Filmmaker John Waters takes to the Garde stage
John Waters has worn many hats - filmmaker, standup comedian, author, actor, journalist, conceptual artist - but living through Hurricane Sandy has spurred him to consider a new career.
"I want to be the Scare Weather Man," he says by phone from his home in Baltimore.
He was inspired by dire, ongoing weather reports over the course of Sandy that terrified local citizens - and then nothing happened.
"In Baltimore, it was a big bore," he says. "We sat here for two days with flashlight batteries and there was a little wind and rain and it was a bore - that's what it was."
The aggravation he felt, though, made him think.
"I want to be the most frightening weather man of all. Every night it will be something different."
He shifts into a dramatically grave announcer's voice: "'You and your family will die!' 'It's 70 degrees out but there's a one percent chance of the end of the world!' 'It's going to be so completely moderate today that you'll lose your mind!'"
Meteorological aspirations aside, Waters is well established as the Brujo of Bad Taste. His films include "Pink Flamingos," "Serial Mom," "Cecil B. Demented," "Hairspray" and "Cry Baby," the latter two of which have had hugely successful runs as Broadway productions.
On Friday, Waters brings his vaudeville-styled one-man show, "This Filthy World," to the Garde Arts Center in New London. The appearance benefits the local Alliance for Living foundation.
"This Filthy World" is a e'er-evolving spoken word presentation celebrating not just his films and the years spent languishing in what he describes as "appalling taste," but also early negative influences, true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy, art and literature, Catholicism, and sexual deviancy.
Fans might also expect him to discuss recent work on the other side of the camera. He portrayed Jesus in the 2011 film "Magnus" and, earlier this year, played the priest Father William in the horror film "Excision."
He notes that the theological tone of those roles, in conjunction with an earlier part as another priest in "Blood Feast 2," might indicate he's getting typecast.
"That doesn't bother me," he says, "though I do wish I'd consulted ('Passion of the Christ' director/weirdo) Mel Gibson before taking the role of Jesus."
Waters' explorations of bad taste seem an expanding and wonderful universe. In that context, is there an argument to be made that - in a sort of pop culture Butterfly Effect - Waters is ultimately responsible for the fatty buffet of queasy reality television where programs like "Jersey Shore" or "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" dominate Nielson ratings but lack his sense of vision and empathy?
"Not at all," Waters says with certainty. "I never looked down on my characters; I always look UP to them. I've never seen Honey Boo Boo, but the idea is that no one watching feels lower class than Honey Boo Boo. I'm against that sort of class thinking. Don't film her so you can look down on her."
"John Waters: This Filthy World," 7:30 p.m. Friday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $34-$54, $50 for VIP post-show reception and book signing with Waters; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org.
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