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John Waters on Art-House Exploitation

If you’re hankering for a heavy dose of sleaze, you need look no further than John Waters’ 1970 sophomore feature, Multiple Maniacs, which joined our collection this week and is now streaming on the Criterion Channel. Made in Waters’ beloved hometown of Baltimore when he was only twenty-four, this low-budget shocker tears through the sanctimoniousness of suburban America with a ferocity that few of the director’s contemporaries have mustered. In the NSFW excerpt below, the Pope of Trash can be heard at his wisecracking best on the audio commentary, guiding viewers through a scene in which his larger-than-life muse Divine lounges naked at the Cavalcade of Perversion, a traveling tent show introduced at the film’s opening. Watch the clip for Waters’ insights into the influence of foreign cinema on his work, the ironic humor that kept his films from being embraced by grindhouse audiences, and Divine’s emulation of Elizabeth Taylor.

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