When director John Waters puts on his artist hat he often reworks images, adding playful, generally crowd-pleasing twists—one might call it Pictures Generation Lite. For his third show at Boesky, he reimaged himself with Botox and a facelift in Beverly Hills John (2012), riffing on Cindy Sherman. He aped Richard Prince’s pulp work and redid the cover of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as “Clitty Clitty Bang Bang” in Library Science #4 (2014). He also spliced a cruise ship, a crashing plane, a pink flamingo, and other oddities into classic Ansel Adams photos in Cancel Ansel (2014). The works ranged from an edgy greeting card (as in the above) to a solid bit of political propaganda, like Separate But Equal (2014), which offers up separate water fountains labeled “Gay Married” and “Gay Single”; a black man drinks from the “Single” fountain.
But all of this was modest compared to Kiddie Flamingos (2014), a video of an uproarious table reading of Waters’s saucy 1972 classic Pink Flamingos by children, some decked out in wigs and makeup, all captivating. Waters narrates the action from behind the camera, absolutely giddy and encouraging, underscoring the simple fact that even his most obscenity-minded films have at their core an unembarrassed, enthusiastic love.
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 81.