Pride: an interview with John Waters
by Derek de Koff
John Waters, Baltimore's own Cocteau, recently had an art exhibit in which a work called "7 Marys" was hanging. It consisted of a vertical array of stills from six movies depicting various incarnations of the Virgin Mary and then at the bottom: Paul Lynde. There is no better explanation of the humor that John Waters has brought to the world. His movies have been banned, caused revulsion to those who deserve it, and have given the world the finest performances by his late friend and star, Divine. Never wanting to consider himself a "gay" director but never one to deny his orientation, we asked John Waters his opinions of gay life and Pride.
For better or worse, how would you say that gay life has changed within the last ten years?
Gay life has changed for the better because the new young queers don't base their entire identity on their sexuality. It's changed for the worse because AIDS basically ended "trade."
What do you predict it will be like in another ten or twenty years?
Someone is going to make a lot of money taking off all the tattoos of today's young studs. No matter how butch you are at twenty-five, a tattoo at fifty makes you look really worn-out.
What do you hope gay life will be like?
I hope no one's sexuality is any big deal in the future and that there will be no need for liberation movements - everybody will already be free.
What if anything, does Gay Pride mean to you?
Here's a true story that shows my idea of "gay pride." A guy in a dirty bookshop in San Francisco put his dick through a glory hole and somebody poured acid on it. "Help, my dick's on fire!" he screamed as he ran from the booth to the clerk, demanding water. "Sorry, we don't sell water - only Coca Cola," deadpanned the obviously unmoved clerk, who waited for the guy to pay for the Coke as his penis blistered. And you know what? As the victim fished a dollar out of his wallet and dumped the Coke on his dick, he actually chuckled. This is gay pride! If we can laugh at the worst things that happen to us because of our sexuality, we'll be the strongest minority of all, proud to be illegal, proud not to be like everybody else.
What would you imagine to be a better Gay Pride experience than floats, tourists, and T-shirts for sale?
Sex itself celebrated by all people without guilt, proud of their diversity.
If you could make your own float without any limitations, what would you have on it?
If I ever rode on a float, I'd get car-sick.
From Next Magazine, New York City - June 19, 1998.