John Waters

Director

On the state of things: All movies need help. I’m for federal movie stamps. But the only people that can really help out are theater owners, by developing their audience. You have to go out and find them, make them feel good about coming. Make it like a club. What doesn’t work is a multiplex with 13 theaters where one screen is an art film and they don’t do anything about it. That’s so pitiful. You have to use showmanship.

Another thing, make the NC-17 OK. Everybody blames the MPAA, but in a way, it’s all the theaters being cowards. Because with NC-17, if papers would advertise it and chains would book it, there is nothing the matter with it. In Europe they have adult ratings all the time. It’s no big deal. We just have to convince the public. When “Midnight Cowboy” opened with an X rating, it helped the film. … Revival houses should have porn festivals. … Porn again! Bring it back, because revival houses are all dying.

Recipes for success: I’ve been involved in “Hairspray: The Musical,” and the rehearsal space is on 42nd Street. I come out and it’s so depressing. It’s like a suburban shopping mall. Where I got my film education was in many of those grind-house theaters that were so important to me. I’m still a carnie at heart. And I think everybody needs to have a little more carnie in ’em today in the independent world. Showmanship does not mean bad. You can be an intellectual showman, which I think a lot of people have forgotten how to do.

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