John Waters on Donald Trump: “We Have a Hair Hopper President Now and We Have to Get Used to it”

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A hair hopper, as any good Baltimorean knows, is someone who favors a tall hairstyle kept in place with hairspray.  The early 1960s was the heyday of the hair hopper.

As the author of Hairspray and a native of Baltimore, which he calls the Hairdo Capital of the World, writer and filmmaker John Waters knows a hair hopper when he sees one. And he sees one in the White House.

“We have a hair hopper president now. That’s all. And we have to get used to it,” he says.

Waters, 70, shared his take on Donald Trump and other subjects in a radio interview this week with Amanda LeClaire of WDET in Detroit.

During the interview, he urged college students to get involved and called for a new effort to counter what’s going on in Washington.

“We need a new activism,” he said. “College students: Stop studying…I think we need the Yippies again.”

Waters, who has recovered after a brief hospital stay in December with a kidney stone, started off by talking about life on the road with his comedy show and how his fans have changed over the years. Here is a transcript of the interview:

John Waters: Being on the road, I’m not like a rock group that has to go out for six months at a time. My Christmas show, I did 18 cities in 22 days. But there’s an end in sight. It’s like making a movie. If you’re awake, you’re at work.

But rock bands… You know, I get to go first class, and a car picks me up, and it’s just me and a bottle of Evian water, where rock groups have to split it between 12 people and go in a van and sleep alongside the road. But I guess when I was young, I did that myself with my own movies when I distributed them myself.

So, do I like it? You have to tour today, no matter what business you’re in. If you don’t, it’s over. Because it’s like being a politician. You have to meet the fans. You have to see what your audience is like. And you have to press the flesh. And I firmly believe that if people come see you, they feel they know you, and they’ll support your work forever.

Q: I assume that you do like meeting the fans, though?

A: Yes, I do. My fans are great. They’re smart. I never explain jokes. I do literary jokes. I figure if they don’t get it, look it up. It’s supposed to be educational and funny. My fans are pretty great. And it’s amazing. It used to be when I was younger, everybody wanted to leave where they were born and move to LA or New York. But now, everywhere’s cool. So everywhere’s the same. My audience in Paris and my audience in Nebraska looks exactly the same. Great.

Q: Yeah, we’re all so connected now. You don’t need to be in LA.

A: No, you don’t.

A: I was watching an interview you did with Stephen Colbert back in November after the election, and you said that you lived through Nixon, you lived through Reagan, and you survived all of it. I was wondering, now that Donald Trump is president, and he’s shown what he’s going to be like as president, have your feelings on that changed at all?

A: Well, he’s doing exactly what he said he was doing. My feelings didn’t change because I feared that this would happen. We need a new activism. College students: Stop studying. Where was all this fervor? ‘I went to the Women’s March. I went to the marches. I’m for the airports’…But where were you Election Day?

Q: I lot of those people who didn’t vote are also the ones who don’t seem that perturbed by what’s going on.

A: No, I think they are perturbed now, and they’re guilty. And that’s why they’re going to all the marches and everything. No, I’m for marching. I’m for a new form of activism. I think we need the Yippies again. We need people that use humor as terrorism to embarrass the enemy by doing nothing except making fun of them. And Donald Trump will rise to the bait.

Q: In these times of political turmoil, what is the role of artists and filmmakers and writers?

A: Well, there is no rule. Of course, you always are allowed to make fun of politicians. Politicians have been lampooned since Mad magazine, the first thing I ever read…

And I’m not sure that even children aren’t in it. Don’t have them come with you if you don’t want. I mean, Amy Carter learned that quickly when she had a treehouse, and they tried to exploit it, the press.

If you don’t want your children to be known, don’t bring them. Like the Obamas didn’t bring their children to things a lot. So, it’s fair game. I’m sorry. That’s the downside of being the president. You have to take some criticism. And I’m amazed that he responds to everything. That’s the thing. We have a hair hopper president, now. That’s all. And we have to get used to it, for a bit. But we can certainly fight that.

Q: So how do you personally deal with this kind of turmoil or the stress of it at least? A lot of people turn off the news for a bit, or they do something. What do you do?

A: Write jokes about it. Do a show called This Filthy World that addresses all of it. Vote.

 

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.
Ed Gunts


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