When I was a Long Island high school girl, the druggie kids, that wilted in back of the gym, enthused about Frank Zappa, The Stones, Hendrix, John Waters and Pink Flamingos. They whispered about Water's gross-out cult film that was traveling across campuses faster than streaking and beer-fueled free love. I wasn't doing sex, drugs or rock 'n roll so I didn't hear, see, or know what they were talking about. I was taking my PSATs. What did I know about the weirder side? I read Jane Austen and drew medieval style manuscript pages. Men in dresses? Queer men? Put it this way, I had a crush on a gay kid and hadn't yet figured out why he didn't want to kiss me.
A little time goes by. And there I am sitting in Bryant Park, ready for John Waters to totally SHOCK me. What I didn't expect was for him to utterly charm me. He was hawking his new book, Role Models, just out from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. Paul Holdengräber posed as Water's shrink and conducted the interview with musical asides and witty sparring. John Waters was brilliant about his creative process, the choices he has made in life and friendships, and his pandering of his quirks, from sartorial punk elegance to truly odd sections of his 8,000 volume personal library. The book is an exploration of people who inspire him. I drew and wrote... and waited on line (thanks to Flash Rosenberg and Len Steinbach urging me to go ahead) to get his autograph on book and my sketch. He actually put on his glasses to see my drawing. I did draw the mic with a bit of creative license. My friends just sort of sighed when they saw what I'd done. Even Waters gave a thin dyspeptic smile. Why is it when I try to get a bit shocking all it elicits is eye-rolling? Ah well, maybe society gives only a few permission to be outrageous and the rest of us--we only achieve a whimper of outré.