John Waters keeps comedy flowing

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

John Waters may be an internationally known creative genius, but he's still a Baltimore guy at heart.

The creator of such "trash epics" as "Hairspray," "Cry-Baby," "Pink Flamingos," "Female Trouble" and more said that a constant in his life is to always return to the area to work.

"I earn my money in New York, but I never get inspired there," he said from his Baltimore office. "I never think anything up there. This is where I come to create."

A native of Baltimore, "The Pope of Trash," is now touring with his one-man spoken word "vaudeville" act. The show includes a rapid-fire monologue that encompasses stories from his film career, creative influences and collaborators, presumably even his childhood friend, Divine. The female impersonator, who died in 1988, was the star of many of Waters' films including "Hairspray."

Onstage
John Waters' 'This Filthy World'
» Where: Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW
» When: 6 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show Wednesday
» Info: $30 in advance, $35 day of show; 202-397-SEAT; ticketmaster.com

"It all started out in College Park," he said of his beginning comedy. "It has all grown or shrunk from that."

Not that Waters is relying on past material. It seems he's always on new adventures and seeking creative inspiration.

"I always think my audience is smart," he said of how he constructs his act. "I use things about my travels in the world right down to the basest jokes and I never explain."

Seated in his Baltimore office that is filled with thousands of books, Waters talked about how he juggles the various creative processes he undertakes. He writes long hand, he said, and mixes and matches notes until he reaches a comfort level in which he has the words put into a computer program. Between that project and his one-man show, from which he just returned from Helsinki, Finland and Brussels, Belgium, he has more than enough fodder for this and other projects. It seems his remembrances of playing in the area will provide even more.

"You had the Howard Theatre [in Washington] and we had the Royal here," he said talking about legendary area theatres where he saw Motown acts, James Brown and other music legends when he was younger. "I'm so happy [The Howard] is there. But you know I almost wished it looked like it did the day it closed. I am really excited to come back, though."

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Nancy Dunham

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner