John Waters biography
Date of Birth: April 22, 1946
With nicknames like the Pope of Trash and the Prince of Puke, you know director John Waters isn't making any Disney films in the near future. As a child, he was fascinated by violence and gore, and would go to the local scrap yard to look at wrecked cars and fantasize about lethal car crashes. One of his favorite memories was seeing real blood on the seat of one of the cars.
Growing up in Baltimore, Waters also satiated his base desires at the movies. But it wasn't enough - he wanted to be a part of the scene and began by making first making short 8mm films, then progressing to 16mm. Not content to merely share his films with family and friends, he rented halls to screen them for the public. His first full length film, Mondo Trasho (1969), featured chickens being killed onscreen and a naked hitchhiker. Waters, who didn't have a permit to film nudity in public, was charged with "conspiracy to commit indecent exposure," after he was caught (he ran off when the police arrived). Waters' second full length film, Multiple Maniacs (1969), was influenced by the Manson Family murders. It featured a band of sideshow freaks who traveled from town to town robbing and murdering the wealthy.
Waters reached new heights of perversion with Pink Flamingos (1972). Featured in the film is a dog eating excrement, full frontal male and female nudity and sex with a live chicken (resulting in her death). Most of his films starred female impersonator Divine. Hairspray (1988) was the most commercial of Waters' films to date, featuring an overweight teenager (Divine played her mother) in the 1960s who wants to be a star. The film made Ricki Lake (as teenager Tracy Turnblad) an overnight success and the film was later turned into a hit Broadway musical. It was also the first of Waters' films to be nominated for awards. Though it didn't win, it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and six Independent Spirit Awards.
Unfortunately for Waters, the grossly overweight Divine died of a heart attack just after the premiere of Hairspray, so the director had to look elsewhere when casting his next movie. He was able to entice Johnny Depp to star as a dreamboat delinquent in Cry-Baby (1990) alongside former porn actress Traci Lords. Made on an $11 million budget, it grossed just over $8 million in the States. Next, Waters managed to get Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston to star in his next film, Serial Mom (1994), about a serial killer mother. This film also lost money, grossing even less than his previous one.
Pecker (1998), starring Edward Furlong and Christina Ricci, brought in just over $2 million at the box office. Undaunted, Waters released Cecil B. DeMented (2000), starring Melanie Griffith. Made on a budget of $10 million, it brought in just over $1 million at the box office. But hey, it received a nomination - Griffith received a Worst Actress nomination at the Razzie Awards.
A Dirty Shame (2004) featured Tracey Ullman as a woman who becomes a sex addict after suffering a concussion. It debuted at the Toronto Film Festival to mostly negative reviews, including one by Toronto reviewer Kim Linekin that called it "tedious, repetitive" and "groaningly unfunny."
John Waters Filmography