“Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed” – John Waters.
And obsessed John Waters is – with the demise of pubic hair, the fall in film financing, Justin Bieber, the ugliness of first-class passengers on aircraft and much more. But Waters’ main obsession remains, justifiably, himself.
Taking to the altar in the spectacular Elder Hall attired in a statement-making suit, he leaps head first into a non-stop soliloquy covering everything from birth to death and back again, leading his enraptured audience through the golden pastures of adult fetishes and child rearing with the aplomb of a shepherd on poppers.
There is no failure to communicate here, no props or gimmicks required. Waters is his own prop, often pacing, sometimes lamenting, but always delivering, running reel to reel – using off-camera snippets and celebrity titbits to hand-feed the faithful their daily bread while all the time retaining an air of sophisticated dignity, even while recounting the grizzly tale of a bear weekend gone to the dogs.
The question here is not what to say about the man, for he is more than capable of doing that for himself, or what to write about him, given almost everything that could be written already has been; the question is what makes John Waters, filmmaker and raconteur, so appealing to such a wide audience?
Cult films aside, Waters is an obsession. A smooth-talking, highly intelligent, articulate obsession with a divine sense of humour – a small-town boy with an awe-inspiring sense of wonder that has never abated.
John Waters gives us something that we sadly miss in everyday life: the confidence to be ourselves. The bard of bravado he may well be, but underneath that costume lurks a man with the unnerving ability to find the good in every situation, even if that good is undoubtedly bad.
Oh, and contrary to the well-propagated myth, if you go home with someone and they don’t have books, you should go to bed with them anyhow – touché.
This Filthy World Vol 2 was a one-off performance at Elder Hall as part of the Adelaide Festival.
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Click here for InDaily’s stories and reviews from the 2014 Adelaide Festival, including WOMADelaide and Adelaide Writers’ Week.