Filmmaker John Waters calls his 1988 movie Hairspray “the gift that keeps on giving,” because it has had so many versions.
But there’s one version that has yet to see the light of day.
“I want to do the porn version,” he revealed recently. “Pubic Hairspray!”
Waters, who is based in Baltimore, went on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” show to kick off a nationwide tour to promote his new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.
The book, his ninth, is part advice book, part memoir, part recap of his last seven films, and part celebrity tell-all, with anecdotes about many of the stars he’s worked with over the years. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux is the publisher.
In his interview with Meyers, Waters, 73, said he doesn’t mind being labeled a cult director, even though not everyone would say that’s good.
“In Hollywood, it’s the worst thing that you can ever say, because to them ‘cult’ means two smart people like it and it lost every penny. Which is true in my movies.”
Waters said he didn’t tell studios he wanted to make cult movies.
“I never went in and said I want to make a cult movie,” he said. “I always had to lie and say, Everybody in America is going to love this movie! And they believed it sometimes. I failed upwards.”
Waters wanted to make sure Meyers didn’t mispronounce the sexually suggestive title of his 1998 movie, Pecker.
It’s “Pecker, Pecker. I thought you said Packer,” he corrected. “That’s the porn version.”
“I can’t believe Pecker wasn’t dirty enough for you,” Meyers replied.
Meyers wanted to know how Waters pulled off one scene in Pecker, in which he got rats to have sex a certain way.
“I know how to get them to have oral sex. You put peanut butter on there,” Waters said. “But I wanted the missionary position. They wouldn’t do it and I thought, what do we have to put on, like Ben or Willard, show them rat movies? Rat porn?”
Finally, he said, prop master Brook Yeaton “took ’em and shook ’em” and he got the shot he wanted.
Waters recalled a time when he was in kindergarten and talked to his mother about an unnamed student in his class.
“I used to come home and I said, there’s this weird little kid in my class and he only draws with black crayons,” Waters relates. “I talked about him so much my mother asked the teacher and she said, That’s your son. So I was creating characters for myself as I was young.”
He also remembered a disappointing appearance he made on a show that the late comedienne Joan Rivers had on the Home Shopping Network.
It was “so pitiful,” he said. “It was one set with six folding chairs, and she told me that I was the only person that sold not one thing. I was pushing the video of ‘Desperate Living,’ my lesbian political melodrama. Not one person bought one.”
“Well, hopefully we’ll do better with the book tonight,” Meyers offered.
“Hopefully,” Waters repeated.
Over the next several weeks, Waters will make a dozen stops on his book tour, including locations in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New England. In Baltimore, he had a book signing scheduled at Atomic Books (3620 Falls Road) on May 25th.