John Waters knows the built-in absurdity of any situation, whether he’s hanging out with Beth Ditto at Coachella or hosting the CFDA Awards. So when the master of camp makes art of the gallery kind, which is a common occurrence, it invariably deals with the same sordid, preposterous themes as his films: faded (or never achieved) glamour, over-the-top sadism, geek love, extreme slapstick, anti-hero worship. In other words, not family fare. Which is odd, thinks Waters, because if you strip the sex, violence, and obscenities from his films, you have solidly funny stories that kids would love.
That’s exactly what he’ll screen at his new exhibition at Marianne Boesky gallery, among his photographic odes to bad taste. On loop will be a 74-minute video, Kiddie Flamingos, that riffs on Waters’ notorious Pink Flamingos of 1972, starring Divine as a degenerate sociopath whose only goal in life is to be named “the filthiest person alive” by a tabloid. The new G-rated version is a table read of the Pink Flamingos script, but recast with child actors — in bright wigs and cat-eye glasses to evoke their original counterparts — and all explicit content removed or rewritten. It’s still quite perverse — even more so, attests Waters.
John Waters, January 9 – February 14, 2015, Marianne Boesky, 509 West 24th Street, NYC
Pink Flamingos poster
John Waters, A Passion for Audrey
John Waters, Hollywood Smile Train
John Waters, Haunted
John Waters, Stalker