Fifty years after the gloriously trashy release of Pink Flamingos, John Waters still can’t visit Hicksville, New York. The sleepy hamlet tucked away on Long Island is one of many bedroom communities where Waters’ exercise in poor taste starring the immortal Divine was hit with obscenity charges. At the time, the budding filmmaker had an unusual way of dealing with the legal cases against him: embracing them.
“I never won [obscenity cases],” Waters said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, celebrating Pink Flamingos joining the Criterion Collection. “Because at midnight, Pink Flamingos is joyous, it’s exciting, the audience loves it. But if you’re sworn in on jury duty in a courthouse, sitting there next to a stranger, watching a singing asshole at 7:30 in the morning, I promise you, it is obscene. It’s all about geography. I would just plead guilty, which was a $1,000 fine, and the lawyers usually cost more than that.”
The problem with those legal troubles is that Lady Justice can (sometimes) have a long memory. As part of the settlement, Waters and Newline boss Bob Shaye signed paperwork saying they’d go to jail if the movie ever screened in Hicksville again. “And I do believe Pink Flamingos may have played in Hicksville,” Waters added. “I don’t know if I’m wanted by the police, but I never drive by that town in case.”
Better safe than sorry. It’s the same reason you always call emergency services to ask if eating fresh dog feces can cause health problems just moments after eating fresh dog feces. There really never was an actor as dedicated as Divine and yet, somehow, no Oscar.
Threading the needle of warmth and disgust as only Waters can, he admitted the movie would play differently today than it would have a half-century ago, proclaiming, “Pink Flamingos might actually be worse, because of political correctness, even though the morals of Pink Flamingos are politically correct.” Hear, hear.
And for anyone living in Hicksville, NY, this is officially your invitation to start a midnight screening tradition.
(via Entertainment Weekly)