The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Depravity

In his new stand-up comedy show and book, Carsick, cult film director John Waters talks about putting his life on the line as he hitchhiked his way from Baltimore to San Francisco in the spring of 2012.

Uli Lenart caught up with The Pope of Trash and asked him about the perils and pleasures of the open road.

Mr Waters! How are you doing?

I'm well. How are you?

I'm good. I'm over-the-moon to be talking with you. So, John Waters, has a gay man ever gone further just to get picked up?

You mean as in hitchhiking? Um, well, I didn't get picked up. You know in the fictitious part that I imagined the best and the worst I had all sorts of good and bad sex. But in real life I don't think a gay person picked me up to be honest. So I didn't get laid hitchhiking; I imagined it.

But that wasn't the main reason: to get laid. If I was gonna do that I would probably hitchhike in Baltimore. They would think I was the oldest hustler. I would go to Patterson, to Eastern Avenue which used to be where all the hustlers were and it was a world famous place. There were licence plates from every state in the country that would come there for that. But there is none of that left now.

My type is the hitchhiker with the birthmark across his face in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I like somebody with a past and a little edge. Although all the people I imagined having sex with in my book, was it a demolition derby driver, a bank robber and a door-to-door knife salesman, they were all kind to me — and loving. They didn't mistreat me in any way. They might be out of their minds… but, as I say in the book, we experienced an "after-glow that few could understand."

People were incredibly kind, literally going out of their way to help. I always believed in the basic goodness of people. I'm an optimist. But that was really confirmed. People were kind of great.

John Waters 2Even if I didn't agree with their politics, the people that pick up hitchhikers are kind people. They are people that are trying to help people. I was amazed that people would try and give me money. A lot of people didn't believe that I was a film director; they thought I was a homeless man who was crazy. But they were still nice to me and I just think that the kindness of strangers that Tennessee Williams obviously made so famous really, really was proven by this trip.

Is it true you've said that you don't mind dying alone, just so long as you have your moustache drawn on straight?

We've already bought my burial plot. Where Divine is buried. Pink Stole bought one. Pat Moran did. We're all going to be buried there. We call it Disgraceland. And I've already got it in my will: I want a closed coffin cause I don't want people to be looking at me when I'm dead, especially with my moustache drawn on wrong. I've already got all that planned.

John Waters will be performing his stand-up comedy show 'Carsick: This Filthy World Volume Two Live Comedy Monologue' at the Royal Festival Hall on 11 November 2014. Go to southbankcentre.co.uk to book tickets.

This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier is John Waters' one-man show; a "vaudeville" act that celebrates his film career and obsessive tastes.

Focusing in on Waters' early negative artistic influences and his fascination with true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy, and the extremes of sexual politics, this joyously devious and continuously updated monologue is a rally cry against the tyranny of good taste.