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Culture

John Waters: “There is no such thing as a counterculture”

Outsiders, insiders and stalking. Hitch a ride with cult filmmaker John Waters… if you dare


You have been called many things… Pope of Trash… Prince of Puke… How do you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a writer that hopes to take you into my world and help you feel a little safer.

How, by showing people some of the most shocking things they are ever likely to see, do you make them feel safer?

Because I’m the guide. I haven’t changed, society has. It’s the same reason people blurt out things to me on aeroplanes. They confide because they think, “Oh, he’ll understand”. And I will!

You haven’t made a film for a few years. Is there a place in the industry for cult filmmakers?


The worst thing you can do is make a cult movie. That means you got three great reviews and nobody went. An art film means it got a lot of good reviews and nobody went. There is no such thing as a counter culture now. What used to be considered that is commercial now.

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Who are the outsiders today?


Everyone wants to be called an outsider so I’m a proud insider. If I was young I’d be in my parents’ house shutting down the government on my computer. The new delinquent is the hacker. There’s just no fashion – what is a hacker look? Poor posture?

You are not on Twitter but your moustache has an account.


If my moustache has its own Twitter account so be it. I don’t have one because A) if I’m going to write clever things I want to put them in a book so I get paid and B) I have friends, I’m not looking for new ones.

At what point do you decide you have enough friends?


I want to be harder to reach, not easier. I understand why people want to look up their friends – usually they want to see what people they’ve wanted to have sex with look like now – but hey, anyone from my past I’m interested in, I’ve already stalked their homes. I like to go outside.

You took that to the extreme recently, hitchhiking from your home in Baltimore to your apartment in San Francisco. Why hitchhike?


To see if I could do it, to give myself a dare, to get more street cred. My friends were horrified at the idea but nothing happened that was extreme as the best and worst case scenarios I had thought about.

You sound disappointed.


I was amazed that as far as I know no gay people picked me up. But I always prefer people with confused dicks anyway.

Is hitchhiking something you’ve always done?


I hitchhiked at high school. My parents thought was a perfectly normal thing to do even though God knows I got blown a lot of times riding home from school. Anyone who has hitchhiked has been approached. You say yes or no depending on your taste and the people and the weather and whether you had homework. I’m talking high school not grade school. I’m talking almost legal.

Despite this, hitchhiking is not as popular as it used to be. What changed?


Terrible things always seemed to happen to hitchhikers in movies – including my own. It has always been glamorous and dangerous and scary and sexy. Now it can be green too. I used to take friends on hitchhiking dates.

Yes, in your book you write about a driver who picked you up and recognised your companion as Patty Hearst.


“He made me do it,” she deadpanned. I knew Patricia was funny. She doesn’t think what happened to her was funny but sometimes when terrible things happen you don’t have much of a choice than to laugh.

Carsick by John Waters is out now

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