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A conversation with the world’s most audacious bad-tastemaker.

Filmmaker John Waters achieved what he calls a “sort-of fame” based on his bad taste and others’ bad reviews. “If someone vomits watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation, ” he once wrote. Sincerely shameless during the 1970s, when the obscenity of movies such as Pink Flamingos shocked audiences, Waters seems to have softened into his 70s; the latest role in his filmography was a part in Alvin and the Chipmunks. His darkly subversive humor—a lifelong

  • Words:
    John Clifford Burns
  • Photograph:
    Jerome De Perlinghi / Corbis via Getty Images

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  • Words:
    John Clifford Burns
  • Photograph:
    Jerome De Perlinghi / Corbis via Getty Images
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