Sunday, October 14, 2012

Not Watered Down (Book Review: Role Models, John Waters)

Years ago, I was at the now-defunct Footlight Records on 12th Street, my home-away-from-home at the time, when film director John Waters walked in. "Is that..." I asked Arnold, one of the guys who worked there, and he quickly answered, "John Waters? yes, he comes here all the time. Would you like me to introduce you?" And before he could answer, he called him, and introduced me, and we shook hands. And he want back to perusing the "Soundtracks" section of the store. I am a fan of a lot of people, but don't consider myself one of his. I cannot say I have seen all of his movies, but I liked enough the ones I saw (Hairspray, Serial Mom) or the ones I remember anyway. So I read his book, "Role Models," with a fresh eye - I wanted to know more about him, as a person. The book is more a collection of essays, recollections of people he has met - most of them he admires in some way or another; all of them shape the person and artist that he is. I enjoyed reading about most of them - I am also a fan of Johnny Mathis, for example, and cherished reading the account of their meeting. Some of the other people he profiled are more obscure, and, frankly, new to me. My favorite sections were of the pornographers, especially Bobby Lopez, who filmed himself having sex with only Marines. Some essays were difficult to get through - a chapter on all the Commes de Garcon slothes he owns could be interminable for someone who doesn't care for fashion, never mind avante garde ones. Like Waters himself and his films, you have to share his enthusiasm for weird things to fully enjoy this book. 


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