Arts District

John Waters Talks Politics, Gender, and Equality At MICA

No topic was sacred for the Pope of Trash.

By Gabriella Souza | March 9, 2016, 2:46 pm

John Waters and MICA president Sammy Hoi. -Chelsea Rebelo Castro
Arts District

John Waters Talks Politics, Gender, and Equality At MICA

No topic was sacred for the Pope of Trash.

By Gabriella Souza | March 9, 2016, 2:46 pm

John Waters and MICA president Sammy Hoi. -Chelsea Rebelo Castro

You’d recognize that pencil-thin mustache anywhere. Coupled with his trademark cackle and Bawl-mer accent, John Waters represents everything deliciously eccentric, grotesque, and oddball about Charm City.

Baltimore audiences are more than familiar with Waters and his films, art, and books—from the iconic Pink Flamingoes and Hairspray to his book CarsickCarsick, a chronicle of hitchhiking across the U.S. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less spectacular when the Pope of Trash—or the People’s Pervert, his newest nickname—makes an appearance in his hometown.

That was the case Tuesday night at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where Waters took to the stage to perform his gloriously dirty, and insightful, one-man show, “This Filthy World.” Delivered stand-up style, Waters wove biographical information with his insights on current events, pop culture, and, of course, his love for his hometown.

“Baltimore is the best place to live because it’s cheap enough that you can be bohemian,” he told the sold-out crowd. “Stay here, don’t leave.”

As is always true of Waters, no topic or material was sacred (and trust us, a good chunk of it was unprintable). Discussing presidential primary candidates, he said, “Even Cuba doesn’t want to be Socialist any more,” then continued that he’d “like Hillary to win so Bill can be First Lady, like Mamie Eisenhower.”

Turning to the state of the city after Freddie Gray’s death, he lamented that there doesn’t seem to be enough racial mixing. He brought up his own experiences of leaving the suburbs in high school to venture to North Avenue, where he “hung out with black kids. The cops hated it.”

He continued that, if black and white people interacted more, they would begin to realize that problems are more about economic disparity than race. “Pigtown and black communities should join together . . . then come to my neighborhood and burn down the country clubs. That’s how revolutions are made!”

In the second part of the evening, Waters took questions from MICA president Sammy Hoi—who said Waters’ films taught him about American culture when he arrived in New York after emigrating from Hong Kong—and then from the crowd. (Suffice it to say, his answers reddened some cheeks, but had people bent over in their seats.)

After a query about attending a burlesque performance, Waters floated a plan to turn The Block into a place for burlesque and punk rock venues. When asked where he goes to eat, he named Peter’s Inn and Rocket to Venus, though he really likes to cook at home. And he also declared his love for Justin Bieber.

But Waters kept coming back to his hometown. “This city has always been eccentric. Everyone has a sense of humor, it’s not pretentious,” he said.

“If I had to get rid of all the places I live, I’d keep Baltimore.”

You May Also Like

Arts & Culture

Selections from Baltimore School for the Arts’ Senior Photo Class

BSA seniors might be the last students to work in a darkroom setting for months ahead.


The Maryland Film Festival Goes Virtual

From June 12-21, shorts and feature films can be accessed directly through the festival’s site.

The Chatter

The Womanist Reader Creates an Online Library of Black Literature

A Baltimore writer curates an evolving list of women writers for her women followers.

On The Town

Eight Baltimoreans on The Loss of Summer Festivals

Mayor Young’s cancellation means no Artscape, AFRAM, or other large gatherings.


Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee takes on Vietnam, in his inimitable way.

Connect With Us

Most Read

Boxer Yahu Blackwell Is An All-Everything Businessman: The 33-year-old Baltimore native is the owner of the new Rita’s Italian Ice in Hampden.

Bottoms Up Bagels Rolls Into Harwood: Owners debut their new “BUB Hub” at 28th and Greenmount.

How These Surprise Quarantine ‘Flower Bombs’ Are Helping Families in Need: The paper-plate flowers have become a massive fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

Amid The Economic Chaos, Downtown Partnership’s New President Has a Plan: Shelonda Stokes was just named president after serving in an interim leadership role.

Design for Distancing Competition Aims to Revive The Beauty of Public Spaces: Forward-thinking social-distancing structures could be built in the city as early as this month.