Meet the Logo Legend: John Waters

"What makes somebody legendary is that they last, and they don't sell out."

Every day during the month of June, we will be spotlighting our 2022 Logo30. This powerful series profiles ordinary and extraordinary people who show pride in unique and provocative ways. Visit the Logo30 homepage to view current and past honorees.

Few people have had more of an impact on queer culture in the past half-century than John Waters.

The self-proclaimed "Filth Elder" has been the "Baron of Bad Taste" since he released the cult classic, Pink Flamingos, his trashy tale of Baltimore heathens, back in 1972. The film is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month by being added to the prestigious Criterion Collection.

"When I began it wasn't called 'independent filmmaking.' When I started, I made 'underground movies,' and then it was 'midnight movies.' Then I graduated to independent movies and then I made Hollywood movies. And then I slid back down to Hollywood underground. I think that's probably what you could call A Dirty Shame, Waters tells Logo, referring to his 2004 feature film.

"Hairspray is certainly a giant hit in middle America, which is the most devious thing I've ever done. Because it's being performed in grade schools in Florida," the filmmaker continues. "They don't stop Hairspray from being made, and it's two men dancing together, singing love songs. It's encouraging interracial dating with teenagers. Even the dumbest racists like Hairspray because it makes 'em laugh and it's sneaking in the values. And that's what humor does. That's why humor is the best defense."

It’s been a busy year for the Baltimorean, who recently had cameos on Search Party and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and released his first novel, Liarmouth. He also embarked on a book tour and a new art show in — where else? — Baltimore. Waters is slated to host a variety of in-person events, too, including a formal dinner at the Provincetown dump, and hosting his annual adult sleepaway summer camp in September.

Waters is certainly a legend, but when asked what makes someone legendary, the filmmaker and author says its not about fame, but someone who stays true to themselves:

"What makes somebody legendary is that they last, and they don't sell out, and they continue to surprise people no matter what age they are," Waters explains to Logo. "I just have always made the next movie, book, everything that I felt would make me laugh, and I'm lucky enough where there are enough people that agree with me."

Watch our Logo30 honorees reveal what Waters means to them, and hear the "Pope of Trash" himself discuss his incredible life and career in our special 2022 Logo Legend video below.

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