BY ​John Waters in Interviews | 01 JAN 11
Featured in
Issue 136

Questionnaire: John Waters

Q. What do you wish you knew? Q. French, the cure for AIDS, and how to deal with male pattern baldness.

BY ​John Waters in Interviews | 01 JAN 11

Mike Kelley, Carpet #6, 2003. Acrylic on carpet, mounted on wood panel, 76.25 x 52.25 inches.Photograph by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Kelley Studio “© Mike Kelley".

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

Nude Descending a Staircase, (No. 2) (1912) by Marcel Duchamp. As a child, I secretly pretended every day as I came down the steps of our family home, in stop-motion, that I was the ‘nude’ – a Surrealist little Johnny Waters.

What is art for?

To infuriate, to astonish and to teach smart people the magic trick of seeing things in a new way.

What do you like the look of?

Liquorice Allsorts.

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

The covers of two paperbacks – Teen Girls Who Are Assaulted by Animals (1973) by Walter Elton and Single and Pregnant (1962) by Larry Maddock.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

Mike Kelley’s Carpet Piece #6 (2003), because Minimalism is never ugly and this is.

What film has most influenced you?

Joseph Losey’s Boom! (1968) – the greatest failed art film ever.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

Being a defence lawyer for the damned in the US court system.

What should change?

The Catholic church.

What should stay the same?

Elitism in the art world.

What is your favourite title of an art work?

Untitled (2008) by Vincent Fecteau.

What music are you listening to?

Dark Night of the Soul (2010) by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2009).

What are you reading?

A Great Unrecorded History – A New Life of E.M. Forster (2010) by Wendy Moffat.

John Waters is a filmmaker, actor, writer and visual artist best known for his cult films, including Pink Flamingos (1972), Hairspray (1988) and Cecil B. DeMented (2000). He lives in Baltimore, Maryland. His latest book, Role Models (2010), is published by Beautiful Books.