They say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, and to a certain extent I agree. I met Davy Jones once, and he was terrible. He was super rude, and my eight-year-old heart was broken. I also met David Cassidy who was also not at all nice, but since I liked his brother Shaun better, I wasn’t as upset. But sometimes you do get to meet your heroes, and they can be fantastic — I met Judy Blume and she made me cry because I was so happy, and same with Patty Duke. I also met Little Richard at Ben Frank’s (THAT’S another story for another time), and he was super great and paid for my lunch. So I’ve been lucky, too.
But tonight was the luckiest night of them all — I met JOHN WATERS. Oh my GOD.
The first time I ever saw Pink Flamingos I was a junior in high school, and decided that I wanted John Waters to be my prom date. (Obviously that didn’t happen.) But oh, I worshiped him. He and his crazy gang were just insane, and my friend Matt and I were completely obsessed with him, Divine, Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller, and Edith Massey. They were weird outcasts, too, though granted they were way crazier than we were, and far more creative. I got his first book, Shock Value, my freshman year in college, and Crackpot soon after that. (I thought I was so cool having read it before Hairspray came out, and recognized the characters. Pfffft.) I loved his books even more than his movies — he was hysterical and nuts and I wished so much that we were friends. His writing was brilliant and made me laugh out loud, and to the point of tears. To this day I still think of “Puff Piece: 101 Things I Love” and “Hatchet Piece: 101 Things I Hate” — when I see joggers I say, in his voice, “IT’S NOT WORKING!” and about how those honky Beatles ruined everything, and how he loves to stomp around in his Kleenex box bunny slippers. (I’m laughing now just thinking about it.) I was so grateful to have found him, and back then, if you found other people who were also John Waters fans, you had found kindred spirits with whom you could quote Polyester. That still holds true to this day.
A couple of months ago, I saw on FB that my friend TaggyLee was going to see him reading from his latest book, Carsick, at a local bookstore, and I invited myself to go with her. John Waters in Oakland? Um, YES. OH MY GOD. We called and got our books, which was also our admission and as it turned out, our assigned seating. TaggyLee bought book #6, and I bought book #7.
Which meant we were front row center.
We were RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. We were so close I could see his furry slippers!
He read a chapter from his book, which was hilarious, and then he opened it up to questions. He was so friendly and funny and told more great stories… I envy all those people who picked him up while he was hitchhiking! I even asked a question — well, I said, “I hear you like public transportation” and I know I was blushing so hard, but he got all excited and told us a great story about how he watched a woman pick her girlfriend’s pimples on Muni (only he calls it MOONIE) for about half an hour and everyone was laughing. He looked right at me, too! I was in heaven.
And then we got to get our books signed, and I was all flustered and he asked my name and I said Karen Finlay so we laughed about that, and he asked me how old I was when I discovered the “other Karen Finley,” and right as this photo was taken, he was saying YAMS.
I was GIDDY. It was pretty much one of the best moments of my WHOLE LIFE.
So I’m so glad I got to meet my hero tonight — he was smart, hysterical, and charming, and everything I dreamed he would be. (Somehow I knew he would be.) But of course NOW I thought of the best questions: Does he still have his Kleenex Box bunny slippers? And does he still agree with my cardinal rule that white shoes should not be worn after Labor Day? Oh well. Maybe next time.
Buy his book here! (It may even be signed!)