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Filthy: The Weird World of John Waters Paperback – June 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555836259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555836252
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,913,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Late last year, Alyson published My Son Divine by the late drag performer's mother with ace assistance by two filmmakers who shot In Bad Taste and Divine Trash, two documentaries about Waters. This breezy guide to the life and films of the Baltimore filmmaker lacks the research and thoroughness of the earlier effort. Waters's own Shock Value (1981) is still the definitive book on his life and career. Shock covered his early short films and first five full-length features (including Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble). Since the publication of that book, Waters has made six more films (including Hairspray, Polyester and Cecil B. Demented). Instead of offering Waters fans a useful update, Pela recycles information about the earlier films. The author's interest wanes during the later films (the Johnny Depp musical Cry Baby merits a mere three pages and Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner is brushed off in three paragraphs). Equally frustrating are the chapters where Pela makes himself the focus: his disappointing visit to Baltimore; his trip to a spiritual medium to speak with the deceased Divine and his talk with scary, obsessive fans of Waters. A misplaced bluffers guide, which reads more like an appendix, interrupts the chronology midway through to wax on rats, shoplifting, vomit, fat women and other recurring imagery and motifs in John Waters films. The useful filmography (running more than 50 pages) contains fun facts (Best Moment, Low Point, Best Dialogue) and brief reviews.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Robrt Pela is a contributing writer for Men's Fitness and The Advocate as well as a theater critic whose reviews appear each week in the New Times and are heard on NPR's Morning Edition. He lives in Phoenix.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
There are things about Robrt Pela's book that I really like.
Alana L Miller
The chapters about the fans and about Pela contacting Divine beyond the grave--not to mention the bloated filmography at the end of the book--are simply filler.
Ryan Clark
The themes and motifs chapter and the filmography chapter were packed full of odd bits of trivia that were entertaining and fascinating.
Shawna Mickelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Clark on January 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
While "Filthy: The Weird World of John Waters" is servicable as a brief overview of John Waters' career, it really doesn't offer anything one couldn't learn by reading Waters' "Shock Value" and "Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters", Frances Milstead's "My Son Divine", or even by watching Steve Yeager's great documentary Divine Trash, all of which are vastly superior to this book. In fact, most of the quotes in "Filthy" are taken from those other works, implying that the author hasn't actually come into contact with any of the people involved with John Waters' films (or as fans like to call them, Dreamlanders). The book begins with a concise look at Waters' childhood and travels through the making of his films, all but skipping over his latter period works like Serial Mom and Cecil B. Demented. Unfortunately, the chapters aren't laid out very well and the film anecdotes are interrupted by idiotic stories like an unnecessary and disrespectful segment where the author supposedly channels Divine through a psychic, or mean-spirited descriptions of a few Waters fans told through the eyes of a man who clearly isn't as big of a fan as he makes himself out to be.

Another unfortunate aspect of "Filthy" is that the author makes one too many mistakes throughout the text, either with facts or with plot descriptions. These errors may be considered minor to the casual Waters fan, but will absolutely ruin the reading experience for John Waters fanatics by prompting them to take what the author says with a grain of salt. For example, Pela states that Jean Hill has no lines in Polyester. Anyone who has seen the film, and enjoys it as much as I do, knows that this is not true.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is ultimately just kind of stupid. The author, Robrt Pela writes decently enough, but seems to be extremely judgemental in his descriptions of people he obviously doesn't know (because many are dead)...and furthermore...if some of the Dreamlander's he writes about are his friends, then well, I don't think they will be very happy with his descriptions of them.
I frankly don't think that Mr. Pela actually "gets" John Waters and has written this book simply because he is getting a paycheck. His "Low Points" of the films are just stupid. And he offers no reasons as to why they are low points. I actually love most of the scenes that he refered to as "Low Points"
Mr. Pela refers to several dreamlanders derogatorily, for example he refers to Susan Lowe at one point as, "..a slutty artists model" which is just unneccesary. He's not quoting anyone, he's offering a totally unfounded opinion because he wasn't there and I doubt if he knows Susan Lowe or has ever talked to her.
Mr. Pela writes about these people as if they are abberations and characters in a made up book. His attitude is one of wierd disdain and prudish snobbery. I don't understand how John Water's is his favorite director.
He completely gets it all wrong when he says that Jean Hill has no lines in POLYESTER. I mean did he watch the film? She has several lines. I remember them very well as they are some of the films funniest dialogue.
Robrt Pela seems to me like a typical modern gay man (and I am a queer so I can say this) who embraces the gay politcal agenda and establishment as the only right way to live, and to be gay. His reactions to many things Watersian is very stereotypical and myopic.
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By KC on January 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
A unique biography/filmography for a unique individual. Tackling the complex life of an icon such as John Waters would be anything but simple, yet this author has done just that. Pela reveals all we want to know about Waters early relationships, his film career, and more. It was a great read filled with quirky facts and hilarious recollections from Walters.
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