Say It Don't Spray It: An Interview with "Hairspray" creator John Waters



Courtney Oliver and Jordan Nichols in HAIRSPRAY at POTS
  • Courtney Oliver and Jordan Nichols in HAIRSPRAY at POTS
People are often surprised when I describe John Waters as one of the most gracious people I've ever encountered. I met the king of trash cinema in 2002 when he was celebrating the 30th anniversary of Pink Flamingos. In 2004 he agreed to let me interview him and our conversation became one of my very favorite Flyer cover stories. With Hairspray opening at Playhouse on the Square this weekend I thought it might be nice to look back at some of the things Waters had to say about his most successful and—to hear him tell it—his most subversive creation. Here's an excerpt:

[Hairspray] is a big mainstream crossover, and that's exactly why it's so subversive. It's not preaching to the converted. Here's a movie that teaches people to be chubby-chasers. It encourages teenage integration in dating. It encourages men to be married and have a functional marriage. [Same-sex marriage] isn't actually a part of the plot. [In the story] it's a marriage between a woman and a man, but everybody knows that [the woman] is a man. All of those things are really exciting if you can make them appeal to a whole family. And no one, as far as I've seen, has ever objected to Hairspray on any grounds, really.

On a semi-related note I'm currently engrossed Waters' latest book Role Models and will write about for the Flyer's summer reading issue. If you've ever wondered what Leslie Van Houten is really like, this is the book for you.

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