The first John Waters movie I saw was Pink Flamingos, the one during which Divine munches on a dog turd near the end. It was a while before I saw another.
It’s a long way from that movie to having an exhibition about your life and work planned for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, but here we are:
John Waters was leading a delegation from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures — in for the week from Los Angeles — on a tour of his home of 32 years, cluttered with film artifacts and kitschy curios and tucked behind trees on a quiet corner five miles from this city’s waterfront.
There was much to see: the electric chair from his 1974 dark comedy, “Female Trouble” in the entryway. A birth certificate for Divine, the 300-pound cross-dresser who played the “filthiest person alive” in “Pink Flamingos,” hanging in a basement room piled with mementos. The mimeographed poster for the 1966 premiere of “Roman Candles,” retrieved from a stack of boxes.
“Hand me that leg of lamb,” Waters asked an assistant as two curators and the museum director followed him up the narrow stairs, through a doorway and into his cramped two-room home office — one room for “my writing and thinking” and one for, as he put it, selling. He was offering for consideration a favorite artifact from his moviemaking career: the (rubber) leg of lamb that Kathleen Turner used as a murder weapon in a particularly gruesome scene from “Serial Mom.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love John Waters and he totally deserves whatever honor comes his way. But part of me thinks he was a better artist when he and Divine were hawking drag shows on the streets of Provincetown.