Waters’ World

John Waters shares some of his cross-country exploits with Craig Ferguson:

Choire Sicha entertainingly dresses down the “stunt-writing industry” – books like 52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust and Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk – but saves praise for John Waters’ new take on the genre:

John Waters is something of a living stunt, in the best possible way. A hero of both America and Americana, Waters has changed the culture of the country as much as any other living filmmaker—Errol Morris, Wes Anderson, or Paul Verhoeven. Having written a couple of memoirs, he now turns his gaze more strictly on himself in a strange stunt book, Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26). After life-stuntist extraordinaire Bill Clegg sold Waters’s idea to FSG head Jonathan Galassi in a bookish velvet-mafia inside job, it took, according to the acknowledgments, two and a half years for Waters “to write and live this adventure.”

The stunt was that Waters, who is now sixty-eight, would hitchhike from his primary home in Baltimore to his San 51l19HWlbrLFrancisco residence. On May 14, 2012, he set out on that expedition. In the end, he arrived. We learn that he is far too cranky and fussy to be doing such things!

In one way, though, Waters tears a mannequin of the stunt genre apart and spits in its face. The actual hitchhiking takes up less than the second half of the book. The first 192 pages consist of two fictional accounts: first his best-case scenario, followed by his worst-case one. These are unimpeachably lewd and Watersian (and, of course, far more entertaining than the actual dreary hitchhiking odyssey). Womb raiders, escaped convicts with priapism, a stripper who shoots up Viagra in a room of truckers gone wild, an alien abduction, and rape—oh, sure, that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case presentation involves way more pus and goiters.

I can’t wait to see him again in Provincetown this summer, gamely biking up and down Commercial Street and still throwing one of the funkiest parties in town. He may hitchhike across America, but he always ends up here.