JOHN WATERS Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: John Samuel Waters, Jr.                                                                 
Born: 22 April 1946 Baltimore, Maryland, USA                                                 
John Samuel Waters, Jr. (born April 22, 1946) is an American filmmaker, actor,               
writer, personality, visual artist and art collector, who rose to fame in the                 
early 1970s for his transgressive cult films. He is recognizable by his pencil-thin           
Waters was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of John Samuel Waters, a                     
manufacturer of fire-protection equipment, and Patricia W. (née Whitaker).                   
Waters grew up in Lutherville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. His boyhood                   
friend and muse Glenn Milstead, later known as Divine, also lived in Baltimore               
County, Maryland, a short distance away.                                                     
The movie Lili inspired an interest in puppets in then-seven-year-old who                     
proceeded to stage violent versions of Punch and Judy for children's birthday                 
parties. Biographer Robert L Pela says that Waters' mother believes the puppets               
in Lili had the greatest influence on Waters' subsequent career (though Pela                 
believes tacky films at a local drive-in, which the young Waters watched from a               
distance through binoculars, had a greater effect).                                           
Waters attended Calvert Hall College for High School. For his sixteenth birthday,             
Waters received an 8mm movie camera from his maternal grandmother, Stella                     
His first movie was Hag in a Black Leather Jacket. According to Waters, the film             
was shown only once in a "beatnik coffee house" in Baltimore. Waters was a                   
student at New York University (NYU) in New York City. The school, however, was               
not what Waters had in mind:                                                                 
“ NYU...I was there for about five minutes. I don't know what I was thinking               
about. I went to one class and they kept talking about Potemkin and that isn't               
what I wanted to talk about. I had just gone to see Olga's House of Shame. That               
was what I was more into.. ”                                                               
In January 1966, Waters and some friends were caught smoking marijuana on the                 
grounds; they were soon expelled. Waters returned to Baltimore, where he began               
work on his next film, Eat Your Makeup, which was filmed that year. Waters'                   
films would become Divine's primary star vehicle. Waters' early films were all               
shot in the Baltimore area with his company of local actors, the Dreamlanders.               
In addition to Divine, the group included Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller, Edith                   
Massey, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, and others. These early films were                 
among the first picked up for distribution by New Line Cinema. Waters' films                 
premiered at the Baltimore Senator Theatre and sometimes at the Charles Theatre.             
Waters' early campy movies present filthily lovable characters in outrageous                 
situations with hyperbolic dialogue. His early films, Pink Flamingos, Female                 
Trouble, and Desperate Living, which he labeled the Trash Trilogy, pushed hard               
at the boundaries of conventional propriety and movie censorship. A particularly             
notorious final segment of Pink Flamingos, simply added in as a non sequitur to               
the end of the film, featured, in one take without special effects, a small dog               
defecating and Divine eating the feces.                                                       
His 1981 film Polyester starred Divine opposite once-teen-idol Tab Hunter. Since             
then, his films have become less controversial and more mainstream, although                 
works such as Hairspray, Cry-Baby and Serial Mom still retain his trademark                   
inventiveness. The film Hairspray was turned into a hit Broadway musical, which               
swept the 2003 Tony Awards, and a movie adaptation of the Broadway musical was               
released in theaters on July 20, 2007.                                                       
Waters' most recent film, the NC-17-rated A Dirty Shame, is a move back toward               
his earlier, more controversial work of the 1970s. He also had a cameo in                     
Jackass: Number Two, which starred Dirty Shame co-star Johnny Knoxville. Waters               
has stated that his next movie will be a children's film titled "Fruitcake". It               
began shooting in January 2008.                                                               
He is currently a professor of Cinema and Subcultural Studies at the European                 
Graduate School. In 2007, he also became the host (as "The Groom Reaper") of                 
'Til Death Do Us Part, a program on America's Court TV network featuring                     
dramatizations of real-life marriages that soured and ended in murder. A gay                 
American, Waters is an avid supporter of gay rights and gay pride.                           
Waters has been known to create characters with alliterated names for his movies             
including Tracy Turnblad, Motormouth Maybelle, Dawn Davenport, Donald Dasher,                 
Link Larkin, Penny Pingleton, Sylvia Stickles, Wade Walker, Wanda Woodward, Mona             
Malnorowski, David Divine, Bo-Bo Belsinger, Francine Fishpaw, Sandra Sullivan,               
Prudy Pingleton, Todd Tomorrow, Mole McHenry, Ursula Udders, Fat Fuck Frank, and             
Ramona Rickettes.                                                                             
For years, Waters has been seen in movie art houses announcing that "no smoking"             
is permitted in the theatre. This short spot was filmed by Waters for the Nuart               
Theatre (a Landmark Theater) in West Los Angeles, CA in appreciation to the                   
theater for showing Pink Flamingos for many years.                                           
Waters is an avid fan of Court TV and for a time was known for going to high                 
profile court cases as an observer. Waters has been quoted as saying that he saw             
many of the same people who were court observers all around the country at                   
different trials. Waters eventually stopped going to trials when more fans                   
started recognizing him and went to trials to meet him. He didn't feel it was                 
appropriate given the seriousness of the court system.                                       
He played a reverend in Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, directed by one of his                 
idols, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Waters owns one of John Wayne Gacy's paintings,               
which Waters says he hangs in his guest bedroom "so people don't stay too long".