Movie icon Waters performs one-man show


John Waters is not a typical filmmaker. In his 47 years in directing, he has cast porn stars, taught in prisons, pushed Johnny Depp out of his teen-idol image, and brought the pencil-thin mustache worldwide fame.

The man variously known as the Prince of Puke, the Pope of Trash, and the King of Kink will perform a one-man show, This Filthy World, at 7 p.m. Friday at the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., as part of the Mission Creek Festival. Admission ranges from $20 to $75.

This Filthy World, adapted from Waters’ 2006 film of the same name, will include opinions and observations on a variety of subjects ranging from Catholicism and true crime to sexual deviancy and Waters’ love of reading.

His film career began with 1964’s Hag in a Black Leather Jacket and achieved fame with 1972’s Pink Flamingos — particularly the closing scene, in which transvestite star Divine consumes dog feces.

Gradually moving toward increased mainstream acceptance, Waters earned breakthrough success with Hairspray, a 1988 release that took the circuitous path from film to Broadway musical in 2002 to a film adaptation of the musical in 2007.

Englert marketing associate Nathan Gould said Iowa City residents have a lot to look forward to with Waters’ visit.

“[Waters] will be just kind of interacting with the audience,” Gould said. “It’ll be rapid-fire, kind of witty, a little obscene, and a lot of fun.”

Mission Creek Festival cofounder and producer Andre Perry, a longtime Waters fan, described This Filthy World as a “living project” — a sort of live memoir Waters continually updates and revises.

“I think he’s great,” Perry said. “He’s good at sticking with his own aesthetic and inspired a lot of folks who came after him.”

In addition to directing and performing, Waters has long been involved in writing. This eclecticism, combined with his stature in pop culture, made him an attractive candidate for the festival, Gould said.

“He’s kind of a cultural icon,” he said. “He epitomizes the diverse nature of Mission Creek.”

University of Iowa alum Alex Richard said he has been a fan of Waters’ work for about five years, and cited Hairspray and 1990’s Cry-Baby as his favorite Waters films.

“I like the way he takes the musical genre and tweaks it into a satirical form,” the filmmaker said.

And though a fan, Richard said he has a hard time stomaching some parts of Waters’ films.

“In Pink Flamingos, there are some times when I find myself cringing and shielding my eyes at the more graphic scenes,” he said.

Gould believes Iowa City residents will warmly receive Waters and his iconoclastic perspective and creative output, but he agreed some people might not find the auteur’s act entertaining.

“Waters isn’t for everyone,” he said. “That’s for sure.”

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