Commercial crediblity came with such campy fare as Serial Mom, Polyester and Hairspray.
The latter, about a chubby teenager who unites a community with her dancing, made
him wealthier, too. Waters has an undislcosed share of the musical spinoff, which won
eight Tony awards, Broadway's highest honour, and has mushroomed into touring shows.
He thought he was in an alternate universe when he saw the former U.S. President Bush and
his wife Barbara dancing the twist at the show.
"They sat and watched two men sing a love song to each other," Waters says.
"Maybe Hairspray will be the most subversive thing I do because it really crossed over."
Waters courts new audiences by lecturing on the college circuit and attending video
store events. He finds his recent converts share the same outlook as those who have
followed him throughout his 16-film career.
"It's gay people that don't like other gay people," he says. "It's black people
that don't like black people. It's people who did not fit into their own minority."
In A Dirty Shame, Tracey Ullman is a sexually numb convenience store assistant who
becomes uncontrollably horny after hitting her head in a car accident. She meets a
tow-truck driver (Johnny Knoxville of MTV's Jackass") and joins him in a quest
for sexual healing. "Let's go sexin'," they cry, joined by other supposed deviants,
including a group of bears.
As in most of his films, A Dirty Shame is set in his beloved Baltimore. In
real-life, he says, the city is far more tolerant and is in on the joke. It
also remains fertile ground for the single Waters. "Baltimore has the cutest
boys, still," he says.
Waters watches gay film but is not a champion of the genre. "I think there's progress
in admitting there's bad gay cinema," he says. "I think that if we use our minority
as any excuse for artistic success, we're separatist. I don't believe in separatism.
The Gay Olympics? I don't get it. You're good, you're not good. Who cares who you f---?"
He is buoyant as he nears the end of his press duties, which means he can move
onto his next project.
"I enjoy it still, even the agony of it," he says. "I'm not a sex addict. I'm
a film addict."
A Dirty Shame is available from