While these days John Waters is famous simply for being himself, the filmmaker (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) is hardly one to rest on his laurels. He recently guested on NBC's My Name Is Earl, and last week saw his debut as the sardonic host of Court TV's new series 'Til Death Do Us Part. Between rubbing celebrity elbows at Vanity Fair's Oscar party and dreaming up a new film ("a terribly wonderful children's Christmas adventure called Fruitcake"), Waters finds time to bring his comic monologue to Pittsburgh. He recently spoke with CP from his hometown of Baltimore.
Your career spans four decades, and a variety of activities. Does your monologue have a focus?
I talk about all my influences, my career, my movies -- about crime, fashion, movie stars and how to be a juvenile delinquent.
And I bet you talk about your new TV show, where every marriage ends in murder.
I play the "Groom Reaper." I'm kind of a time-traveler who looks in the camera and talks to the audience. Either the bride or groom are eventually gonna kill one another. I'm the enabler; I show you where to look.
So you're giving the viewer permission to laugh at domestic homicide?
I think I am, because I'm making wisecracks. And I wear an ascot in the show -- I figured since I won the Tony, I'm allowed to. The last time I wore an ascot was in seventh grade and I got beaten up -- and I should have, that's a life lesson.
The stories on the show are all true, but very run-of-the-mill. That's good, because the viewers themselves might have wanted to kill their spouses, and can relate. Even marriages that go great, once in a while, you wanna kill the other one. You just don't do it.
There's so much paperwork afterward.
There was one ad campaign for the show that said, "Stay Single and Stay Alive," which I think is true. Basically if you're a single person, you get to read more and you don't get murdered by your spouse.
Do you watch much television?
Not much. The only thing I just turn on is Court TV, because it always has some hideous story I love to watch. That's a real soap opera. I don't watch videos either -- though I do use the TV for pornography. That's one great thing about being famous: I get free porn all the time. I watch it because I like to talk about it, say nice things -- to earn it, so they'll send me more.
Free porn for life. I think I just got that e-mail.
Yeah, but I've got it for real. I got two pornos just today.
You're a pop-culture elder now, yet still popular with younger people. What helps hook the kids today?
They're looking in their own generation to find out what's gonna be the next thing that causes a sensation, and recently nothing has. I think Tarnation was the last great underground young people's movie. And Jackass -- which I was in.
Oh sure, you made Wee Man disappear.
That was quite a day. It was like being in an Ed Wood movie. Johnny [Knoxville] picks you up in the car, lunch at McDonald's. ... I'm in love with all of them [from Jackass]. They're my type. They're straight, but crazy.
Here's a group of white boys: Their audience would be blue-collar, heterosexual teen-age boys. So what do they do? They're nude in the whole thing and shove things up their ass! It's amazing -- and the number-one movie in America. It's homo-erotic, but they get away with it because it's anarchy. There's a great spirit to it. And it makes adults very nervous, which is a key to early success.
John Waters. 7 p.m. Sun., March 25 (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). McConomy Auditorium, Carnegie Mellon University campus, Oakland. $3; free with CMU student ID. Tickets available at CMU Info Desk. 412-268-2107