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John Waters in Interview @ C.Grimaldis Gallery
January 27, 2010 |

waters01RADAR REDUX contributor Peter Boyce asked John Waters for an interview during the opening of Waters’ current exhibition Versailles at C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore. John was kind enough to agree. To begin, Boyce commented that Waters seemed to “have one foot in and one foot out of the art world”, that his approach seemed half sincere and half self-consciously ironic:

John Waters: “The real one wasn’t actually like that (about the center piece of the exhibition “Study Art Sign”), but we did a replica. It said “Study art for profit or hobby” … that was serious, there was no angle in that, and it hung there for at least twenty, thirty years, on St. Paul street… I always remembered it, and I have pictures of it, so then we did it… there were five of ‘em, and each time I rewrote it. And it’s an equally bad thing that you shouldn’t really say about art. But it was based on a something with no irony, so two worlds? Yeah. I write everything, I think ‘em all up and then I do it. And sometimes it turns into something else. Like “The Bear”. None of those was really about gay bears. None of those things in the film was about that, so I’m trying to take images and change the meaning of it and give them a new narrative…

RR: Hey Cara! (artist Cara Ober comes up to Mr. Waters and RADAR REDUX contributor Peter Boyce—ED)

Cara Ober: You’re my favorite art critic! I love you!!

RR: Thank you!

CO: You’re awesome!

RR: Thank you! (back to John) Some of this stuff is like, so serious and almost academic, and very sincere.

JW: What’s so serious? I’d like to know which one you’re talking about.

RR: Well, academic… “John Jr.”

JW: Well, that’s me with a mustache going on in my childhood portrait….you look up, the mustache is going on, and in art history there’s really famous artists that just added the mustache, and it’s also framed in the same wood, so basically it’s what my parents wanted and what they got…

RR: And in the far corner, “Last Call”…

JW: Well it’s not serious– that could be two things: you’re either an alcoholic and every time you see a glass you’re like uhuhuhuh, or you like to drink– two different things.

RR: Well then the one to the right of it that’s like, John Travolta driving behind the wheel ..?

JW: That’s all describing scenes in movies where movie stars are drunk driving, and…and it’s called “DWI”. I took all the pictures, and I didn’t like them as much as describing what it was.

RR: Well then pure irony… maybe the bottle?

JW: Well, I like “RUSH®”.

RR: Yeah, I do too– beer and poppers!

JW: Well, so no irony– what’s ironic about that?

RR: You put it on a plinth.

When it came out the owner of the RUSH® Company gave me a lifetime supply of poppers! I could live to be ten thousand… I could live ’til the resurrection and have enough poppers.

RR: One more question– these works that rely on like, uh… things that only cinephiles only would get… I sense there’s something about these movies, like Melissa whatever…

JW: Well all that is, there’s no real movie she ever starred in. She could never get a movie financed, so that’s a fictitious credit. Never would Melissa Rivers have credit in a movie. There’s never been a movie made, so that’s fake. That’s sort of more a comment about the movie business.

RR: So there’s some research, some cinema research necessary?

JW: Well, not necessary– even if you don’t know one thing about that (“Swedish Film”), I think it looks nice– it’s a woman ripping her face off. It’s really a Bergman movie that Divine and I saw tripping, and it’s the scene that freaked Divine out. Other people have written about this piece and don’t know about it at all. There’s some personal stuff in this, but they’re moments taken from cinema and altered and changed and rewritten to my version.

RR: Well thanks so much for taking the time to talk!

JW: Sure, thank you– See ya!

John Waters
January 20 through February 27, 2010

C.Grimaldis Gallery
523 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-5065
(410) 539-1080Baltimore, MD 21201


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