On the Bright Side of Smut

John Waters returns to his sex-mad (but never mean) moviemaking roots

For all the robust excess of his movies, Waters' guiding motto might be "raunchiness is next to kindliness." Like all his films, A Dirty Shame is a tongue-in-cheek plea for tolerance. "I don't think my movies are ever mean," he says. "Even Pink Flamingos wasn't mean. They're not against women. They're not hateful, and I always try to be joyous even in the most despairing situations. It's hard to be joyous if you have to lick floors every day for sex, but I try," he says archly, "to think on the bright side of that. You can't get AIDS, you can't get pregnant, you can't be disappointed. There are dirty floors everywhere—you can do it alone. I try to think of the best in the worst." Evidently he gets his sunny optimism from his mother, who, on being told that he was making a film about sex addicts, remarked brightly: "Oh! Well, maybe we'll die first."

A DIRTY SHAME was written and directed by JOHN WATERS; produced by CHRISTINE VACHON and TED HOPE; and stars Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Chris Isaak and Selma Blair. Now playing at Edwards University, Irvine.
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