NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

FRESH AIR: Cult filmmaker and self-described “filth elder” John Waters, 73, has plenty of ideas about what older people should and shouldn’t do. The worst thing, he says, is to get a convertible: “Because believe me, old age and windswept do not go hand in hand. It’s really a bad look! You can’t be trying too hard to rebel [when] you’re older.” Waters knows about being a rebel. He became famous for his 1972 film Pink Flamingos, in which the characters compete for the title of filthiest person alive. That film became a midnight movie classic and led to other films, including Female Trouble and Hairspray. Along the way, Waters became accepted in the mainstream more than he ever expected. Hairspray was adapted into a Broadway musical, and he has also given a commencement address and had museum retrospectives. Though he jokes that he can’t be anarchist — “I have three homes!” — he adds, “There’s plenty of rules that you can still break. … I think you have to use humor and you can’t be so angry about it.” Waters looks back on his unlikely path to respectability in his new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. MORE

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