John Waters Gives a Tour of Hip 1981 Baltimore

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1981 john waters

There’s something so deliciously early 80s about this clip of John Waters promoting a film (1981’s Polyester) and showing a film crew around the Baltimore of 30+ years ago. There are glimpses of Edith Massey‘s store in Fells Point, Arabbers trotting down the street, and a very young John Waters looking too cool for school.
In the video, which was produced by independent San Francisco TV studio Videowest, Waters describes the city’s aesthetic as “white trash chic,” claims he’s trying to become “a negative role model for a whole new generation,” complains about movies costing $4 (ha!), and explains how he and Divine first met — they bonded over being the best shoplifters in high school. He also takes the filmmakers by some of his favorite Baltimore spots, including the Jonestown neighborhood and The Wigwam (“like Studio 54 for bums!”), the precursor to today’s Club Charles. Old school Baltimoreans: do you remember this Baltimore? Do you miss it?

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