Dear John

John Waters' art show is called "Flop" and his book "Art: A Sex Book." Is this guy fucked up or what?

Brace yourself: John Waters is having an art show. If that sounds odd -- as it may to fans of Waters' films, especially Pecker, in which the hoity-toity art world is treated rather badly -- well, odd is to be expected from the director of Pink Flamingos, no? The exhibit, "Flop," includes photos of Waters' television, altered film stills, and a lovely green pillow with the show's title -- every director's worst fear -- stitched into it. Also perversely compelling is the promise of work that addresses the artist's other anxieties: "to-do" lists, for example, and blank TV screens signifying writer's block.

It's somehow less surprising that the director has also co-authored a book. Last year, Waters appeared at a Christmas celebration at the Castro Theatre and gave some good free advice: He told audience members not to sleep with anyone who doesn't read. "If you go home with someone, and there aren't any books in their house, do not fuck them. Go home," he commanded. This is a poignant point, considering that hisbook, Art: A Sex Book, written with critic and curator Bruce Hainley, is a neat combination of those two concerns: It looks at the relationship between contemporary art and sex. It's pornographic, of course. If you go home with someone this holiday season, and there's only one book in his house, it's probably OK to go ahead -- as long as it's this book.

Cute; disturbing -- so John Waters.
John Waters
Cute; disturbing -- so John Waters.


The opening reception for "Flop" is Thursday, Nov. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at Rena Bransten Gallery, 77 Geary (at Grant), S.F. Admission is free; call 982-3292 or visit

Waters and Hainley sign copies of Art: A Sex Book on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit

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"To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about," Waters has said -- and proved many times. "But one must remember that there is such a thing as good bad taste and bad bad taste." Bring on the good bad taste, you Prince of Puke, you.

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