Jim Jarmusch. Photo Courtesy Collection /Â Shutterstock.com
An evening with John Waters and Jim Jarmusch
Amidst all the bad right now, there are a few good things that have come out of the pandemic. One was watching Jim Jarmusch engage John Waters in a dialogue about his new book, Mr. Know-it-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. The event was presented by Murmrr Lit and the Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY, and took place in a live Zoom meeting on August 4, 2020.
John Waters is quoted in the eventâs promotional material as saying âWhatever you might have heard, there is absolutely no downside to being famous. None at all.â One interesting thing about this statement is how beautifully it captures the positivity of this rule-breaker, rebel, and master of the outlandish. His joie di vivre shines through everything he says.
Jarmusch opened the dialogue by asking how Waters balances âbeing anti-social on a certain level but always being uplifted.â
âI make fun of things I love,â said Waters. âIf you make fun of things you hate, itâs funny for a short time, but not for 50 years.â
Jarmusch pointed out that Watersâ work âuplifts outsiders.â
âBig girls arenât sad anymore. I think Ricky Lake and Divine helped that,â said Waters. Then he laughed. âI was in a Nike ad this year. How ludicrous is that? Iâm not even an outsider anymore.â But he explained that heâs okay moving to the inside and compared himself to the Greek soldiers who entered Troy by climbing into the belly of the Trojan horse. He plans on âscrewing things up from the inside.â
At a couple of points in the conversation, the two big guns of the alt art world discussed the state of the arts since the pandemic. âRight now, show business is over,â Waters said. âBut my life is the same. I get up every morning and write.â Heâs currently working on a novel but declined to give details.
John Waters seems to know everyone, and he spoke in glowing terms about the parade of stars he has interacted and worked with, from Brad Pitt who auditioned to be Johnny Deppâs sidekick in Cry Baby (âYou canât have a sidekick that handsome!â), to Carol Channing, who wanted to play an American Indian in Cry Baby (âI have no idea why.â). Though they didnât get the parts, Waters described them as lovely. He has remained on good terms with each of them.