert Osbourne to name just a few!
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