John Waters’ Role Models Should Be Yours Too

Not everyone sees John Waters as an exemplary role model. But that doesn’t mean his own personal role models aren’t worth emulating in certain respects. Role Models, which is, in essence, a guidebook for how to live your life reveals Waters’ keen ability to extrapolate from the best parts of culture, both trashy (outsider porn) and classy (Comme des Garçons).

Beginning with somewhat more “traditional” role models, Johnny Mathis and Tennessee Williams (both quintessential gay icons), Waters then eases us into some of his more incendiary exemplars, including former Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten and a Baltimore staple of camp named Lady Zorro (a lesbian stripper). The diversity of his heroes exists not only in their professions, but in what each singular person represents. For the most part, the individuals Waters admires are rogues, paragons of the anti-establishment.

Tennessee Williams, not aesthetically unlike John Waters.
Tennessee Williams, not aesthetically unlike John Waters.

Covering literature, fashion, music, movies and serial killing, there isn’t much Waters doesn’t explore in terms of all the different types of people you can aspire to be like. But how do you know which person is right for you? Well, John Waters has your best interest at heart when he tells you that the likes of Little Richard and Mike Kelley are all you’ll ever need to bask in the delight of greatness–which will hopefully rub off on you if you believe enough in osmosis.

Mike Kelley, in the patchwork style of John Waters.
Mike Kelley, in the patchwork style of John Waters.

And then there is Waters’ literary advice to consider. In the chapter entitled “Bookworm,” Waters gives us a quick tour of some of the favorite books in his library, including Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (both of which are ultra creepy and depression-inducing in their own ways).

A thoughtful literary recommendation from Waters.
A thoughtful literary recommendation from Waters.

Waters’ distinct and unique brand of taste can now be yours all for a very low price (under ten dollars if you find the right seller on Amazon or go old school and check it out from a Baltimore, New York or Los Angeles library–the only cities that truly appreciate Waters’ scintillatingly sick humor). And for those of us without any real taste, we would all do well to take a page from the Pope of Trash.

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