Writer, screen director, raconteur, bon vivant, a personality like no other. Let’s call him John Waters, because that’s who he is. He used to drop in the Greenwich Village bookstore I worked in, during a past life, to check on his new book, browse, and inevitably he would attract autograph hounds and fans who recognized him. He was always very gracious and happy to oblige. A very cool cat!
So I had to check out his book “Role Models”. When I saw we had it stacked up on the main Info counter in the front of the store. It is autobiographical, and he shares with us a telescopic view into his private world, the one that led him to evolve into the innovative filmmaker, director, fashionista, author, hitchhiker, and pop culture icon that he is today! WOW. I read this book, calling it a page turner is an understatement, and saw the genius in just how deep still “Waters” run. I know. But it’s true because from his chatting about coming out in his home town of Baltimore, his celebrity crushes, his journey to the present, his show biz persona, his lust for literature, the reader gets him as a real guy and not just an obscure character in a literary biographical text.
So I love his chapters – Bookworm, and Roommates. The thing Waters is super passionate about is reading. His collection of books in his personal library is awe inspiring , thousands of choices, and he makes it clear just how book crazed he is, owning this obsession with pride! Check out his 5 top books! You probably never heard of them but trust me, you will wish you had!
I thought I was book crazy , but he takes it to another level. So when I wandered into the Strand Bookstore recently after fighting my way through the hipster mob in Union Square Park, dodging the chanting Krishnas , and map clutching, sneaker wearing tourists, and was confronted everywhere amidst the stacks of books, with an avalanche of posters, pins, magnets, totes, postcards, all blasting the same message with John Water’s signature.
“IF YOU GO HOME WITH SOMEBODY & THEY DON’T HAVE BOOKS, DON’T F**CK ‘EM”
Hahahahaha. Good one I thought. A smart quote put on a poster, perfect for mass consumption. Great!
Let’s just say I was delightfully, gleefully surprised, and happy to see this sexy message exposed publicly in such a commercial venue, projecting that rare combo of literature and lust.
A real attention getter!
Ok. I get it and I agree. And it’s John Water’s message now reproduced on stuff into eternity. Pretty Cool. In “Role Models”, he emphasizes his rapture with the written word and the intellectual, cultural, and social info,as well as the pure pleasure he gets from his personal library , bookstores, libraries, reminding us of how his discovery of playwright Tennessee Williams when he was 12 years old was a transforming moment his hometown library, and how this discovery had a lightbulb effect. Meeting Tennessee ‘s dark, twisted, lonely, and ultimately human characters in his novels and plays showed him that it was ok to be different, “Tennessee Williams saved my life”. Yes, Williams provided a door in Bookland that opened into the non conformists paradise of special people who didn’t fit in and had no desire to do so. This chapter, BookWorm, is overflowing with Water’s passion for literature, confirming without a doubt that John Waters LOVES books. I say Hell to the Yes! Thank God because today people don’t read. Not like they used to. The computer has made them lazy. Bookstores have been closing like it’s the end of time in a Sci-Fi novel, and the epic Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. Waters talks about how to him, riches aren’t about buying houses and cars and jewelry. Being rich to Waters, the guy who thinks outside the box, means he gets to buy books with a wanton freedom, never having to look at the price and discriminate. In bookspeak that means never having to give up a favorite choice, when you really want more. No need to choose through that hateful process of elimination. An impossible task for book people who love whatever their eye is drawn to, and if you read the first page without putting it down, guess what? You’re hooked! You have to have it. Love really is blind for the book lover set loose in his favorite bookstore. So yes John Waters, it’s good that you can afford to go crazy at the bookstore choosing what you want and not what you can only afford. That does make you really rich!
But back to this poster. The one about books and sex. If it isn’t it should be your new standard, your raison d’être, your mantra. This concept of books as aphrodisiac, is off the grid, kinda like, reminiscent of whoever it was who said that the Mind is the sexiest part of the body? The “sexy librarian” mystique didn’t come from nowhere now did it?
The provocative message is chock full of real time substance because if you are a reader, and your lover is not, well, duh, maybe you won’t have a lot to talk about. Because reader people have a whole lot on their minds. A wealth of worldly info resides in the head of the reader. Along with a shitload of useless trivia, and banal nonsense. We get annoyed and frustrated when an acquaintance never heard of Secret History, or Rilke Journals, or Howl, or Down and Out in Paris and London, or Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, or the surreal world of Murakami. Like hey, let’s talk. About some really cool stuff. But as the saying goes it takes 2 to tango. And to have a conversation. Readers and non readers have a communication problem. And according to Water’ s sexy new poster, a sex problem as well!
Maybe you don’t hang on Crosby Street at the Housing Works bookstore, an old school style bookstore still going strong in the Soho, Nyc neighborhood of celebrities, tourists, and people watchers.
Perhaps the Strand is not your thing, maybe you missed drag queen Divine in Pink Flamingos, Water’s star performer in his cult classics, like Mondo Trasho, Hairspray, Polyester, and other films that, Waters himself describes as exercises in bad taste, but they created a buzz, made Divine, the “Drag Queen of the Century”, and sealed Water’s success in the underground film world as a unique and prolific director.
As is true for many writers and readers they also love art. Either as creators, or collectors. Art and books are a match made in culture heaven. In “Role Models”, his chapter called “RoomMates” gives us a look-see into his roomies, and by Roommates he is referring to his art collection, the constant companions he lives with and considers his friends. He seems to choose his “Roommates”, based on personal instincts that have nothing much to do with the going popular trend or fad. He just likes what he likes, and takes it home to live with him. He is happy he doesn’t live with human beings and happier that the artists whose work he does live with are such an adaptable match for him and above all, doesn’t take up his “mental space.” Cy Twombly has always been one of my favorites, and after reading this chapter, I discover he is also Water’s idol. His attempt to describe what it’s like to “read” a Twombly painting is excruciating, because Twombly challenges with a vigor that disrupts and disturbs. It is an exercise in mind opening, head spinning, mind altering craziness. If you want to mess with someone. Put a Twombly in front of them and watch their reaction.
Everything cool for those of us who think outside the box is in this book. If you are living in the material world you won’t get him, but if you are one of the “special” ones, who exist in their own unique and original boundless life, removed from the matrix of conformist limitations and social expectations, it’s got it all! The movies, the sex, the fashion, the culture, the books, the art, and even Johnny Mathis. An all purpose manual for unique personalities walking their own path. Sheeple need not bother. They just won’t get it!
Waters is the ultimate non conformist thinker, he does it HIS way, even if it makes no sense to anyone else , he doesn’t care. Sounds like a real artist to me. The real deal. No posing involved. His philosophy NOW and FOREVER documented and immortalized on posters everywhere gets it right!
The power of the Poster! For Everyone Everywhere! Where the visual and the literal meet and give us not just what we want, but what we need to expand our dreams, give depth to our lives, inspiring our goals, and challenging our minds, bringing beauty and interest into our world, through message and design, funk and fashion, fun, and fantasy! POSTERS HAVE IT ALL!!!
For those who love cool posters check out my Pop art Etsy store & my original paintings on canvas & paper.