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 eventâ€™s promotional material as saying â€śWhatever you might have heard, there is absolutely no downside to being famous. None at all.â€ť 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 â€śbeing anti-social on a certain level but always being uplifted.â€ť
â€śI make fun of things I love,â€ť said Waters. â€śIf you make fun of things you hate, itâ€™s funny for a short time, but not for 50 years.â€ť
Jarmusch pointed out that Watersâ€™ work â€śuplifts outsiders.â€ť
â€śBig girls arenâ€™t sad anymore. I think Ricky Lake and Divine helped that,â€ť said Waters. Then he laughed. â€śI was in a Nike ad this year. How ludicrous is that? Iâ€™m not even an outsider anymore.â€ť But he explained that heâ€™s 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 â€śscrewing things up from the inside.â€ť
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. â€śRight now, show business is over,â€ť Waters said. â€śBut my life is the same. I get up every morning and write.â€ť Heâ€™s 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 Deppâ€™s sidekick in Cry Baby (â€śYou canâ€™t have a sidekick that handsome!â€ť), to Carol Channing, who wanted to play an American Indian in Cry Baby (â€śI have no idea why.â€ť). Though they didnâ€™t get the parts, Waters described them as lovely. He has remained on good terms with each of them.