For some reason, we've been reading a lot of memoirs this year. We've seen good, bad, and ugly, but by far our favorite so far is John Waters' Role Models. The book introduces us to a new Pope of Trash, a man who is undeniably fond of the extreme and shocking but also has a genuine and keen appreciation for true beauty, Hollywood glamour, and great literature. Waters' series of essays amounts to a surprisingly open and sincere self-portrait, rendered through explorations of the cultural icons — from squeaky-clean Johnny Mathis to Cy Twombly to Manson girl Leslie van Houten to "outsider porn" directors — who have helped to shape his personality, taste, and work.
What we found most touching about Role Models is the wisdom Waters imparts throughout the book. Like the eccentric uncle we never had, he waxes profound about how to be a happy, functional freak without killing what makes you different. Make plans to buy the book ASAP, and read Waters' advice on fashion, love, and art after the jump.
1. "If someone is racist and really cute, could you still have sex with him? I have to admit the answer is yes. I have. You just change the subject or shout, 'La la la la la la la,' covering your ears when he speaks nonsense. If all else fails, stick something in his mouth to shut him up."
2. "You should never just read for 'enjoyment.' Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends' insane behavior; or better yet, your own. Pick 'hard books.' Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for God's sake, don't let me ever hear you say, 'I can't read fiction. I only have time for the truth.' Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of 'literature'? That means fiction, too, stupid."
3. "If you're not sure you could love your children, please don't have them, because they might grow up and kill us."
4. "[F]or all the neurotics who may have felt a little blue one day and were unfairly diagnosed and overly medicated before they could even try to talk out their problems, I have some advice. It's appropriate to be depressed sometimes. Who wants to be 'even' day after day? If you just killed three people in a DWI accident, you should feel bad. If your whole family molested you in a giant basket on Easter morning, you have a right to be grumpy every once in a while. But feeling down can make you feel up if you're the creative type. The emotional damage may have already been done to you, but stop whining. Use your insanity to get ahead."
5. "Everybody knows you need young blood in your house. The way to build a great [art] collection is not to have a lot of money and buy established artists; it's to go to all the galleries once a month and find a brand-new artist you like in a gallery whose stable seems to be up your alley. Go back to the artist's second show and buy something for around $5,000. It really means a lot to the artist at this stage of the game, and even though you should never buy art just so you can later sell it for a profit, it does perk up looking through the auction results when you see your gamble go sky-high once in a while."