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John Waters: 50 Years of Filth Elder Status

John Waters in caricature

John Waters has dutifully been living up to his reputation as the "Pope of Trash," the "Prince of Puke" and the "King of Bad Taste," titles he earned for his early cult films-Pink Flamingos (1972), most notoriously, which depicts the "filthiest people alive."

The 69-year-old filmmaker proudly dons his low-brow laurels, but he isn't resting on them. Mr. Waters has parlayed his underground filmmaking career into a successful Hollywood tenure, making hits like Hairspray, Crybaby, and Serial Mom, without sacrificing his colorful style or subversive humor.

Among other pursuits like visual art and fashion, Mr. Waters has forged a successful publishing career. His 2011 bestseller, Role Models, is a paean to his personal heroes, which range from Baltimore street-life legends to high-profile felon Leslie van Houten (of Manson family fame) to the shockingly inoffensive-pop vocalist Johnny Mathis.

To stay gritty in the face of advancing age and mainstream respectability, John Waters thumbed his way across the country for a series of roadside misadventures. His coast-to-coast hitchhiking trip was the research component for his 2015 bestseller, Carsick, which is part-travelogue/part-tall tale about his interstate lark.

The Film Society at Lincoln Center recently honored John Waters with a career retrospective titled "Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?"

Screenwriter, director, artist, author, comedian, fashion icon and self-designated "filth elder," John Waters is many things. Chief among them, he is a world-class storyteller.

In advance of his appearance at IU Cinema on October 2, 2015, John Waters spoke to WFIU's Betsy Shepherd about his movies, books, and unlikely friendships (among other things...sadistic nuns, dangerous drag queens, Divine's nerdy side, Maybelline cosmetics, the Dreamlanders' cult and general filth.)

Here the hour-long interview in full here.

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