Books From the Slush Pile: ‘Carsick’ by John Waters

Rejected review copies molder in bins. Avert thine eyes, aspiring authors!

I have a millennial friend who thinks hitchhiking is a fine idea. Having lived through the 1970s, when thumbing a ride was considered cool, I told her about my experiences of getting picked up by drivers who were high, etc. etc., which finally forced me to quit hitching. She was unimpressed.


Which raises the question of whether you would give a lift to John Waters, who embarked on a hitchhiking odyssey from Baltimore to San Francisco and writes about it in the forthcoming book “Carsick” published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

More of the book is online if you want to sample it.

Here’s a sample selected entirely at random:

I-70 West?” I beg. “Oh, meeting someone? Who?!” he answers in a faux rage repeating another line from my movie so obscure that even I can’t place it at first. “Okay,” I answer, realizing this fan won’t quit, “just let me off somewhere going west.” “Going to a gang bang or something?” he responds, this time channeling David Lochary. “No, just a road trip,” I answer, refusing to play along with his little dialogue game. I mean, I’m flattered he knows the lines that well but, jeez, give it a break. “We were just wondering,” he continues in character, “where you were planning to spread your VD today? That’s all-hussy.” He shrieks with laughter and I just sit there in stupefied silence. My cheek hurts. I pull his rearview mirror over and see the bruising already color­ing one side of my face. “Beauty, beauty, look at you,” he mum­bles just as Paul Swift did, fumbling his lines in Female Trouble, “I wish to God I had it, too!” He sees me wince in pain at the cut on my leg and switches to a whole other monologue. “I love the taste of it!” he rants like Divine. “The taste of hot, freshly killed blood!” Suddenly, he grabs back the mirror to his side of the car and takes an exit I’m sure I don’t want. “Hey,” I yell, “I told you I need to go west!” “You know I hate nature,” he answers, again switching film references, this time to Desperate Living. “Look at those disgusting trees,” he quotes Mink Stole’s character, Peggy Gravel, “stealing my oxygen!” “Let me off,” I shout in panic, but he just speeds up. “All natural forests should be turned into hous­ing developments!” he screeches, still in Mink mode, as he swerves into a driveway of a suburban house and slams on the brakes. “I wish I could stuff my whole head in your mouth and let you suck out my eyeballs!” he growls in a piss-poor imitation of Turkey Joe’s line in Desperate Living, dialogue that I used to be proud of and now curse the day I wrote it.

‘John Waters!” screams a frightening-looking woman way too large and old to be wearing the tube top she’s featuring-also too early in the season, in my humble fashion opinion. She comes charging down the front path. I freeze. My “biggest fan” leaps out of the car and falls to his knees in front of this lady, who seems used to this role-playing behavior. “Oh, Mother, it’s me, Divine,” he cries. “I was just humiliated in front of the media!” Wait, I think, that’s not a line from any of my movies! But just before I can nail him on his mistake, I realize, yes, it is! It’s from the sequel to Pink Flamingos-Flamingos Forever, which was never shot; only the script was published in book form. To be honest, I could have found him a funnier line, but this idiot isn’t asking for direction.

“I knew you’d meet my son, Adam,” Mom yells as she grabs me in a bear hug. So that’s his name! Adam. Good. I’ll remem­ber it for the restraining order if I can ever break away from this insane woman, who is smashing her large breasts into my chest before planting a disgusting kiss on my lips. “Good morning, Francine, you’ve put on another twenty pounds,” she screams to Adam, also channeling dialogue from my films, but moving on to one of my more mainstream efforts, Polyester. “My own moth­er’s insane!” roars the son, reverting back to one of Mink Stole’s shrill lines from Female Trouble.

“Adam’s perfect for your movies,” shouts his mom, suddenly turning into a belligerent stage mom. “Let him audition!” she begs, and I am at last relieved to see she is talking in a nondialogue way. “Send a resume in to Pat Moran,” I respond as always, “she casts all my movies. Don’t call her-she hates that,” I add, trying to protect her from nutcases just like these two. “Do `Gator,”‘ orders the mom to her son, completely ignoring my pro­fessional advice. “Hey, Taffy, come suck your daddy’s dick,” he shrieks, obviously unembarrassed to repeat X-rated dialogue in front of his mother. “`Queen Carlotta,”‘ she orders with excite­ment like some kind of agent from hell. “Seize him and fuck him,”

Maybe this will finally convince my millennial friend that hitching is a bad idea.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Books From the Slush Pile: ‘Carsick’ by John Waters

  1. Eve says:

    John Waters and I have been–well, I won’t say “friends,” but “friendly acquaintances” (I don’t like to presume) for about 40 years now. But like all grownups, we have amiable disagreements on several topics: 1) hitchhiking (I say “no!”), 2) modern art (he loves it, I’m “feh”), and 3) the fact that he was appalled by my idea to remake “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” in the 1980s starring Zsa Zsa (Jane) and Eva (Blanche) Gabor. “That’s too weird even for ME,” he said.


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