We saw John Waters perform his one-man Christmas monologue on Sunday night, and he was fabulous and funny. Famous for, well, I’m not sure how to describe him if you don’t know the wide and vast body of his work, but he’s a Baltimore legend, an actor/writer/filmmaker (you’ve probably heard of Hairspray). The man is fearless and will say anything, and the range of cultural references in his talk was breath-taking, ranging from Warhol to obscure gay porn film titles to Ivy Compton-Burnett to Justin Bieber. He’s definitely someone I could listen to for hours, soaking in the stories and his intellect (there’s no other way to say it; he simply has an original and fascinating mind). A secret fantasy of mine is to somehow get invited to his famous Christmas party in Baltimore, or, since that’s a bit unrealistic, to run into him some day in Baltimore.
I bought a copy of his most recent book, Role Models, about the various people who inspired him (again, a very wide and eclectic range), and while I haven’t read all of it yet, of course I jumped to the chapter called “Bookworm,” in which he narrows down his collection of 8,425 books to select “John Waters’s Five Books You Should Read to Live a Happy Life If Something Is Basically the Matter with You.”
He had me at this paragraph:
“You should never read for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’s insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Once you have to concentrate on while reading. And for God’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid.”
And then he really, really, REALLY had me when one of his five books—out of 8,425, remember—was Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. !!! He writes, “Here’s a page-turner from the Devil’s Reading List about a child all parents pray they never have….We Need to Talk About Kevin could bring any parent sobbing to his (or her) knees, yet somehow this book is easy to like.”
Yes, yes, yes, and YES! Now I know what John and I can chat about when I’m sipping eggnog at his art-filled house in Baltimore.
(He’s wrapping up his tour tonight in Baltimore at the Lyric…worth whatever you might have to pay for tix!)