Synopses & Reviews
Here, from the incomparable John Waters, is a paean to the power of subversive inspiration that will delight, amuse, enrich—and happily horrify—readers everywhere.
Role Models is, in fact, a self-portrait told through intimate profiles of favorite personalities—some famous, some unknown, some criminal, some surprisingly middle of the road. From Esther Martin, owner of the scariest bar in Baltimore, to the playwright Tennessee Williams; from the atheist leader Madalyn Murray OHair to the insane martyr Saint Catherine of Siena; from the English novelist Denton Welch to the timelessly appealing singer Johnny Mathis—these are the extreme figures who helped the author form his own brand of neurotic happiness.
Role Models is a personal invitation into one of the most unique, perverse, and hilarious artistic minds of our time.
"The director of the gross-out epic Pink Flamingos and other cinematic provocations salutes the people he finds inspiring himself foremost among them in these self-regarding essays. Waters's role models range from icons like Johnny Mathis and Tennessee Williams to a gay reality-porn auteur, a lesbian stripper called Lady Zorro, and ex-Charles Manson groupie and murderer Leslie Van Houten. When he pays attention to them, Waters produces vivid portraits of his subjects, especially those with really lurid backstories, but he's happier when the spotlight is on him and his studied outrageousness. He discusses celebrity ('I've... gone out drinking with Clint Eastwood, and spent several New Year's Eve parties in Valentino's chalet in Gstaad, but what I like best is staying home and reading') and the graphic pornography on his walls, and regales readers with scatological scandals, disdaining religious beliefs while graciously tolerating people who hold them. In the end, Waters's war against 'the tyranny of good taste' feels tired, his taboo-breaking rote, his kitsch-mongering snobbish (taken on a tour of the Vatican, he refuses to leave the gift shop and its 'hideously pious cards'). (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"How did somebody from a quiet Baltimore neighborhood grow up to become the outlandish, brilliant, and insane John Waters? Two words: Johnny Mathis." Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors
"John Waters has a great gift for appreciation whether for toothless lesbian strippers in Baltimore or the most rarefied painters and writers of our day. He is a dandy who has done away with everyone else's hierarchies and created a new world that conforms only to his own taste for trash and the sublime. He is frank, funny, and (strangely enough) both sensible and outrageous." Edmund White, author of City Boy
"What is exhilarating about Waters is that he's not kidding, that he's the reporter, comedian and poet-in-chief of a fantasy cult which thinks there's only one way to die spontaneous combustion. The unexplained phenomenon of being so guilty and happy, so obsessed, so driven and so fanatical that you just burst into flames for no apparent reason on the street. He remains one of our most necessary fellow Americans." The Buffalo News
"Waters is a greater National Treasure than 90 percent of the people who are given Kennedy Center Honors each December. Unlike those gray eminences of the show-business establishment, Waters doesn't kowtow to the received wisdom, he flips it the bird . . . [Waters] has the ability to show humanity at its most ridiculous and make that funny rather than repellent. To quote his linear ancestor W.C. Fields: It's a gift." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"The collision of the eloquent and the profane is probably the best reason to read this quasi-memoir-cum-how-to, aside from its deeper philosophy: judge not lest ye have the whole story, indulge your inner pervert (within reason), and read, for the love of Divine. Waters puts it another way: 'I believe in the opposite of original sin. I don't believe anybody is born guilty or evil. Glory-hole-lujah.' Amen." Heather McCormack, Library Journal
John Waters's Role Models
is a self-portrait told through intimate literary profiles of the author's favorite personalities — some famous, some unknown, some criminal, some surprisingly middle-of-the-road. From Miss Esther, owner of the scariest bar in Baltimore, to the French auteur Marguerite Duras; from the atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair to the insane martyr Saint Catherine of Siena; from the English novelist Denton Welch to the singer Johnny Mathis — these are the extreme figures who helped the author form his own brand of neurotic happiness.
These shining examples of fetishistic idolatry will inspire readers to their own devious hero worship and appreciation of the power of subversive inspiration.
Waters' Role Models is a self-portrait told through intimate literary profiles of the author's favorite personalities — some famous, some unknown, some criminal, some surprisingly middle-of-the-road — who helped the author form his own brand of neurotic happiness.
About the Author
John Waters is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, and visual artist best known for his cult films, including Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Cecil B. DeMented. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.