Book Group, Books

Book 29: Role Models – John Waters

What a fascinating memoir. I knew who John Waters was based on his picture, but had no idea what he had done and who he was in Hollywood. He’s a cult filmmaker, I’ve only seen Hairspray, but recognized a few of the other movies listed. There were two things that I found absolutely fascinating about this book, the first was his fascination with gristliness/grunge/dirtiness and how he wrote the memoir itself.

The writing of the novel was in such a way that Waters was not only interested in, but obsessed with the grunge/gristliness of both his hometown and everywhere he is and this shows in the topics of his memoir. From a brief tirade about men washing their hands in the bathroom like surgeons having only taken a piss and not rubbed off or anything, to his obsession with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons an off kilter fashion designer (this is a blog about the guerilla stores that Comme des Garçons holds and that Waters talks extensively about). The ‘mistakes’ and slightly ‘gruesome’ design aspect seem to hold sway over Waters and he describes them with such love and detail that he’s clearly behind this designer (as if we couldn’t tell).

How the memoir was written was as fascinating. It was about his role models and the things/people/places that influenced him as a person and as an artist. There were chapters on ‘locals’ (random people who had profound impacts on his life), ‘underground porn producers’ (he actually interviewed them), and books and sculptures. I loved how he described the books you should read and the artists (music, sculpting, fashion) that you should know and or worship.

Overall it was a good quick read and I enjoyed stretching outside of what I usually read. I still think his pencil mustache is creepy (again spends quite a bit of time talking about this and the mascara pen he uses to keep it) and that his grunge fascination is a bit morose, but overall I would recommend this to someone.

Quote from Role Models
“Being rich is not about how much money you have or how many homes you own; it’s the freedom to buy any book you want without looking at the price and wondering if you can afford it. Of course you have to read the books, too. Nothing is more important than an unread library.”

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