Of all the dubious titles awarded him -- "The Sultan of Sleaze," "The Baron of Bad Taste," and so forth -- filmmaker John Waters prefers "The Pope of Trash." Born in Baltimore to an upper-middle-class Catholic family, Waters has always been fascinated (obsessed, actually) with violence and gore. He claims that the biggest rush of his childhood occurred when he found dried blood on the squashed remains of a derelict automobile (he also claims to have used binoculars to watch X-rated movies at his local drive-in).
For his 17th birthday, Waters was given an 8mm camera. Wasting no time, he gathered together a group of his like-minded chums -- including obese high-school classmate Harris Milstead, better known as female impersonator Divine -- into a repertory troupe called the Dreamland Players, then began churning out his own films. Unlike other teenaged amateurs whose first films consist of warmed-over Godzilla movies and stop-motion GI Joe dolls, Waters' oeuvre was the basest, most vomit-inducing form of poor taste. His avowed purpose in life was to smash every middle-class value that his uptight Baltimore brethren held dear. After completing such early short-subject gems as Hag in a Black Leather Jacket and Eat Your Makeup!, Waters would screen his films in rented church basements, heralding their showings by blanketing the town with mimeographed invitations.