John Waters

Inside Biography


John Samuel Waters Jr. is an American screenwriter, author, film director, stand-up comedian, art collector, visual artist, actor, and journalist, who came into limelight in the 1970s for his transgressive cult movies.

His directed movies from 1970 and early 1980 featured his group of actors called the Dreamlanders- comprised of David Lochary, Divine, Mink Stone, Edith Ma s sey, and Mary Vivian Pearce.

Early life and education

John Waters was born on 22 April 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland, US. He was born to John Samuel Waters and Patricia Ann. Waters' father was a fire-protection equipment manufacturer. Waters is White in ethnicity and holds American nationality.

At his early age of seven, John Waters was inspired by the movie, Lili. He started digging his interest in puppets and later proceeded to stage violent versions of Punch and Judy for children's birthday celebrations.

Robert L., a famous biographer, stated that John Waters' mother believed that the puppets in the movie, Lili, were the biggest influence on his future career.

John Waters was privately educated at the Calvert School located in Baltimore. After joining Townson Jr. High School in Maryland, and Calvert Hall College High School, Waters finally graduated from Boys' Latin School of Maryland.

In 1962, on his sixteenth birthday, John Waters got an 8mm film camera gifted by his grandmother, Stella Whitaker.


Early career

John Waters' first short movie was Hag in a Black Leather Jacket. According to him, the movie was shown only once in a ''beatnik coffee house'; in Baltimore, although in years later, Waters included it in his traveling photography exhibit.

Later, he joined New York University. The school, however, was not what he had thought of, as he said,

''NYU... I was there for about five minutes. I dont know what I was thinking about. I went to one cla s s 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.''

Highly influential by his innovative mind, John Waters said Robert K. Elder in an interview for  The Movie That Changed My Life, was The Wizard of Oz in 1939.

''I was always drawn to forbidden subject matter in the very, very beginning. The Wizard of Oz opened me up because it was one of the first movies I ever saw. It opened me up to villianary, to screenwriting, to costumes. And great dialouges. I think the witch has great, great dialouge'',

John Waters has also mentioned his appreciation for Federico Fellini, Rainer Werner Fa s sbinder, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Ingmar Bergman, and William Castle as people he was influenced by.

In 1996, John Waters and his peers were found smoking marijuana on the grounds of NYU; soon he was kicked out from his dormitory. After that, he returned to Baltimore and completed his another two short movies Eat Your Makeup and Roman Candles.

Most of the early age movies by John Waters were shot in the Baltimore with his group of local actors, the Dreamlanders. The group included Cookie Mueller, Mink Stole, David Lochary, Edith Ma s sey, Susan Wash, Mary Vivian Pearce, and few others.

His early campy movies features exaggerate characters in outrageous situations with hyperbolic dialogue. Female Trouble, Desperate Living, and Pink Flamingos, which he listed as the Trash Trilogy, pushed hard at movie censorship and boundaries of conventional propriety.

Move toward the mainstream

John Waters' film Polyester in 1981, featured, Divine, opposite former teen idol, Tab Hunter. Since then his films receive fewer controversies and much mainstream, although credits such as Cry-Baby, Pecker, Hairspray, and Cecil B. Demented still considered as his trademark of creativeness.

The movie, Hairspray, was turned into a hit Broadway musical that won 2003 Tony Awards, and a film adaptation of the Broadway musical was released on 20 July 2007 in theaters.

The same year he appeared as the host of Til Death Do Us Part, a program aired via America's Court TV network featuring dramatization of marriages that sourced and ended in murder.

In 2008, John Waters was planning to make a children's Christmas movie titled Fruitcake featuring Parker Posey and Johnny Knoxville. The shooting was planned for the end of 2008 but it was suspended at the beginning of 2009.

The following year, John Waters said,

''Independent films that cost $5 million are very hard to get made. I sold the idea, got a developement deal, got paid a great story to write it- and now the company is no longer around, which is the case with many independent film companies these days,''

he said this during an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

John Waters has made characters with obliterated names for his movies including, Cuddles Kovinsky, Donald and Donna Dasher, Corny Collins, Fat F**k Frank, Dawn Davenport, Francine Fishpaw, Mole McHenry, Link Larkin, Motormouth Maybelle, Penny and Prudy Pingleton, Sandy Sandstone, Ramona Ricketts, Todd Tomorrow, Sylvia Stickles, Ursula Udders, Tracy Turnblad, Wanda Woodward, and Wade Walker.

Fine art

Since the beginning of 1990, John Waters has been making photo-based artwork and installations that have been internationally exhibited in museums and galleries. In 2004, the New Museum in NYC presented a retrospective of his artwork curated by Marvin Heiferman and Lisa Phillips.

Waters' recent exhibition was in 2009 April named Rear Projection, at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, and Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. He has also been represented by C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, from 2002.

His works are often comical, such as Hardy Har(2006), a photograph of flowers that squirt water to anyone who steps on a taped line on the floor, and Rush(2009), a super-sized, tipped-over bottle of poppers.

Other interests

John Waters is a bookworm, with a collection of more than 8,000 books. In 2011, at the time of visiting Waters' house in Baltimore, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson saw:

''Bookshelves line the walls but they are not enough. The coffee table, desk and side tables are heaped with books, as is the replica electric chair in the halls. They range from Taschen art tomes such as The big Butt Book to Jean Genet paperbacks made a Hungarian trqanslation of Tennesse Willians with with a pulp fiction cover. In one corner sits a doll from the horror spoof Seed of Chucky, in which Waters appeared. It feels like an electric professor's study, or a carefully currated exhibition based on life of a fictional character.''

Later, he had his fans mail delivered to Atomic Books, a bookstore in Baltimore for more than twenty years.

Smoking cigarette continuously, John Waters has made his appearance in short film shown in lm art houses announcing that 'no smoking' is permitted in the theaters. The 'No Smoking' spot featuring Waters, was directed by Douglas Brian Martin and produced by Steven M. Martin, and Douglas Brian Martin along with two other short movies. Since the movie, John Waters quit smoking.

John Waters has also made his appearance as a minister in Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat. The movie was directed by one of his idols, Herschell Gordon Lewis, it is also a sequel to one of his favorite exploitation movies.

Additionally, he has also worked as a board member of Maryland Film Festival and has hosted and selected one favorite feature film within each Maryland Film Festival since its launch in 1999.


With the concept ''My life is so very-scheduled, what will happen if I give up control?'', he completed hitchhiking journey across the United States from Baltimore to San Francisco, making his adventures into a book, Carsick.

On 15 May 2012, while on the hitchhiking trip, he was picked by twenty-year-old, Myersville, Maryland, councilman Brett Bidle, who thought he was a homeless hitchhiker standing in the heavy rain. Feeling pity towards Waters, he agreed to drive him to Ohio.

The following day, indie rock band, Here We Go Magic, tweeted that they had picked John Waters up hitchhiking in Ohio. Waters a hat with 'Sc u m of the Earth'' written on it. In Denver, Colorado, he met Bidle and Bidle drove Waters for another 1,000 miles to Nevada.

Before separating ways, John Waters arranged Bidle's stay at his San Francisco apartment:

''I thought, you know what, he wanted an adventure, too ... He's the first Republican I'd ever vote for.''

''We are polar opposites when it comes to our politics, religious beliefs. But that's what I loved about the whole trip. It was two people able to agree and disagree and still move on and have a great time. I think that's what America's all about.''

Personal life

John Waters is openly gay. He is also a supporter of gay pride and gay rights. Till date, there is no any news or rumors regarding his relationship and affairs.

Besides, John Waters advocated the parole of former Manson family member, Leslie Van Houten. He has also devoted a chapter to Van Houten in his book, Role Models published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in May 2010.

The following year, he visited Lake Forest College for a speech and was interviewed by Davis Schneiderman, professor of University.

John Waters was a very big fan of the music of Little Richard during his growing age. Ever since with a copy of the Little Richard song 'Lucille' in 1957 at his age of eleven, Waters recalled,

''I've wished I could somehow climb into Little Richard's body, hook up his heart and vocal chords to my own and switch indenteties.''

In 1987, Waters was employed by Playboy magazine, then at his age of 41,  to interview his idol, but the interview did not end well, 

''It turned into kind of a disaster'',

Later remarked by John Waters.


In 1999, John Waters received the Filmmaker on the Edge Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival. In 2015 September, the British Film Institute held a programme to celebrate the 50th year of John Waters' movies which included all of his previous works, some previous unscreened in the UK.

He also programmed a side-bar including, six of his favorite British films and participated in an on-stage interview with BFI season curator, Justin Johnson.

In 2014, John Waters got a nomination for a Grammy-award for the spoken word version of his book, Carsick.

Net worth

John Waters has earned a heafty amount of money from his various successful career as screenwriter, visual artist, stand-up comedian, author, actor, film director, journalist, and art collector.

His popular movie, Hairspray, made $8 million in the United States market. Later the movie was adapted as a long-running Broadway musical, which itself was adapted to a hit musical film that generated more than $200 million.

He also earns from his books, including, Make Trouble, worth $8.98, and Carsick worth $14.52 for card cover and $22.78 for the Audio CD respectively on Amazon online stores. He also makes money as a visual artist. A visual artist in the U.S earns $64,000 annually on average, so we can a s sume he also has a good amount of salary.

He also owns two luxury mansions in Los Angeles and Baltimore. According to a news editor, Andrew Edgecliffe- Johnson, Waters' house in Baltimore includes a room of Bookshelves lined on the walls.

The desk, coffee table, and side tables are gathered with books, as ultimately it is a replica electric chair in the wall. As of 2017, his total net worth is estimated to be $60 million.

by admin, 22 Jan, 2018

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