Many great artists are synonymous with where they came from, or at least a city that served as their muse.
Think Henry Miller and Paris. Andy Warhol and Pittsburgh. Bruce Springsteen and Jersey.
So when you think of the fine metropolis of Baltimore, you invariably think of – no, not Jonathan Plowman, Jr; nice try! – but John Waters.
For anyone who’s been, Baltimore is..um…quaint.
The Inner Harbor is quite pleasant, as is Camden Yards. All those Maryland crab shacks are cool; although I rarely got my fill eating the crabs, as the meat is pretty flimsy. Too much work with a sparse reward. Although one of those $5 pitchers of Coors Lite would hit the sport right about now.
There used to be a nice club there, called the Ottobar, named after the house cat, Otto. It moved elsewhere in the city, and now, if I’m not mistaken, the bar was re-named The Talking Head.
Walk a block or two away from the Talking Head, as I did many times, and you end up in the strip-club district.
From what I could tell – I never, ever patronized any of those establishments – the strippers were kinda gnar-gnar.
I remember a proliferation of chili dogs and chili dog-related scents wafting through the tense, humid night air. And I vividly recall walking past a raving Christian minister preaching at a street corner, intoning hordes of prowling men to turning away from a life of sin.
Carmel it ain’t.
Anyway, this urban hell is the bizarre and sleazy crucible that Waters’ art was smelted in.
And now he’s coming to the Henry Miller Library. One of the funniest, most astute, and old-school entertaining performers and artists of his day. It is a benefit for the Library also, so now you have at least two reasons to go. More info here.
Better yet, for a lil’ extra you can meet him – even have dinner with him! So click that link!
I mean, he’s an inspiring dude.
Despite the lures of bigger and less-littered pastures – after all, even Bruce ditched Jersey for a spell and moved to Hollywood (I think?) – Waters has remained true to his Baltimore roots:
“I don’t ever want to leave here,” Waters told Sunday Morning correspondent Rita Braver. “I come home to be inspired, because I come here and there are certain neighborhoods I go to and I get ideas from.”
Ideas like the time in Pink Flamingos where the dude had sex while crushing a live chicken.