Who would have thought back when John Waters was just 18 in 1964 and making his 17-minute short film Hag in a Black Leather Jacket for $30 that he would go on to be a cultural phenomenon ushering in an era of celebrating bad taste. The summer of that same year Waters arrived in Provincetown, where he has returned every summer since. Globally, Waters continues to be the source of much fascination and, here in Provincetown, an endless source of curiosity and pride. People have questions about the mind that created such classics as Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Hairspray. The new full-format coffee table book John Waters: Timeless Conversation by John G. Ives and Justine Ives is a Dreamlanders fan’s dream as it features fascinating interviews and stories in a beautifully designed volume.
John Ives first met Waters here in Provincetown in 1973 when Ives co-owned The Movies, an independent art house theater. At the time is was really only cinemas in Baltimore and Provincetown that screened Waters’ films until Pink Flamingos became a midnight movie cult hit. Having this history with Waters and his work, Ives wrote the 1992 classic American Originals: John Waters, of which John Waters: Timeless Conversation is a “reimagining” containing new interviews as well as a new design by Ives’ daughter Justine. Interviews with Pat Moran, Rachel Talalay, Sara Riser, Ricki Lake, Pia Zadora, and Patty Hearst—all of whom have at one time or another figured significantly into Waters’ work—are included. But the crown jewels in this book are two lengthy interviews between Ives and Waters, one in 1991 and the other in 2013. Both are revealing, in depth, and answer so may questions longtime fans have had.
Above all, what makes John Waters: Timeless Conversation not just interesting, but culturally significant, is that it’s created by a man who was there from the very beginning as one of the first people to bring Waters’ films to audiences, back when an individual with a projector had that kind of power, before corporate control took over and the Internet made it possible for us all to do. It’s a celebration of a career, of independent cinema, and of weirdos—not just any weirdos, but Provincetown weirdos, and the culture in town that accepts and invites them, one that most everyone hopes is maintained. John Waters: Timeless Conversation is a document that proves when you allow weirdos in and you let them be weird, the returns are just marvelous. The book goes way beyond Divine eating dog poo and singing assholes. It delves into the career of a filmmaker who has been working, and staying relevant for 50 plus years. And while Waters’ heart may always be in Baltimore, John Waters: Timeless Conversation illustrates, both figuratively and literally, his affection for Provincetown over the past half century, too.
John Waters: Timeless Conversation is available in limited edition only in Provincetown at Maison Décor Gallery, 368B Commercial St. for $49.95. A book release party will be held at the gallery on Saturday, August 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. with the authors present to sign copies. For more information call 508.487.0444.