Life

John Waters talks gay rights, LSD, and the importance of old movie theaters

“I don’t understand stadium seating, maybe for a screening of Ben-Hur or something, but even the art theaters are putting in really expensive seats, like first class airlines,” he said. “But people go to sleep, you don’t want to be too comfortable. People don’t have sex in movie theaters anymore anyway.”

I told him he’s speaking at a fundraiser aiming to get new seats for the Byrd, and he laughed and threw out some suggestions for additional fundraisers:

“They ought to get celebrities to chew gum and have them put the gum under the theater seat,” he said. “That would be a really good fundraiser — on each one, you know how they sell plaques? You could do a lower version and have celebrities chew gum and stick it under there and it’s varnished under there for ever. Have the name of the star scrawled in graffiti alongside the gum.”

I told him we’ve got lots of graffiti artists in town and he said “put them to work.”

Beyond his role as a famed filmmaker and classic theater enthusiast, Waters is also a proud and outspoken gay man. Stories recently floated around social media suggesting he never really came out as gay — a kind of weak extrapolation from facts from an interview with SiriusXM Progress.

He was on the cover of a gay newspaper in 1972 called GayNews and Waters said people called him brave, a claim he denies: “I wasn’t brave… no one else would put me on their cover!”

His movies never shied away from gay, queer, or gender-bent concepts, with men in dresses often being the least shocking part of his early films.

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