Cult filmmaker John Waters, director of Pink Flamingos, Polyester and Hairspray, is known for taking his audiences on wild rides. For his new book, Carsick, he becomes the passenger, hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco armed with his signature pencil-thin mustache and a cardboard sign reading, “I’m not psycho.” The Pope of Trash reads at the Brattle Theatre on June 14.
I think it should! Sure, there’s a little danger, but there’s danger to never try[ing] things, too. I don’t know—I’ve never had anything bad happen to me hitchhiking, but people I know have, and I don’t want to be blamed if somebody reads the book and goes right out and gets murdered the first time they hitchhike. You have to use common sense. I didn’t get along with murderers. How you get along with all types of people really helps with hitchhiking.
I always think tomorrow is going to be better and more exciting. I’m never the kind of person to say, “Oh, it was more fun when I was young.” I think hackers are having as much fun as I had when we were throwing horsesh– at the police at Yale for Bobby Seale. I always think that tomorrow’s gonna be more fun. The only thing I’m afraid of is to stay home all the time, and to never change, and never be open to new things. Now I’m 68, so I do think my street cred should go up a little—I did hitchhike across America by myself with no backup.
No, I think maybe only one did instantly, and that was the first ride I ever got. But maybe a third of them drove past me and said, “Is that John Waters? It couldn’t be. Why would he be standing there?” And then they came back and picked me up. And some came over to give me money and didn’t even know, and then realized it was me and started laughing and screaming. And many, they’d talk, and I’d say I was a film director, and they’d just look at me like, “Sure,” like I was a crazy homeless person with these delusions of grandeur that thought I was a film director. You could tell they didn’t believe me. They were very touching; they tried to give me money and stuff. People were very kind.