The anticipation in the air was palpable as the Elder Hall filled with people waiting to hear John Waters speak for the Adelaide Festival. The stage is minimalist – a green floral arrangement on a white stand with red lighting at the rear.
John enters the stage resplendent in a grey checked suit with his trademark pencil moustache and starts his show by musing on gay marriage and what it means for homosexuals who don’t marry. An unmarried woman is a spinster, an unmarried man is a bachelor – will there be a new term?
The show was littered with sexual innuendo – references to gay subcultures such as the bear community – large hairy gay men, musings on whether you should fuck someone who doesn’t have books in their apartment (yes is the answer). He even so far as to propose that the correct response to someone gifting a book should be a sexual favour in return.
The delivery was rapid-fire, no sooner had the audience recovered from one hilarious anecdote, than he was already launching into the next topic.
We heard about his love of poppers and the ways that people had misused them at his lavish parties, his love of Justin Bieber, his collection porn with bad titles, stories of how he was kicked out of every school he attended and how when he made his movies he didn’t even think about location scouts and song rights, but just “did” them.
There was a real insight into his persona. We heard of his decision to hitch-hike from Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco and the reactions he got along the way. We learned of how he created heroes in his movies that were not the traditional square jawed Hollywood hunk, but were people. He explained while the current trend of reality TV makes us laugh at others, he created characters that were admired.
He was able to create moments where we all were part of a collective experience and he could say what we were all thinking. Such was his magnetism that everyone was hanging on his every word and laughing until it hurt.
At the end of his performance he took a bow to rapturous applause and walked off stage, only to return and open the floor to questions. He seemed to be genuinely enjoying talking about his amazing life and it felt like he could have talked all night.
It was an amazing experience to have listened to John Waters speak and one that many people will be talking about for years to come.