Town & Country is celebrating its 175th anniversary and marking the occasion with none other than John Waters on the cover — written by Mike Albo — and no one is more happy about it than the iconic actor himself. Waters, who is set to appear in new seasons of Search Party and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, told the publication that his parents pored over the magazine when he was growing up in Baltimore.
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From the cover story: At 75 years old, perhaps unexpectedly, Waters has been elevated, by both Hollywood and his critics, to the highest echelon of film culture: an auteur. From his first full-length film, Mondo Trasho, to his most recent, A Dirty Shame (starring T&C’s May cover star, Selma Blair), not to mention his books and shows—even the one-liners and film clips of his cycling through TikTok—there are few artists as easily recognizable, or as beloved and embraced by battalions of fans.
In many ways the reappreciation he’s experiencing is like that of another firmly canonized icon, Dolly Parton. After decades as the objects of dismissive wisecracks, their talent, tenacity, and nerve prevailed. Called outrageous, revolting, and “a clothesline to hang his filthy laundry on” by one critic, Waters’s body of work is now seen as a celebration of American originality. Like Parton’s, his vision of the country, it turns out, with all its polyester and prurience, has more soul than most of the milquetoast Academy Award winners for Best Picture. Here’s a test: Who is more lovable and relatable, Edith Massey in every role she ever played for Waters, or any character in the last 20 Marvel superhero films. What’s the real trash? “John is a gentle man. A dandy. A hero. He is the Karl Lagerfeld of Baltimore, on the pulse of what’s great before anyone else,” says Blair.
Being present, even virtually, is crucial for Waters. “It’s more than a way I make my living. First of all, I am in touch with the fans. Believe me, that’s important. It’s pressing flesh. It’s like campaigning. They come see everything you do for the rest of your life. Elton John told me that. The day you stop touring, it’s over,” he says. “I always say to someone, you blink and somebody’s there to steal your place. I believe you have to constantly be out there.”