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'A Happy Jonestown.' John Waters Talks About His Upcoming Summer Camp

by Steve Duffy
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 3, 2018

Does John Waters even need an introduction? In addition to writing and directing feature films, Waters is also the author of seven books.

One thing you probably don't know of him is his role as a camp leader (and by camp, we mean as in summer camp). But next month Waters hosts his second annual "Camp John Waters," a four-day event at an exclusive camp in the Berkshires.

Join other campers for such activities as a John Waters Costume Contest, judged by Waters himself; a theme dance party; a Waters film marathon; a bedtime story read by Waters; a performance of his one-man show; a Q&A and meet and greet; "Hairspray" karaoke; and Scotch and S'mores by the campfire.

EDGE spoke to Waters about his summer camp experience, as well as his new spoken word record "Make Trouble."

Why summer camp?

EDGE: Why did you start a summer camp?

John Waters: The idea was brought to me, and since I went to camp as a kid I loved the idea. I was also a camp counselor. I have so many good memories of camp, but I thought it would be fun to do a twisted adult version of it. I like to think of it as a happy Jonestown without the massacre. A great way to do my show, but this one is special.

EDGE: What are some of the camp activities?

John Waters: This year, we are having an obscene phone call contest with Mink Stole as the judge. There will be a meet and greet with Traci Lords, dance party, and a drag show. I also get to perform my one-man show.

EDGE: Favorite part about being a camp leader?

John Waters: It's funny, people think that we would just be sitting around talking about Rita Hayworth movies. The camp is so much more. The spirit is one of fun and connection. I truly hope this will continue to be an annual event.

EDGE: Your new spoken word record "Make Trouble" comes from a speech that you gave at a 2015 commencement ceremony. Does your message still hold true today?

John Waters: Even more so! I think it went viral because of the meaning, we need to continue to challenge the norm. Since Trump has become president, it is much more relevant now.

What would he remake?

EDGE: Besides movies, you have also written several books. How does the creative process work for you when it comes to writing a screenplay versus a book?

John Waters: For me, it's all the same. Every day, I wake up at 6am read six newspapers, then I write from 8:00am to noon. I need the title first, it helps me create the genre, characters and chapters. I always pitch the idea and sell before I really start working on it.

EDGE: If you were going to remake one of your films, which one would it be?

John Waters: I wouldn't want to remake any of them. Well, maybe "Fruitcake."

EDGE: Is there anything that could entice you get back into filmmaking?

John Waters: I didn't leave it because I wanted to. There is no money in it. The books are doing well, and I enjoy writing them. The last movie I did ended up in the gutter where I began my career.

EDGE: Where would John Waters be without Divine?

John Waters: I think I would have still made movies. Divine was the perfect actor to speak my lines. He had no desire to be a woman, he just wanted to pass as a monster. He became that monster and we created it together.

For more information about John's camp, visit visit the event's website. For more information about John Waters, including his upcoming performances, visit his website. To purchase tickets to see "A John Waters Christmas" on December 6 at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, MA visit visit the Berklee Performance Center website.


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