Dear John Waters,
Yes, this is a fan letter, but not for your films—for your writing.
I will confess that I don’t feel strongly either way about your films. I think the last one I saw was Polyester. That’s right, not even Hairspray. The thing I appreciated most about Polyester was the opportunity to experience a William Castle-inspired gimmick, having been too young to catch his films and stunts in theaters, though I do remember the Thirteen Ghosts glasses my older brother Harvey brought home when I was four.
I was 16 when Pink Flamingos came out, but I went to see it with friends a couple of years later, when it was running as a midnight special at a porno theater in Bensonhurst, Saturday Night Fever territory. I had never been to a porno theater before, and this being the “golden age” of porn, they were showing Wet Rainbow, with Georgia Spelvin and Harry Reems. My friends and I arrived for the tail end of Wet Rainbow, and they let us in, a premium we hadn’t counted on. Apparently the film had a story, as they often did in the olden days, but we had arrived too late to make any sense of it. As far as the sex was concerned, I can’t even remember if it gave me a hard-on.
Of course we loved Pink Flamingos. We were 18, after all. But 40 years later I confess I can’t remember a thing about it. Some fan letter, eh?
Anyway, I recently saw your book Crackpot on offer as a Kindle daily deal for $1.99. Now frankly, I probably wouldn’t have paid retail for one of your books, but I figured, for two bucks what have I got to lose?
Then, about a week ago I started reading it, and I was truly blown away by your writing. Thank ya, Bezos! Your sentences are vibrant, the writing is incredibly funny and, more importantly, spellbindingly engaging. Now I’m singing your writerly praises far and wide. I’ve been telling people that as a writer you’re A.J. Liebling’s skinny, gay brother from a parallel universe, and from me any comparison to Liebling is the highest form of compliment. And I surely have to tip my hat to someone who can make the late films of Godard sound like fun. I think you should send your piece about Hail Mary to Pope Francis. If you ever stood a chance with a pope, he’s the one. Carpe diem!
On top of all that, your piece about teaching at a maximum security prison was nothing short of touching. The other pieces made me appreciate you. That one made me like you. Bravo!
Now I will not hesitate to pay whatever it takes to read other books of yours.
As a token of my appreciation, I’m enclosing a copy of my own recent collection, Lift Your Right Arm, which I hope you’ll enjoy. After all, what’s the real purpose of a fan letter but self-promotion?
As a matter of fact, when the book came out I was supposed to do a reading and talk at your home base, Atomic Books, but, alas, they dropped the ball. Should they ever come to their senses, pick up the ball and invite me to do an event, I hope I’ll have the chance to meet you.
With fond appreciation,