Guilty pleasure entertainment can be fun and sometimes deranged. One man defines cult cinema: John Waters. Running until August 2024, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures John Waters: Pope of Trash exhibition covers the wide range of his filmography from Pink Flamingos to Hairspray to Cecil B. Demented. Guests will be greeted by Waters on a giant wall display posing between torn, pink-striped wallpaper, possibly a symbol of his deconstructive perspective on modest America. Once inside, you’ll see the evolution of this quirky director’s career from independent filmmaker to renowned figure of trash cinema.
“…the evolution of this quirky director’s career from independent filmmaker to renowned figure of trash cinema.”
Every great filmmaker has a beginning. Guests can sit in a church pew screening room where his first film is displayed, accompanied by stained glass windows featuring his collaborators, such as drag queen Divine. Neon costumes from Hairspray are displayed in front of a lemony backdrop. These exaggerated costumes personify Waters’ stylized aesthetic, capturing the colorful mood of 1950s-60s pop culture. Another portion celebrates his fandom, which includes John Waters fan art and a TV screen featuring his guest appearances in other properties such as The Simpsons. Other items showcased include the leather jacket and guitar used by Johnny Depp in the musical Cry-Baby. One unique section focuses on the history of exploitation cinema and its shady roots, which connects with Waters’ appreciation for this hidden part of film history.
Fans of cult cinema will be excited to see props and costumes from their favorite John Waters films. Also, newcomers get a taste of an iconic filmmaker outside the mainstream. This is another step towards a newfound appreciation for the bonkers world of cult cinema.
John Waters: Pope of Trash exhibition can be seen at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles from now until August 2024