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Review: John Waters: 'This Filthy World'

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John Waters at the Madame Walker Theatre. - CHRISTIAN DOELLNER

Madame Walker Theatre, Nov. 12

John Waters is relentless — and not just in his search for filth, which prompts him to explore such new sectors of depravity as communities devoted to blossoms, adult babies and feeders, and to declare Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame the carrier of his bad-taste mantle. But just in terms of his cadence as well: Waters fit about three hours of material into an hour and a half during his one-man show This Filthy World, manically racing through his career, from his early years filming Divine wallowing in pig shit to his re-introduction of Odorama into theaters with Polyester to his unlikely mainstream success with Hairspray.

Waters has been performing this show since the mid-'00s — a filmed version of it is available — but he's updated it since with material on Justin Bieber (To Catch a Predator bait and an admirer of Waters' moustache), Knoxville (the moment when his barf leapt out from the screen in Jackass 3-D being the truest moment in cinema since Godard) and Kevin Federline (Waters' copy of Kfed's hip-hop CD remains unopened, but he looks at it every day just for a smile — just as Waters repeats a line from Peyton Place, “the 'V' of her crotch,” as a mantra whenever depression starts to creep in).

A Q&A session explored a few new arenas: Waters backed off a claim that every town should have a Blow Buddies (a men's sex club in San Francisco), reeled off his favorite line from his guest role on The Simpsons (“All steel workers are gay”) and answered the inevitable advice-to-young-filmmakers question (just get out there and do it — just as Waters and friends knocked a short film about alleged LSD victim Diane Linklater before her funeral — but, also, know your industry). An atypically raunchy show for Spirit & Place, part of an admirably boundary-pushing year devoted to The Body which also included an art nude exhibition (reviewed last week).

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