I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to create the Lifetime Achievement Award for John Waters which was presented to him by TIGLFF last night in Tampa Theatre following his hilarious one-man show Dirty, Filthy World: Dirtier & Filthier.
When I was younger I recall my Mom and Stepfather simultaneously laughing and sounding horrified as they watched a John Waters movie on VHS in our living room late one evening. I was dying to know what the heck was going on, but I was supposed to be sleeping. So, I strolled downstairs, past the t.v. and into the kitchen to get a glass of water (oldest trick in the book but it works). I only caught a few glimpses but it was a scene from Female Trouble, and if you are familiar with it you’ll understand why i felt a mix of revulsion and intrigue. It was the scene with Ida in the giant bird cage trying to convince Taffy to release her when Divine walks in. Anyway, I guess I later saw the VHS cover or overheard my parents discussing that film and Pink Flamingos but the name John Waters was one I was familiar with very early on.
A few years later, I saw Hairspray and then CryBaby and Pecker (a definite fave of mine)…Cecil B Demented….and the beloved Serial Mom…obviously, I was a fan. But, it wasn’t until TIGLFF asked me to create his award that I reflected on those memories and realized that John Waters is one of the reasons I began looking for films and books that might not be in the main stream. I had a taste for dark humor, for stuff that made me think, and for art that might deal with subject matter that might make me a little uncomfortable. I started also watching foreign films and art films and later short films on the internet and flash animated films and stop motion…and…..you get the point. I realize that those first few seconds of film I glimpsed did more than shock me. It told me that there was a whole other world of film out there that didn’t follow any boring formula. That there was some guy out there that was probably a little nuts, and fearless and totally interesting and he was making art and even people like my parents who weren’t particularly cutting edge or anything were experiencing it and having fun and that was pretty damn special.
So, yes when I read the email asking whether I would be interested in creating an award for John Waters I about fell off my seat. What an honor! I used ceramic for most of the sculpture along with an antique oil dispenser. I think the oil is a nice automotive reference to his book Carsick. Also, the sculpture includes a nice rusty bottle cap hat topped with a seed pod from the tree outside my house that the crows feed on and some sea grass roots gathered on my walks along the gulf of mexico and a bit of twine. The piece is mounted on locally salvaged wood from my friends at Funktionhouse. I chose mango because it is exotic and also commonly grown in backyards in the Tampa Bay area and the award was coming from the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival after all!
When I met him last night they had already presented the award and he was outside doing signing Carsick ( a fun book about his recent hitchhiking adventure). The folks at TIGLFF were thoughtful enough to run to his room and grab the award so I could be photographed with him and it. When I went up to him I was carrying the award and I think this was understandably perplexing to him.
CR – Hi Mr. Waters. I’m the sculptor that created your award.
JW – ….is there more than one?
CR – Oh, no! Of course not. This is the only one.
JW – But….it was in my dressing room!
CR – Oh, yeah, they must have grabbed it from there so we could get a quick photo. Do you like it?
JW – Oh, yes, I love it! It’s wonderful. I want them to ship it to my home so it doesn’t get damaged.
CR – Absolutely. Thanks for letting me get a quick photo. It’s an honor.
After we had our picture taken he asked me to please take it and make sure it was put with his other things. I got the impression he really liked not just the sculpture but I’m sure the sentiment behind it. It was a Lifetime Achievement Award. It was presented (and created) with great love and respect. The inscription read:
Thank you for 50 years of strange and beautiful
Here’s a little snap of us with the award…