The Pope of Trash is coming to Penn. That’s right. John Waters, the mastermind behind the most infamous transgressive cult films such as Pink Flamingos, Hairspray (though less so transgressive), and Serial Mom, is coming to speak.  

On Tuesday, Apr. 24, at 5 p.m., the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, in partnership with The SPEC Film Society, is hosting This Filthy World, an Evening with John Waters. The free event will see a discussion and public performance by the filmmaker and artist. Signed copies of his most recent book, Make Trouble, will also be available for purchase. 

So apart from his classic cult films, who is John Waters? He's the kid who used a pair of binoculars to watch B–rated (sometimes even X–rated movies) at his local drive–in. He is the college dropout, leaving NYU’s film school after one class. He’s the author of over nine books, an actor in movies and a host in TV shows, a visual artist flirting with both music and the fine arts. A renaissance man (though the term may not necessarily apply given his notoriously trashy works), his passion for human expression and culture exudes in nearly every domain. As he once said, “Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed.”

Beyond his creative side though, Waters is also a big collector of both literature and the fine arts, advocating that the rest of the population should do the same. A man of many words and diverse opinions, Waters never shies away from stating his thoughts in the most outright, if not blatant, of ways. His book Role Models is full of witty life advice that tells readers to essentially overturn perceived cultural and social norms to find true love and happiness, whatever that might be in the end.

But some of his better and more timeless words of wisdom come from a quote relating modern love to books. Owning over 8,000 books himself, Waters sees literature as a sign of not just knowledge, but character and overall worth as a human being. And this one bold quote perfectly encapsulates the humor and spirit behind John Waters: “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them!”

His visit, made possible by the Sachs Program, is part of an effort to allow artistic innovation to flourish at Penn. And really, what better way to honor such creativity and individuality than a talk and performance from one of the loudest personas in the art world? But the show may not be appropriate for an audience of all ages. It's the unapologetic and opinionated character of John Waters after all. So, come and give thanks that people with the life and energy of John Waters exist in this world, and maybe he’ll generously grant a new piece of brashly astute wisdom.

The performance is currently at capacity, but register here to be added to the waiting list. 


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