When John Waters touched down in Hollywood decades ago, he immediately had a run in with authorities. “I got out of my vehicle in 1970 at Hollywood and Vine and darted across the street and got a jaywalking ticket, the first one, and I never looked back,” recalled the filmmaker while standing at the podium on Monday to receive a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Waters, surrounded by throngs of fans and well-wishers, found himself not far from that famous intersection but on the other side of a Hollywood career that has produced such films as Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Serial Mom, Pecker, Cecil B. Demented and others. And he couldn’t be happier with the gritty Hollywood setting. “God, here I am, closer to the gutter than ever,” quipped the 77-year-old who has long been referred to as a maestro of “trash” films or the king of filth.
He dedicated the honor to his late parents, Pat and John Waters, “who, despite being horrified by my early films and some of the last ones, too, encouraged me to continue because I guess they thought what else could I possibly do but be in show business?”
Waters is in the midst of a moment. The Academy Museum just opened a career-spanning new exhibit, John Waters: Pope of Trash, to much fanfare and a blitz of new interviews and articles celebrating his lengthy career. He closed his brief speech on Monday by thanking his oldest friends who have stuck by him through “good times and the bad,” studio partners like Warner Bros. and Outfest for sponsoring the event (“and thinking I was gay enough to receive it”).
“The Hollywood Walk of Fame, you’re the best, and I hope the most desperate showbiz rejects walk over me here and feel some sort of respect and strength. The drains on this magic boulevard will never wash away the gutter of my gratitude, the flotsam of my film career or the waste of Waters’ appreciation,” he said. “Thank you Hollywood, this time I’ve finally gone beyond the valley of the dolls.”
See the full Walk of Fame ceremony below with tributes from close friends and collaborators like actors Ricki Lake and Mink Stole and photographer Greg Gorman.