Director divine in Akron

“When cult film director John Waters walked onstage at E.J. Thomas Hall Tuesday night, he was flanked on either side by angels and demons, many of them dressed in drag. This is my vaudeville act, said Waters, who is well-accustomed to working with extremes.”

When cult film director John Waters walked onstage at E.J. Thomas Hall Tuesday night, he was flanked on either side by angels and demons, many of them dressed in drag.

This is my vaudeville act, said Waters, who is well-accustomed to working with extremes.

His lecture, Between Heaven and Hell, was part of the E.J. Thomas Hall forum series. His speech touched on his early influences as a film director, his opinions of art, education and most things in between.

Though he has recently achieved mainstream success with the remaking of Hairspray and a stage adaptation of Cry-Baby, Waters is still adored by many for his cult classics, like Pink Flamingos and Desperate Living.

A famous scene in Pink Flamingos helps to explain the quieter, racier side of Waters’s fame. Divine, a drag queen who appeared in many of Waters’s movies, eats fresh dog feces. And enjoys it.

According to Waters, he strives for complete anarchy in his films. The dog feces scene, he’s fairly certain, achieves it.

I’m not a sadist; it was just one take, Waters said. It’s about limits.

A performer backstage, dressed as a demon, spoke of his admiration for Waters. He made it OK for me to be a sick fag, Jimmy Lewis, a UA alum said.

Waters talked about the importance of supporting the arts, as well as his own artistic tastes. When I was young, art meant dirty, but that’s the way it should stay, Waters said.

As to the state of public funding for the arts, Waters suggested inviting only wealthy people to art shows. After letting them in free of charge, they would have to pay in order to leave.

Waters had another idea that would help garner public support of the arts.

Porn is art now. Have architect students design masturbation booths for this theater, he said.

The idea for masturbation booths is not far from some of the film director’s earlier ideas.

When he was younger and played make believe games, he liked to pretend that he owned an X-rated movie theater.

His love of dirty theaters eventually led to his desire to make movies. His first movie, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, was filmed on the roof of his parent’s house.

The movie is about a black woman and a white man being married by a Ku Klux Klan member.

After that, the movies only got stranger and stranger. Waters claimed that, eventually, someone told him, You must have been on drugs when you made those movies…Well, we were, he said.

Recently, television stations have started showing Pink Flamingos, but Waters claims to have little use for a television, aside from the obvious.

Television is for porno and war, he said.

Waters’s last movie, A Dirty Shame was given an NC-17 rating.

It was deemed objectionable by the Catholic Church. The NC-17 rating makes it nearly impossible to rent the movie from a video store.

To overcome this, and to force movie rental stores to carry NC-17 movies, Waters suggests that patrons sneak pornographic movies onto the shelves.

Soon, the businesses will decide to carry them anyway.

However, even though his last movie didn’t do as well as he had hoped for, he’s certainly taking everything in stride.

I’m not angry. A 60-year-old angry man is an asshole.