Waters: It’s camp! The tragically ludicrous? The ludicrously tragic?
Homer: Oh, yeah! Like when a clown dies.
Waters: Well, sort of.
Camp filmmaking essentially involves treating relatively stupid, tasteless ideas with the same sort of ingenuity and creative reverence typically reserved for so-called “fine film.” This is Waters’ stock in trade, so much so that it is somewhat baffling to be a fan today knowing that his classic “Hairspray” was adapted for film and theater musical treatments. What’s not so baffling is the filmmaker’s recent revelation that he’s gearing up to call it quits.
“I want to do two more movies — that’s enough,” the 63 year old director/writer/actor said. “I hope I can make two more.”
One of those two will presumably be the long-in-planning children’s movie “Fruitcake.” This is surprising, considering that there are works contained within Waters’ oeuvre featuring scenes of dog feces being consumed (by Divine in “Pink Flamingos”) and graphic descriptions/illustrations of the practice of teabagging (“Pecker”). I’m a pretty open-minded guy, but even I would have to pre-screen “Fruitcake” before exposing any children to it.
The story follows a young man named Fruitcake — after his favorite dessert — who runs away from home after being caught shoplifting meat. In the course of his travels, Fruitcake meets up with a young girl and fellow runaway. The new companion was raised by two gay men and is now traveling in search of her birth mother. So… uhhhh… yeah. Children.
It’s surprising to learn that Waters is ready to move on. He’s the sort of auteur whom I would have imagined would keep plying his craft until old age and infirmity demanded otherwise. Maybe that’s what’s going on here, but 63 is hardly “old” by today’s standards. I, for one, will be sorry to see Waters call it quits.
What is your favorite John Waters movie? Have you ever been able to check out his earliest, hard-to-find efforts, “Mondo Trasho” and “Multiple Maniacs”? How about later, more well-known works like “Hairspray,” “Serial Mom” or “Cry-Baby”?