I was an impressionable 19 year-old co-ed when I ventured without a clue into a cozy Provincetown theater where the world premiere of Pink Flamingoes was held. It started congenially enough, with drag queen roller skaters zooming about the stage in the preview performance as if to say “Still don’t know what GAY means?” Then came Divine in her person and the movie, which was certainly a far cry from “Fiddler on the Roof”, which was also making the rounds in US movie theaters at that time.
(SCATALOGICAL ALERT!) Dial forward decades later as I walked my poodle daily with the recurring vision of Divine dining on poodle droppings. Yes, that is the visual of the Pink Flamingoes movie finale and no small part of the early Waters career launch.
If that’s not enough of a reason for Baltimore native and cult hero John Waters to be dubbed “Pope of Trash” I don’t know what is. But I do know that there IS even more fodder in his decades of work as a filmmaker, author, photographer, performer, and ardent defender of free speech to deserve this moniker.
Water is perhaps more popularly known as the creator of award-winning musical “Hairspray”. That musical transformed Ricki Lake from an unknown to the talk show host of later years, Hairspray won a healthy share of Tony Awards. Later it was made into a movie blockbuster including Queen Latifah and John Travolta.
But Waters has a far edgier side and Hairspray is tame by the Waters standard.
For those who missed his one-man show in 2010, or the many other performances worldwide since the new millennium, this is a chance to catch Waters inimitable cultural commentary in the up close and personal performance space at Harris Theater.
Every performance is different and none of us really know what Waters will do on this one-night stand. We do know all human foibles and trash, in all its senses, are fair game in the universe Waters constructs for us with keen intelligence and wit. Sacred cows of the art world, Catholicism, and sexual behaviors are sure to be slaughtered.
When Waters started making his mark on our culture, or rather a subset of the counter culture, visions of gays in the military or gay marriage were confined to a few who were probably en route to asylums. That’s all a bit ho hum today—probably meaning that Waters on the edge this May 21 is farther out than even HE would have imagined when he first became a darling of American independent cinema in the 70s.
Come thick-skinned or thin-skinned—come to laugh.
Tickets to this one-night event ($55 - $75) will probably go quickly so hurry to make your reservations soon at www.harristheaterchicago.org, call the Box Office at 312 344 7777, or pick up tickets at the box office at 205 East Randolph Drive in Chicago.
There will be a special post-performance benefit reception ($100, including specialty cocktails) –limited to the first 100 takers—don’t dawdle if you want a taste of Waters even more up close and personal.
This Filthy World
Harris Theater Chicago, 205 East Randolph Drive
May 21, 2013 -- ONE NIGHT ONLY
Tickets: $55-$75; and $100 post-show reception
Box office: (312) 344 7777 or www.harristheaterchicago.org
Photos: Greg Gorman